Evolution of Humanity, the Great March Forward

Jeongok Prehistory Museum

Our earliest ancestors began to evolve in Africa about six or seven million years ago. Similar to the ancestors of gorillas, they spent most of their time in the trees, but they were also able to walk on two legs on the ground quite easily. Walking upright on two legs is often considered by scientists to be the most fundamental defining trait of human beings. The first humans started their great march across the vast land of Africa. Collecting such evidence of evolution is an extremely difficult and time-consuming process. Archeologists, anthropologists, and paleontologists are continuously striving to solve some very complicated and difficult jigsaw puzzles concerning the human evolutionary process, largely relying on ancient fossils, relics, and DNA analysis results. As a result, even professionals often propose conflicting opinions about the time and location of settlement of a certain species. However, there is no doubt that human beings have made a great march in terms of human evolution. The past brought us into existence and the future will lead us on an evolutionary journey. The moment you enter the Jeongok Prehistory Museum, you will join a several-million-year journey through the history of human evolution, walking alongside our human ancestors.
In Africa…
The First Humans: The Savannah of East Africa Approximately ten million years ago, Africa experienced frequent and powerful volcanic eruptions and, as a consequence, massive cracks started to form on the Earth’s crust and the continent started to break apart. The Great Rift Valley that divides the continent into eastern and western Africa is also believed to have formed during this crustal movement, or so-called ‘diastrophism’. This diastrophism was also accompanied by continuous climate change – changing wind conditions, repeated cycles of extremely cold and hot weather, and a decrease in rainfall. Ultimately, much of the African continent gradually transformed from a tropical rainforest region filled with trees and forests into vast savannahs, in other words, dry grassland with a scattering of trees. The ancestors of Australopithecus dwelled in tropical rainforest trees from which they obtained abundant food. However, changes in their living environment, namely, from forests into grasslands due to climate change led to food shortages, leaving them no choice but to adapt to the new savanna environments. Accordingly, they climbed down from the trees and began to stand upright on two legs, spending more time on the ground. These earliest humans of the savannahs picked plants and berries, ate insects or scavenged the leftovers of large predators, although they were so vulnerable that they often became the prey of carnivores, such as lions, themselves. As a result, they opted to adapt to a new environment out of the forests, and their ability to walk on two legs left their hands free to carry food and take care of their offspring, which eventually enabled them to survive in the harsh environment of the savannah.

Found in the Djurab Desert in northern Chad, Central Africa, Toumai dates back some 6 or 7 million years, making it one of the oldest hominid fossils ever found. Fossils of the near-complete skull, fragments of jaw, and some teeth were discovered by the research team of Michel Brunet of the University of Poitiers in 2001. Toumai, which means ‘hope of life’ in the local language of Chad, has the binomial name Sahelanthropus tchadensis. Toumai’s cranial features, including a braincase that is only a little bit smaller than that of the chimpanzee, a flatter (inclined) face, and heavy brow ridge, are similar to those of anthropoids. Its major characteristics are its small canines and the anterior foramen magnum, which is the hole through which the spinal cord exits the skull (providing anatomical evidence that Toumai was bipedal).
The Toumai fossils were discovered in the desert of Chad, Central Africa, which is 2,500 kilometers west of the Rift Valley, from which the previous earliest hominid fossils had been found, indicating that the settlements of the early archeoanthropine were more spread out than previously thought. It is assumed that Toumai ate leaves, fruits, seeds, root vegetables, and small insects. Although no postcranial remains (i.e. bones below the skull) have been discovered, it is estimated that they were similar to the chimpanzee. According to scholars, Toumai existed around 6 to 8 million years ago after the split of the human line from that of gorillas and chimpanzees, and is highly likely to be our oldest known human ancestor. Although many questions remain to be answered, Toumai is regarded as evidence of the progress of human revolution.

Place of Settlement: Republic of Chad
Period: 6-7 million years ago
Discovery Site: Toros-Menalla
Species: Sahelanthropus tchadensis
Nick-name: Toumai (‘hope of life’ in the local language)
Cranial Capacity: 320-380cc
Major Characteristics: Small canines and an anterior foramen magnum, (which is the hole through which the spinal cord exits the skull, providing anatomical evidence that Toumai was bipedal). 

