Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date





Africa’s position as the cradle of humanity is widely accepted, supported by rich fossil and archaeological discoveries from different parts of the continent. Drawing on the Out-of-Africa theory of human origins, this article provides a condensed narrative of the major milestones in human evolution and associated environmental settings. The underlying hypothesis is that changes in global climate played an important role in fueling early modern human origins and dispersals within and outside of Africa. As one will discover in this article, the history of humanity is a tale of small events that merged together into major milestones over a long span of time. There is an emerging consensus among scholars that the onset of variable global climate throughout the last 6 million years, particularly the repeated glacial and interglacial cycles in the last 2.5 million years, drove the evolution of the biological and behavioral traits that define the human lineage. As with our past, the futurity of humanity will likely hinge on future climate patterns.

Original Publication Information

Beyin A. 2015. "Human origins, dispersal and associated environments: An African perspective." In Ethnology, Ethnography and Cultural Anthropology, [in Encyclopedia of Life Support Systems (EOLSS), UNESCO, Eolss Publishers, Paris, France.