The term "mainstream science" denotes how most scientist understand human origins. This term is chosen carefully to enable dialogue with those who dispute mainstream science. While, for example, young earth creationists dispute the common descent of human with the great apes, they can agree this is the mainstream scientific account. Their understanding of human origins may be consistent with different theories in young earth creationist science, but it is not consistent with evolutionary science.
Consensus Scientific Claims
There are several points of disagreement and debate among mainstream scientists. The following claims, however, are well accepted by the vast majority.
- The Earth is over 4 billion years old.
- Humans share common ancestors with the great apes: chimpanzees, bonobos, orangutans, and gorillas. The human lineage diverged from the great apes about 6 million years ago.
- The ancestral population of modern day humans never drops down to a single couple.
- Humanlike behaviors appear in the archeological record gradually over the last 2 million years.
- Non-human animals can exhibit surprisingly human-like behavior.
- Human and Chimpanzee genomes are very similar, consistent with a gradual process of modification from a common starting point.