Lucy, a member of the Australopithecus afarensis species, is the most common and well-known of all hominid fossils ever found. The American anthropologist Donald Johanson discovered several hundred pieces of bone representing about 46% of the entire skeleton, including the skull, at Hadar in the Afar depression in Ethiopia, Africa in 1974.
Lucy was a female with a height of about 107cm and a weight of 28kg. She is estimated to have lived about 2.8 million years ago, wandering around the woods of the savannah in a bipedal upright walk rather than a quadrupedal posture after descending from the trees in East Africa. Lucy’s wide but short pelvic bones and thigh bones, which were turned inward, show that these hominids walked erect like modern humans. However, its conical rib cage, short legs, and small brain, as well as the mandibular structure, are more similar to those of anthropoids than those of humans. In addition, judging from her long fingers and toes, which seem suited to climbing trees, it is assumed that she spent most of her time in the trees like other anthropoids, rather than walking bipedally in an upright posture. Lucy was named after the Beatle’s song Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds, which was played at the party held to celebrate her discovery. Lucy is also known as "Dinenesh", which means "you are beautiful" in the local language in Ethiopia. Lucy is considered a very important fossil, providing the most direct evidence that our human ancestors were already walking upright millions of years ago, in line with the great progress of human evolution.

Place of Settlement: Ethiopia
Period: About 2.8 million years ago
Discovery Site: Midstream of the Awash River at Hadar, Ethiopia
Species: Australopithecus afarensis
Nick-name: Lucy, after the Beatle’s song "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds", which was played at the party held to celebrate her discovery.
Cranial Capacity: About 450cc
Major Characteristics: The skeleton had been mostly recovered. The diastema between its carnivore tooth and the next tooth remains.

In 1992, Joel Rock discovered a fossilized skull of Australopithecus afarensis, the same species as Lucy, at Hadar in Ethiopia, where Lucy was also found. 70% of the skull fossil, consisting of about sixty fragments of skull, was recovered through an elaborate connective work, which also showed that its cranial capacity was approximately 500cc.
This hominin species is estimated to have lived about 3 million years ago. As the size of the skull is much larger than that of Lucy’s, it is thought that this skull of the hominin species belonged to a male Australopithecus afarensis. The difference in the size of the skulls provided the basis for the assertion that the bodies of male and female Australopithecus afarensis were also of different sizes. The nick-name of this specimen, ‘Lucien’, was derived from Lucy by adding the -en suffix, meaning ‘male’ in French. Some scholars say that Lucien constitutes evidence that the body sizes of males and females differed during the evolutionary process of the archeoanthropine. However, the debate still continues over the difference in body sizes, as we cannot be certain whether these differences can be put down to individual differences or whether there was an actual difference between the sexes.

Place of Settlement: Ethiopia
Period: About 3 million years ago
Discovery Site: In midstream of the Awash River at Hadar in Ethiopia
Species: Australopithecus afarensis
Nick-name: Lucien (meaning “Lucy’s boyfriend”)
Cranial Capacity: About 550cc
Major Characteristics: Lucien is the fossil hominid suggesting that there was the difference of the body size between the sexes in the evolutionary process of early hominids.

Paranthropus boisei was found at Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania by the anthropologist Mary Leakey, wife of the famous anthropologist Louis Leakey, in 1959. In the period following its discovery, the fossil was called Zinjanthropus boisei’, but it was also called Australopithecus boisei’. However, as anatomical differences between Australopithecus and Paranthropus were recently identified, the species was renamed Paranthropus boisei. Due to its robust, well-developed jaw muscles, it is believed that Paranthropus boisei was able to eat solid foods, and was thus nicknamed ‘Nutcracker Man’. Paranthropus boisei is believed to have lived between 2.5 and 1.2 million years ago throughout Eastern Africa, and is estimated to have weighed about 45kg, stood about 1m tall, and had a brain with a volume of about 530cc.

