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The first human : male or female

  1. Sep 20, 2015 #1
    We humans and chimpanzees had a common ancestor from which we seem to diverge. So that indicates that the common ancestor we had at some point gave birth to an offspring which would have slightly different features or mutations. So at some point in history of the common ancestor of humans and chimpanzees there might have been the first human as there would be the first chimpanzee which was born due to mutations in our common ancestors. So is there any way to know whether that was male or female? What are the theories about it?
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 20, 2015 #2


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    I think there's a major misconception in the question.

    Evolution occurs over time and you cannot draw a distinct line between an individual that was not a modern human and one that was a modern human, which this question assumes. A non-human ancestor did not give birth to a genetically distinct human. (Various religious groups will often attempt to infer that this is what happens and then follow up with a silly question like: If a non-human gave birth to a human, who did the first human mate with?)

    Instead it's best to think of the process as a gradual transition.
  4. Sep 20, 2015 #3


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    Which came first? The chicken or the egg?
  5. Sep 20, 2015 #4


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    As Choppy says, there was not a "first human" in the sense used in the OP. "Species" is a coarse concept that always refers to populations that are not always meaningful when applied to questions about single individuals.

    However, it is indeed an interesting question how sexual reproduction evolved and is maintained.

    Carl Zimmer
    On the Origins of Sexual Reproduction

    Origins of Eukaryotic Sexual Reproduction

    Ursula Goodenough and Joseph Heitman
  6. Sep 20, 2015 #5

    jim mcnamara

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    There is no first human, per se. What we see is a spectrum of changes (localized into fossils). This is like trying to learn the history of the Nordic peoples in the British Isles by reading extant rune stones. How many rune stones are gone? How representative is a single runestone? There is information in them, just not the kind of data to tell a long history in great detail.

    The "first" concept is a bit simplistic, IMO. Where and how do you draw the line between the second and the first human? This is Anthropology by the way. It has a very limited sample space for early hominins. H. neladi was a super-unusual find. Normally there are jaw fragments, or skull fragments, not an array of whole body fossils of differing ages and sexes. Most species of humans are represented by a few fractional fossils at most.

    The task is daunting.
  7. Sep 20, 2015 #6


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    Every offspring has mutations. You have mutations in your DNA that your parents didn't have (though you inherited some of their mutations). Evolution is about the changes in lineages of organisms due to the accumulation of mutations over many generations. Because these changes are gradual, it would be very difficult to look back and try to pinpoint a single organism and say, "There's the first human".
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