modern human Humans first appeared on the planet around 195,000 years ago. At that time, several different human races lived side by side including Neanderthal man (named from where the first skeleton was found in 1856 in the Neander valley in Germany). Neanderthal people died out about 30,000 years ago. No-one knows why... but the first definite modern humans - eleven skeletons found in a cave near Nazareth in Israel - were living just 26,000 years ago. That may seem a long time to you but to a humble little shell (called Lingula) whose descendants have lived quietly and virtually unchanged since the Cambrian Era over 500 million years ago, it must seem like a... like a... well, a very short time indeed! Even to us penguins - and we've only been around for about 42 million years - you people are real upstarts, taking over the whole planet like you have in just a couple of centuries.