Place of Settlement: Tanzania
Period: About 3 million years ago
Discovery Site: Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania
Species: Paranthropus boisei
Nick-name: Nutcracker Man, signifying its characteristically strong jaw
Cranial Capacity: About 530cc
Major Characteristics: Wide flat face, solid molars, and heavy brow ridge.
Originally, it was classified as Zinjanthropus.

Homo habilis is a hominid fossil that belonged to the genus Homo about 2.5 million years ago when human evolution entered a new phase: Homo habilis had a prominent forehead and a larger braincase compared to earlier hominin species, and used stone tools. The first fossils were found by Louis and Mary Leakey in 1959 at Olduvai Gorge in the Serengeti National Park, Tanzania. Compared with previous species including Australopithecus, H. habilis had more human characteristics such as a larger brain volume and a smaller face and molars. However, its long arms and prognathic face are still similar to those of anthropoids.
According to the fossil data found, H. habilis was 130-150cm tall on average, and has a brain volume of around 600-750cc. Homo habilis means ‘Handy man’ or ‘Able man’ in Latin, hence the nickname “Handy Man.” Judging from the fossilized bones of arms and legs, H. habilis was bipedal and used tools sure-handedly. H. habilis is commonly known as the first hominid to make and use stone tools. As H. habilis was able to use stone tools to hunt animals and to remove meat from bones in order to eat meat and marrow, its consumption of animal foods greatly increased. Its brain capacity was also astonishingly developed at over 650cc. H. habilis is believed to have existed until about 1.5 million years ago. Although there are still various opinions about its relation to other later species of the Homo genus on the evolutionary ladder, H. habilis is thought to have appeared in the intermediate period between Australopithecus and Homo erectus.

Place of Settlement: Eastern and Southern Africa
Period: About 1.8 million years ago
Discovery Site: Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania
Species: Homo habilis
Nick-name: Handy Man, Able Man
Cranial Capacity: Approx. 600-750cc
Major Characteristics: Prominent forehead, smaller molars, first species to use stone tools.

In 1986, Russian scientist V.P. Alexeev named the species Homo rudolfensis after researching an earlier discovery of KNM-ER 1470 fossils (in 1972) near the shores of Lake Rudolf (now known as Lake Turkana) and identified different characteristics to Homo habilis from KNM-ER 1470. Although Homo rudolfensis had a similar appearance to Homo habilis, it had a larger braincase, and differently-shaped teeth and jaws. However, some scholars think that such anatomical differences are simply due to differences between the sexes rather than to the existence of two separate species. Today, most scholars who recognize Homo rudolfensis believe that four species - Homo rudolfensis, Homo habilis, Homo erectus, and Paranthropus boisei - lived together in the Turkana Basin, northern Kenya, sometime between 2.0 and 1.5 million years ago. H. rudolfensis is also believed to have used tools like other species of the Homo genus. There are still many questions to be answered regarding the Homo genus, such as: Which of the species of Homo living around Lake Turkana in Eastern Africa used the stone tools first? And which species is directly related to modern humans?

Place of Settlement: Kenya
Period: Approx. 1.8 to 1.9 million years ago
Discovery Site: Koobi Fora, Lake Turkana basin, Kenya
Species: Homo rudolfensis
Cranial Capacity: Approx. 750-800cc
Major Characteristics: Originally the fossil was considered to be H. habilis, but due to anatomical differences, it was classified as H. rudolfensis. 

A complete skull fossil of Homo ergaster was discovered at Koobi Fora in the eastern area of Lake Turkana, Kenya in 1975. The skull, with a cranial capacity of about 880cc, was similar to the skull fossil found at Zhoukoudian near Beijing, China, and exhibited the characteristic features of Homo erectus discovered in Asia. However, H. ergaster is distinguished from H. erectus by its thinner skull-bones and lack of an obvious supraorbital foramen. Nariokotome Boy (KNM-WT 15000) is the most complete skeleton of H. ergaster among the hominin fossils found to date. The fossil of Nariokotome Boy indicates that H. ergaster, as an early human who was tall with long legs and short arms, basically had a body of similar proportions to those of modern humans. In particular, his long legs and thin ribs helped him to live in the hot, dry climate of East Africa. Judging from his physical structure, which allowed him to walk long distances in the open terrain of the savannah beneath the blazing sunshine, it is assumed that H. ergaster was the first hominid to have migrated out of Africa.

