Created By: indirectactivetransport on September 1, 2013 Last Edited By: IndirectActiveTransport on March 1, 2014
Troped

Original Man

People were a little different back then.

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Trope
For the last two hundred thousand years or so, Cro-Magnon, the modern homosapien, has changed very little. Any given pair of individuals in this time period would be visually indistinguishable as species so long as they were subjected to the same environmental factors. However, the hominid genus is about a million years old, and modern homosapien is just the last sliver of it, definitely not the original and the original hominid would not be recognized as any species living today.

That is if anything could be called the original hominid, the idea of one is considered outdated as of this writing but there has been much speculation, study and effort to find the original man, probably some outlandish fiction too. In fact, this is one of the oldest tropes in the book. Compare to precursors, which are more about societies rather than physical differences, Frazetta Man and All Cavemen Were Neanderthals.

A variation of the trope is an older species of man that was wiped out before ours began or is biologically independent of the homosapien genus in some other way.

Examples

Comics
  • In Marvel Comics's Earth X/Universe X/Paradise X trilogy, the original humans were a feral, beastlike race before the Celestials came to our planet and began fiddling with our genetics. The Celestials use young planets as "incubators" for their kind, and Superhumans were created to act as "antibodies" to protect the planet from invasion—particularly from Galactus, their sworn enemy. It turns out that Wolverine is not a mutant, but actually the last "pure" human left alive.
  • In Marvel comics, Adam K'ad-mon is a man-thing lookalike who is believed by some to be the original human being and protects the prime matrix, which is the focal point of the "multiverse".
  • According to Marville Wolverine was the first human. He evolved from an otter.

Film
  • In Mission to Mars, the then famous face was theorized to have been carved by original man. (Then famous because when we actually saw it in real life it turned out not to be a face.)

Literature
  • One early Discworld novel reveals that the First Men of the Disc created by the gods were immensely powerful beings, which took one look at their situation and lost their tempers. After the resulting mayhem, men were re-created a good deal smaller.

Live Action TV
  • Stargate's Alterans, an ancient human subspecies predating Cro-Magnon. They are indistinguishable from homo sapiens outwardly, technically have much greater genetic diversity on account of longer existence and wider distribution but so few are left in the visible universe that it is almost a mute point. The Stargate builders among them left behind a lot of technology that only works when used by people with their genes though.

Real life
  • "The" Original Man is suspect, as we cannot be sure a new fossil won't be discovered that's a better candidate than the currently-known hominids. Plus, where do you draw the line between Original Man and common ancestor of humans and other apes?

