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Could You Survive 2.5 Million Years Ago?


Hey there and welcome to Life Noggin. A lot can change over the course of a century. In the early 20th century, Einstein wrote
his theory of relativity. In 1953, Dr. Jonas Salk announced that he
had successfully created a polio vaccine. And in 1990, the world wide web was invented. But what about changes over a longer period
of time, like a few million years? Obviously, the Earth was a drastically different
place, but it makes me wonder: could you, a modern human, survive on Earth 2.5 million
years ago? To start off, let’s talk about the environment. You, my friend, would be living in the Pleistocene
Epoch, which spanned from 2.6 millions years ago to 11,700 years ago. This was the time period in which the most
recent ice ages took place. During the peak periods where most of the
water on Earth was ice, the global average temperatures were 5 to 10 degrees Celsius
colder than they are today. This was a much cooler and drier Earth. So already, unless you have an incredibly
insulating jacket, your chances of survival are looking pretty slim. During this time, you may also have bumped
into one of your earliest human ancestors — homo habilis. This species looked more like apes than humans,
but were able to walk on their back legs and use their hands to make stone tools, hence
its name, which means “handy man”. But, luckily for you, if you encountered one
of them, scientists are unsure if it would attack. The general consensus is that homo habilis
were vegetarians and did not hunt anything but small game. So, in this sense, you may not be in direct
harm. But what about diseases? The prevailing idea on the origin of human
diseases is that many of them arose once animals were domesticated. However, with new data, it’s thought that
diseases like tapeworms, mycobacterial infections, tuberculosis, and leprosy were around during
the Pleistocene Epoch. And scientists believe that the bacteria B.
bronchiseptica, which infected hominids 2.5 million years ago, may have evolved into the
bacteria that is now responsible for whooping cough. And even more, scientists have recently determined
that the parasites that cause malaria were around 2.5 million years ago. The parasites were relatively benign at that
time, and malaria only became a major disease after agriculture and dense human populations
arose. But if you were living 2.5 million years ago,
without access to any of today’s medicine, you would probably not make it too long. Well that’s quite a sad note to end on. To lighten the mood a bit, let me know what
you would most want to see from 2.5 million years ago. Make sure you come back every Monday for a
brand new video. As always, I’m Blocko and this has been
Life Noggin. Don’t forget to keep on thinking!

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