Place of Settlement: Eastern and Southern Africa
Period: 1.6 to 1.75 million years ago
Discovery Site: Koobi Fora, Lake Turkana basin, Kenya
Species: Homo ergaster
Cranial Capacity: 850-880cc
Major Characteristics: As this species differed from Asian Homo erectus, which was the first species to have migrated beyond Africa, from an anatomical point of view, it was classified as H. ergaster. 

Into Eurasia…

In 1887, the Dutch paleoanthropologist Eugène Dubois traveled to Java Island, Indonesia, to find fossil evidence of human evolution. After several years of continuous excavations, he miraculously discovered fossil hominids in 1891, including a skullcap and a femur from the bank of the Solo River at Trinil in East Java. In 1894, Dubois named the species Pithecanthropus erectus (later classified as Homo erectus, meaning ‘upright man’), as he thought the fossil was the transitional form - the so-called ‘missing link’ - between apes and humans, because at that time, people believed that the human ancestor was the ‘erect ape-man’.
Then, in 1969, a farmer found a well-preserved skull fossil in a field in Sangiran, Central Java. This fossil, named Sangiran 17, has a smaller brain than Homo sapiens, and displays the typical characteristics of H. erectus such as large brow ridges and a less protrusive lower yet strong jaw. Therefore, Sangiran 17 was also classified as Homo erectus along with the fossils found by Dubois. Pithecanthropus erectus (later classified as Homo erectus), which is also known as Java Man, constitutes evidence that the species rapidly spread out eastwards and out of Africa. The multi-regional evolution theory used Indonesia’s Java Man as its theoretical basis for a long time, explaining that modern humans evolved from H. erectus in many other regions of the world one to two million years ago. However, the ‘out of Africa’ theory is now the most widely accepted model, suggesting that the ancestors of modern humans appeared about 150,000 years ago, based on recent studies of mitochondrial DNA.

Place of Settlement: Java, Indonesia
Period: Approx. 800,000 years ago
Discovery Site: Sangiran, Indonesia
Species: Homo erectus
Cranial Capacity: 1029cc
Major Characteristics: The fossil is a significant discovery, showing that the hominin species settled in another continent out of Africa.

In the 1920s, some fossils excavated from an ancient cave at Zhoukoudian (near Beijing) in China were sold as precious medicinal substances called ‘dragon bones’. Later, they were surprisingly identified as fossil hominids. During the 1930s, an excavation-investigation was conducted at the cave in Zhoukoudian during which the fossils of forty individual human specimens were uncovered. Unfortunately, the fossils were lost during the Second World War, and only the replica of a cranium has been preserved. The fossils of Beijing Man exhibit the typical characteristics of H. erectus, such as a long cranium with an external occipital protuberance, an inclined forehead, and heavy brow ridges. The species was named ‘Beijing Man’ after the location of the discovery site. Through an archaeological analysis of the findings, including animal remains and pollen excavated together with the fossils, it was confirmed that the species lived about 400,000 to 500,000 years ago. In particular, as the remains of ashes were also found in the ground where the fossils were excavated, there is a great possibility that Beijing Man used fire. Beijing Man constitutes invaluable evidence to support the theory that H. erectus left Africa and adapted to diverse environments, and lived widely throughout Asia.

Place of Settlement: Around Beijing, China
Period: About 700,000-300,000 years ago
Discovery Site: The Lower Cave at Locality 1 of the Site at Zhoukoudian, near Beijing, in China
Species: Homo erectus
Cranial Capacity: 1043cc
Major Characteristics: Use of fire.