Religion, Folklore and Mythology
  • The Book of Genesis describes the creation of humans beings twice. First time man and woman are created at the same time and told to take care of the Earth and multiply across it by God. The second time woman is made from man, they were originally immortal, and reproduction is a punishment for eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, which causes them to experience mortality as a price for gaining moral judgment similar to God's. Some ways of looking at it, as relating to this trope:
    • Adam, Eve, and the garden of Eden were created separately from the rest of the Earth. Adam and Eve joined original man after being forced out of the garden. (in religious that do not take Enoch as canon it might can account for the half breed Nephilim. The sons of God being original man, the daughters of men being from Adam's line and the giant Nephilim being hybrids. Those accepting Enoch see fallen angels as responsible, suggesting a different trope)
    • Original woman abandoned Adam or was forced out of the garden by him and a new woman was created who was more similar to Adam in her makeup.
  • In the Zohar and other Kabbalah texts, original man, Adam Kadmon, is not so much a physical being as it is a spiritual realm from which every human body gets its soul.
  • Thanks to syncreticism, original woman is often equated to Lilith (originally an animal in The Bible or a demon in Sumerian Mythology), which would make her very different from modern woman and would imply demons were the original intended path of evolution man would take since Lilith creates them by prostituting herself to or forcing herself on men too weak to resist.
  • In Manichean religion, original man was a creation of God given to the world of light to help them fight off the invading forces of The Antigod from the world of darkness. Modern man was a mistake caused by not properly following God's instruction.
  • In a lot of Gnostic discourses, modern man is said to be an illusion and inferior imitation of the original man.
  • Adam and Eve are described as having been giants (about 60 cubits tall, or 90 feet) in Mohammedan Islam tradition, with each successive generation of descendants gradually decreasing in proportions to the size modern humans have been for the last few thousand years. Also, humans originally did not age but started doing so many thousands of years later (partially in response to Abraham asking God for a sign that his life is nearing its end).
  • In some Chinese creation stories, original man Pan Gu was a giant and modern man were as fleas living on his flesh. When Pan Gu died his remains became many of the Earth's features. In fact there would not even be a planet if Pan Gu had not shaped it while he was alive.
  • The original man, Kali (or Kaliyan) was born from a fragment of evil in Ayyavazhi mythology and he and his later created wife are distinct from swyambhuvana manu, the naturally evolved man of wider Hindu religion (and is not to be confused with the righteous goddess Kali either).
  • In Mayan Mythology, the gods tried to destroy original man with a great flood but a few people managed to survive. For this act of defiance they were turned into the monkeys which populate the American jungles to this day.
  • Aztec Mythology, told that the original human race was devoured by ocelots. Not so cute anymore is it?
  • Creek Indians had taught that sky people predated the human race and that fire was stolen from them for us.
  • Classical Greek religion taught that when men were created by the Titans they had two heads, four arms, four legs and both sets of reproductive organs. They were later divided into males and females (the way most gods already were).
  • Izanagi and Izanami of Shinto are often interpreted as a god couple by modern readers but the classical texts suggest something more along the lines of original human beings, the vast differences between us and them simply popping up over time.

Tabletop games
  • Demon: The Fallen actually depicts Adam and Eve as Ultimate Lifeforms. Their antediluvian descendants are also described as exceptionally powerful, if only because they had infinite faith (in God and the angels)—something that their modern descendants severely lack, much to the dismay of the returning Fallen.

Video games
  • In the Nasuverse, copies are always inferior to the original, and since children are considered copies of their originals, the first humans (i.e. human archetypes) have been immensely more powerful than their modern descendants.
  • In the Assassin's Creed franchise, humans are lifeforms created by members of an ancient and powerful race to be used as a Servant Race via Mind Manipulation. They look like us in pretty much every significant way, but with six senses instead of five. Adam and Eve were not the first humans, but the first Half Human Hybrids that were immune to their mind control. Millennia later, in the present, the ancient race is extinct and what was left of their genes has become severely diluted in the modern human race. As a result, we are all once again susceptible to Mind Manipulation.
  • In the Xenogears canon, the humans that live on the planet the game is set on are descendants of the creations of "Deus", the supercomputer that acts as the overarching central antagonist. As such, all humans are "pieces" of Deus itself that it one day plans to absorb as part of a millennia-long self-repair program. The "original" humans were part of the spaceship which Deus took over and destroyed.
  • Halo's original man used to be a lot more powerful but precursors conquered and reduced him to what eventually became his weaker modern form.
Community Feedback Replies: 33
  • September 1, 2013
    ShanghaiSlave
    better name? mistook this for Precursors. probably The First Humans. not clever nor witty, but you'd be spot on if you google such keywords.
  • September 1, 2013
    IndirectActiveTransport
    I don't see how first humans is better than original man, which is just the literal translation of Adam Kadmon. If I was going to remane it, that would be my first choice but it seems to obscure and too forced to include Pan Gu and Kali, even though they are technically describing the same concept.
  • September 1, 2013
    Koveras
    • In the Nasuverse, copies are always inferior to the original, and since children are considered copies of their originals, the first humans (i.e. human archetypes) have been immensely more powerful than their modern descendants.
    • Demon The Fallen actually depicts Adam and Eve as Ultimate Lifeforms. Their antediluvian descendants are also described as exceptionally powerful, if only because their had infinite faith (in God and the angels)--something that their modern descendants severely lack, much to the dismay of the returning Fallen.
  • September 2, 2013
    ShanghaiSlave
    ^^ yeah, good point. i'm pretty stumped on naming this one.
  • September 2, 2013
    SharleeD
    • One early Discworld novel reveals that the First Men of the Disc created by the gods were immensely powerful beings, which took one look at their situation and lost their tempers. After the resulting mayhem, men were re-created a good deal smaller.

