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Assuming the current model of human evolution to be correct, approximately when did the earliest ancestor of humans live, who was intelligent enough, that if raised from a young enough age, could learn the necessary skills to live in today's society:

  • learn a modern language
  • learn to read and write
  • learn to use most common tools and household items
  • learn to drive a car, use a telephone, a computer, have an average job.
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Interesting question but I doubt it can be answered conclusively, we just don't have the necessary data. Also bear in mind that chimps can do all (or at least most) of the above. – terdon Jul 19 '13 at 18:43
@terdon : of course, it is impossible to give an exact date, but I was asking it in terms of orders of magnitude. (5k years? 50k years? 500k years?) And chimps definitely don't fit, not just because they are not the ancestors of humans, but because they can't learn the above skills. Learning it as a circus trick does not count. You can teach a bear to drive a bicycle, that does not mean it will have the skills to live in and integrate into human society. – vsz Jul 19 '13 at 19:48
That's exactly my point, how can you define what is a "circus trick" and what is not? Short of trying this with a real hominid, I don't see how this question could be answered. You could assume that a certain hominid would have been able to do some of these things but you can't know. Perhaps a better question would be which was the first hominid to show a society whose complexity is comparable to ours. – terdon Jul 19 '13 at 20:46
Some of your bullet points are already challenging for many Homo sapiens sapiens. ;) – Beo Apr 11 '14 at 16:25
up vote 1 down vote accepted

Interesting question.

The organism would have to be monogamous, that's for sure, otherwise it would be too competitive and it would be a beast - as chimps are. Chimps couldn't integrate into the modern society.

So, monogamy is the prime prerequisite as it's also prerequisite for intelligence. Bipedalism is another obvious prerequisite, as you need an organism with fine motorics of front limbs - and fingers.

For "modern language" you need high intelligence and the ability of abstract thinking. Same goes for reading and writing.

Humans split from great apes between 8 and 4 million years ago. Problem here is that every new piece of fossil of a human ancestor is classified as a new species, so there's very little we're certain of. I'd say the first organism capable of doing the above things existed around 200.000 years ago. Either homo erectus or, more likely, a Neanderthal.

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