In 2003, a joint Indonesian-Australian research team discovered an unusual looking skull in Liang Bua Cave on the island of Flores in Indonesia. Although the skull was as small as that of a modern human child, its teeth were much worn and appeared to be those of an adult. The discoverers assigned the skeleton to a new species, Homo floresiensis, named after the island on which it was discovered. H. floresiensis was later nicknamed the ‘Hobbit’, after the fictional race of dwarf-like people popularized in J.R.R. Tolkien’s books The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings and the eponymously titled movies. LB-1, a fairly complete skeleton of H. floresiensis including a nearly complete cranium, was discovered to be a 30-year-old female only a little over 1m tall. Her brain was as small as that of an anthropoid. Judging from the stone tools that were discovered together with the skeleton, it is assumed that H. floresiensis hunted animals and was skilled in the use of stone tools. H. floresiensis, who lived about 18,000 years ago, is regarded as an astonishing piece of evidence in human evolutionary research. Although there has been considerable scientific debate over whether H. floresiensis was a modern human with a disease or growth disorder, most scientists recognize that H. floresiensis evolved into a species with a small body due to long-term isolation on the island and limited food resources. There are still a number of puzzling questions to figure out, such as how H. floresiensis evolved such a tiny body under what kind of circumstances, and how H. floresiensis is related to modern humans in evolutionary history.

Place of Settlement: Indonesia
Period: 18,000-95,000 years ago
Discovery Site: Liang Bua Cave on the island of Flores in Indonesia
Species: Homo floresiensis
Nick-name: Hobbit
Cranial Capacity: 417cc
Major Characteristics: A small body that evolved as a result of adaptation to the isolated environment of the island.

In 1856, a group of limestone miners found some strange looking bones in the Neander Valley, Dusseldorf, in Germany. Originally they were thought to be the bones of a bear, but eight years later, the remains were identified as a new species of hominin and classified as Homo neanderthalensis. Later, many more remains of H. neanderthalensis were discovered throughout Europe and West Asia.
Some defining features of H. neanderthalensis include its large face, angled jaw, and huge nose, as well as its more robust build compared with modern humans, which enabled it to adapt to the cold climate. Neanderthals lived between about 200,000 years and 30,000 years ago, withstanding the cold climate during the Ice Age in Europe and parts of West Asia. Neanderthals were good at making stone tools with relatively advanced technology, including sophisticated flake tools with a sharp edge, picks, and stone cleavers to hunt big animals. They also knew how to control and use fire. In addition, they made and wore clothing made from animal skins for protection against the cold weather, and made ornamental objects, too. According to an archaeological document, they also buried their dead and sometimes even marked the graves with offerings of flowers. Neanderthals probably had an unsophisticated language. Neanderthals died out in Europe about 30,000 years ago sometime after Homo sapiens arrived in Europe. The reason for Neanderthal man’s extinction is still a mystery – it is not clear whether Neanderthals were unable to survive the competition with H. sapiens or not. The results of DNA analyses of Neanderthals’ fossils have shown that Neanderthals and modern humans do not share any mitochondrial DNA, meaning that the two species are different genetically. However, certain scientists still assert that the two species are related genetically. We expect that further DNA studies and new excavations of Neanderthals will help us to identify the relationship between modern humans and Neanderthals in our evolutionary history.

Place of Settlement: Europe and West Asia
Period: About 30,000-200,000 years ago
Discovery Site: The Neander Valley in Germany; La Chapelle-aux-Saints and La Ferrassie in France; Shanidar Cave in Iraq; Okladnikov Cave in Russia, and so on.
Species: Homo neanderthalensis
Nick-name: Goliath, Old Man
Cranial Capacity: 1625cc
Major Characteristics: The species had a large cranial capacity, robust build, and a strong sense of community.

