Ask GeoMan...

I teach 5th grade. Can you tell me how long man has been on earth?

What a question! Ask 50 people and you'll probably get 50 different answers. According to biblical work by Archbishop James Ussher, the earth was created on the evening of October 22, 4004 BC, with the assumption that man arrived 3 (?) days later. Scientific estimates vary, and keep getting pushed back as more research is completed. One of the big problems is related to the lack of an accepted definition for what a "man" is. With regard to a "standard date," I would imagine that hundreds of thousands of years would be accepted by most anthropologists, with recent work "on the fringes" pushing the arrival of our ancestors back several million years (I've heard dates at least as old as 4 million years based on skull fragments found in Africa - which is where most would agree we started). I did a quick search on the Internet and came up with a couple sites which may supply more details (or at least a "real scientist" to hang when one of your parents storms in).

Start with this one - lots of maps and details!

This one is from the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry

And this concerns some older skulls as reported by the BBC

Good luck! If you have the time I'd love to hear how all this comes out!


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