Between 50,000 and 60,000 years ago, their expansion out of Africa launched the colonization of the planet by modern humans.
By 10,000 BCE, Homo sapiens had spread to all corners of the world.
The next major evolutionary step occurred around 2.3 million BCE, when primitive stone tools were used to scavenge the carcasses of animals killed by other predators, both for their meat and their marrow. habilis was most likely not capable of competing with large predators and was more prey than hunter, although H.
habilis probably did steal eggs from nests and may have been able to catch small game and weakened larger prey such as cubs and older animals. Roughly 1.8 million years ago, Homo ergaster first appeared in the fossil record in Africa.
In the 19th and 20th centuries, the populations south of the Sahara were divided into three broad ancestral groups: Hamites and Semites in the Horn of Africa and Sahel related to those in North Africa, who spoke languages belonging to the Afroasiatic family; Negroes in most of the rest of the subcontinent (hence, the former toponym Black Africa for Tropical Africa Climate zones of Africa, showing the ecological break between the hot desert climate of North Africa and the Horn of Africa (red), the hot semi-arid climate of the Sahel and areas surrounding deserts (orange) and the tropical climate of Central and Western Africa (blue).
Southern Africa has a transition to semi-tropical or temperate climates (green), and more desert or semi-arid regions, centered on Namibia and Botswana.
The Sahara pump theory explains how flora and fauna (including Homo sapiens) left Africa to penetrate the Middle East and beyond.
African pluvial periods are associated with a "wet Sahara" phase during which larger lakes and more rivers existed.
Dark and lighter green: Definition of "Sub-Saharan Africa" as used in the statistics of the United Nations institutions.
Lighter green: However, Sudan is classified as North Africa by the United Nations Statistics Division.
Simplified climatic map of Africa: Sub-Saharan Africa consists of the Sahel and the Horn of Africa in the north (yellow), the tropical savannas (light green) and the tropical rainforests (dark green) of Equatorial Africa, and the arid Kalahari Basin (yellow) and the "Mediterranean" south coast (olive) of Southern Africa.
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The numbers shown correspond to the dates of all Iron Age artifacts associated with the Bantu expansion.