Out of Africa - the emergence and dispersion of modern-day humanity

Discovered at the cave site in Yonggok-ri, Sangwon-eup, near Pyeongyang in North Korea, Yonggok Man is an early human fossil of the Upper Paleolithic Age. Various relics from the Paleolithic and Neolithic Ages were discovered at two cave sites in Yonggok in 1980-81. The remains excavated from the Paleolithic cultural layers of Cave 1 include fossils of Homo sapiens, named Yonggok Man, stone tools, bone implements, animal bones, and flat-looking bone sculptures as well as a fire site. In addition, three humeri (upper arm bones) and six thigh bones were found in Yonggok Cave, from which it has been estimated that Yonggok Man stood about 167-175cm tall. Although Yonggok Man had ‘modern’ cranial features such as a high vaulted skull with a well-developed forehead, some primitive types of quartz stone implements were also discovered there. Yonggok Man is believed to have lived around 43,000-45,000 years ago. The discovery of the remains of different species of animals at Yonggok Cave indicates a Paleolithic environment at that time. The remains of animals such as water buffalo or Dierrorhinus kirchbergensis that lived in a warm climate were found in the lower layers of the Paleolithic Age, while the remains of animals that lived in a temperate or subarctic climate were found in the upper layers. Yonggok Man is an important basis for estimating the appearance of humans on the Korean Peninsula during the Upper Paleolithic Age.

Place of Settlement: Near Pyeongyang in North Korea
Period: About 43,000-45,000 years ago
Discovery Site: Yonggok Cave, Pyeongyang, North Korea
Species: Homo sapiens
Cranial Capacity: 1,650cc
Major Characteristics: Yonggok Man represents the humans who lived on the Korean Peninsula during the Upper Paleolithic Age. The discoveries at the site include a skull and arm and leg bones.

In 1933, fossil remains of what is now known as Upper Cave Man were discovered on the upper part of Dragon Bone Hill where Beijing Man was also found. Although the Upper Cave Man fossils date back about 18,000 years, the shape of the skulls and the length of the arm and leg bones display the characteristics of modern humans. The average height of the men was 174 cm while that of the women was 159cm (i.e. not significantly different to us), and their cranial capacity was also similar to that of modern humans. In addition, various relics such as tools and ornaments made from stone and bone attest to their technical skills and artistic sensibility. Furthermore, the red iron ore powder found sprinkled around the human remains has been interpreted as evidence that they practiced burial rites for the dead. Furthermore, a bone needle unearthed from the site indicates that they were skillful makers of clothing. In total, the fossils of 118 species of animals were found at the Upper Cave site, some 30 of which are extinct. As the fossils of animals that typically lived in tropical regions - such as leopards, ostriches, and Asian elephants - were also discovered there, it is assumed that the temperature of the region was much higher at that time than it is now. Upper Cave Man exhibited similar physical characteristics to modern East Asians. Indeed, if he were standing in front of us right now, wearing the same clothes as us, we might not be able to tell him apart.

Place of Settlement: Around Beijing, China
Period: About 18,000 years ago
Discovery Site: The Upper Cave at Zhoukoudian, near Beijing, China
Species: Homo sapiens
Cranial Capacity: 1,600cc
Major Characteristics: Use of bone needles, burial rites.

The ancient human fossil remains of what is now known as Mandal Man were discovered at a cave site of the Upper Paleolithic Age, at Mandalsan Mountain, Seungho County, Pyeongyang, North Korea. Mandal Man’s frontal bone, parietal bone, occipital bone, and lower jaw were unearthed from Mandal Cave. The fossils, which belonged to a man aged 25-30, were given the name ‘Mandal Man’ after the discovery site. There are no significant differences in terms of the overall skull development, brow ridges, and lower jaw between Mandal Man and modern humans. The environment of the period in which Mandal Man lived can be explained by the many animal remains - including extinct animals such as monkeys, woolly rhinoceros, horses, Bos primigenus Bojanus, cave bears, cave hyenas, and cave lions, as well as animals that typically lived in a warm climate such as monkeys and water deer - that were also found along with the Mandal Man fossils. Mandal Man is now believed to have lived at the end of the Upper Paleolithic Age, around 12,000 years ago, and is regarded as a member of the people who lived on the Korean Peninsula during the transition from the Upper Paleolithic Age to the Neolithic Age. However, it is still uncertain whether Mandal Man is a direct ancestor of modern Korean people.

Place of Settlement: Around Pyeongyang, North Korea
Period: About 10,000-12,000 years ago
Discovery Site: Mandal Cave, Pyeongyang, North Korea
Species: Homo sapiens
Nick-name: Mandal Man
Cranial Capacity: 1,676cc
Major Characteristics: The fossil remains of ancient humans who lived between the Upper Paleolithic and Neolithic Age. 

