Handy man

First hominid to unleash the power of tools! Extinct 1.5 million years ago

Living between approximately 2.8 to 1.5 million years ago, this species represents a significant leap forward in the lineage of early humans. Their name, derived from Latin, reflects their unique contribution to our ancestral narrative: the creation and use of stone tools. This innovation was not merely a technological advancement but a profound shift that altered the course of human evolution, challenging the prevailing assumption that tool use was exclusive to modern humans.

The introduction of stone tools by Homo habilis is recognized as a pivotal moment in prehistory. These early humans crafted tools from stone not by accident but with intention and skill, using them to cut, scrape, and process food. This ability to manipulate the environment and extend their physical capabilities through tools is a hallmark of human evolution. The tools associated with Homo habilis are part of what is known as the Oldowan tool culture, named after the Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania, where they were first discovered. These tools, characterized by their simple yet effective design, include flakes used for cutting and scraping and core stones, which served as the source of these flakes.

The physical attributes of Homo habilis further highlight their transitional nature in the human evolutionary timeline. With a brain volume ranging from 500 to 800 cubic centimeters, Homo habilis had a larger brain than their australopithecine ancestors. This increase in brain size indicates evolving cognitive abilities, possibly related to the development of tool-making skills, problem-solving, and perhaps even rudimentary forms of communication. Moreover, the less protruding face and smaller teeth of Homo habilis suggest dietary adaptations.

However, the exact place of Homo habilis in the human family tree remains a subject of scientific debate. Some researchers argue that the significant differences in anatomy and behavior warrant its classification as a distinct species within the genus Homo. Others contend that Homo habilis shares enough characteristics with its australopithecine predecessors to be considered a variant within that group.

To avoid confusion: this is the only species on the website whose extinction isn’t assumed by human activities and is brought here for educational purposes.


Population est.
Official estimate

Did you know?

  • Homo habilis is one of the earliest known species in the Homo genus, dating back approximately 2.8 million years ago.
  • Homo habilis is considered the first species to use stone tools, which were used for cutting, scraping, and chopping.
  • Homo habilis had a brain size of about 600-700 cubic centimeters, significantly larger than its Australopithecus ancestors’ brains.
  • Homo habilis fossils have been found in Tanzania, Kenya, and Ethiopia.
  • They are believed to have been bipedal, walking on two legs, and could likely climb trees as well.
  • Some evidence suggests that Homo habilis may have been capable of making simple shelters and using fire, but this is still a topic of research and debate.

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Terrestrial / Aquatic

Altricial / Precocial

Dimorphic (size) / Monomorphic

Polygamous / Monogamous

Active: Diurnal / Nocturnal

Social behavior: Solitary / Pack / Herd / Group

Diet: Carnivore / Herbivore / Omnivore / Piscivorous / Insectivore

Migratory: Yes / No

Domesticated: Yes / No

Dangerous: Yes / No