The polar regions and the African continent…
The ability to adapt to a changing climate in order to survive is the strongest advantage possessed by humanity. For the last several million years, the planet has experienced repeated cycles of cold and warm weather. The volume of ice increased during glacial ages, but decreased during warm interglacial ages. Such changes in the weather conditions led to changes in the sea level and, consequently, all natural environments. These climate changes posed fundamental threats to all life forms on the planet; however, the human evolution that had started in Africa was not held up by the extremely cold Ice Ages. Humans put on thicker leather clothes, made more sophisticated tools and hunted more animals. They found diverse edible plants, thereby securing a more stable food source, built warmer houses and overcame the cold. In this way, the Paleolithic men who successfully evolved their adaptability to cold weather were able to live everywhere in the world, except for the South Pole.

Mammuthus primigenius is commonly known as the ‘woolly mammoth’ widely recognized as a creature of the Ice Age. The woolly mammoth had a shorter trunk than modern elephants, but the tusks were so long they touched the ground, making them suitable for digging the snow for food. As mammoths could find food even during the coldest winter, they were widely distributed throughout Europe, Asia, Siberia, and the North American tundra during the Ice Age. Their morphology and habits are well known because well-preserved mammoth fossils have been discovered in the frozen ground in Siberia. Woolly mammoths were well adapted to the cold climate, having a layer of fat up to 8cm thick under the skin, which was covered with a coat consisting of a shorter inner layer and a longer outer layer of ‘guard hair’. Their ears were far smaller than those of modern elephants, which helped reduce heat loss. Therefore, woolly mammoths were much better adapted to the severe cold weather of the Ice Age than any other animal, enabling them to live throughout northern Eurasia, Alaska, and the northern region of North America as well as Siberia.
As a specimen of a woolly mammoth was found with a spearhead of the early North American embedded in its bone, some scientists believe that hunting was the main factor that contributed to the extinction of the woolly mammoth. Many cave paintings depicting hunts of woolly mammoths by people of the prehistoric age remain to this day. Due to excessive hunting and climate change from cold to warm environments, which led to the shrinkage of its habitat, the woolly mammoth gradually became extinct. Judging from the discoveries of bones and tusks in areas of North Hamgyeong Province including Onseong, Hwadae, and Gilju, woolly mammoths are now known to have lived on the Korean Peninsula.

The woolly rhinoceros is an extinct species of rhinoceros that is believed to have lived throughout Asia and northern Europe some 1.8 million years ago during the Pleistocene epoch. The binomial name of the woolly rhinoceros is Coelodonta antiquitatis. Well-preserved specimens of the woolly rhinoceros have been discovered in frozen ground at a temperature of minus 40 degrees in Europe and Siberia. They were typically around 4 meters in length with a shoulder height of 2.2 meters, and weighed about 3 tons. It had two horns on its skull, including a larger anterior one at the end of its snout and a smaller one between the eyes, and its body was covered with a thick layer of fur. Its prominent physical characteristics include a stocky body, long and thick fur, small ears, and short, thick legs. The woolly rhinoceros was the largest land animal of the Ice Age after the woolly mammoth (Mammuthus primigenius). It is conjectured that the woolly rhinoceros also lived on the plains of the region where the temperature was relatively milder, rather than in glacial regions. Woolly rhinoceros also appear in stone-age cave paintings and engravings. In Korea, their fossils have been found in Taebaek, Gangwon Province.

Jeongok Prehistory Museum
Credits: Story

Director|Kidong Bae
Planning|Hanyong Lee
Curator|Jonghun Kim, Hyunchul Sim
Exhibition Space Construction|X-TU
Design|Hyojin Jang
Education|Jungwon Lee, Junghyun Lee
Administrative Supports|Heeju Park, Younghui Park, Wonyoung Choi
Project Supports|Taeyong Kim, Seoyeon Choi, Youngdae Kim, Hakseong Lee, Sohyun Park, Hyungmo Seong, Hogyun Kim, Kyungmin Kim, Sujin Jo
Ancient Human Model|ATELIER DAYNÈS, Kim Seong-mun
Photograph|Kyungha Kim

Credits: All media
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