    Note that talking about "the" Original Man in Real Life could be setting this trope up for Science Marches On, as we can't be sure a new fossil won't be discovered that's a better candidate for the job than the currently-known hominids. Plus, where do you draw the line between Original Man and Original Chimp-Like/Man-Like Transitional Primate?
  • September 25, 2013
    Cider
    In Mayan Mythology, the gods tried to destroy original man with a great flood but a few people managed to survive. For this act of defiance they were turned into the monkeys which populate the American jungles to this day.
  • September 25, 2013
    DracMonster
    This is very close to Adam And Eve Plot. I think it's distinct but you'll need to delineate the difference to prevent Trope Decay.

    Also in Real Life, there was no such thing as a "first human." There were gradually morphing primates. (Or should I say "are gradually morphing." It didn't magically end with present day humans.)

    EDIT: doh, didn't read Sharlee's reply. Oh well.
  • September 26, 2013
    Cider
    "This is a plot where the remainders of a group, especially an entire race, must be protected from extinction. Occasionally, the final two actually do perish, but not before producing offspring who repopulate the species." Or, in other words, this is not like Adam And Eve Plot at all. If people think it is there has already been trope decay.

    If there was to be a trope to confuse with this one it would be human aliens, Advanced Ancient Humans or as previously mentioned, precursors. I will leave the sponsor to sort out exactly what those differences are.

    But to give an example. In Inca religion, all but one man and one woman of the first human population was wiped out by a great flood because Viracocha did not like them. He then created new people who would become us. The only reason I did not immediately suggest it as an example is I am not sure how different Original man was from modern man in this case, since this trope seems to be about physical differences. If there were some kind of physical difference in the descendants of the original man though that would be this trope and Adam and Eve plot.

    And how could I forget Aztec Mythology, in which the original human race was devoured by ocelots. Not so cute anymore is it?

    Creek Indians had taught that sky people predated the human race and that fire was stolen from them for us.

    Classical Greek religion taught that when men were created by the Titans they had two heads, four arms, four legs and both sets of reproductive organs. They were later divided into males and females (the way most gods already were).

    Izagnagi and Izagnami of Shinto are often interpreted as a god couple by modern readers but the classical texts suggest something more along the lines of original human beings, the vast differences between us and them simply popping up over time.
  • November 20, 2013
    KingZeal
    In the Assassins Creed franchise, humans are lifeforms created by members of an ancient and powerful race to be used as a Servant Race via Mind Manipulation. They look like us in pretty much every significant way, but with six senses instead of five. Adam and Eve were not the first humans, but the first Half Human Hybrids that were immune to their mind control. Millennia later, in the present, the ancient race is extinct and what was left of their genes has become severely diluted in he modern human race. As a result, we are all once again susceptible to Mind Manipulation.
  • November 22, 2013
    KingZeal
    In Marvel Comics's Earth X/Universe X/Paradise X trilogy, the original humans were a feral, beastlike race before the Celestials came to our planet and began fiddling with our genetics. The Celestials use young planets as "incubators" for their kind, and Superhumans were created to act as "antibodies" to protect the planet from invasion—particularly from Galactus, their sworn enemy. It turns out that Wolverine is not a mutant, but actually the last "pure" human left alive.
  • November 23, 2013
    KingZeal
    Got another example.

    • In the Xenogears canon, the humans that live on the planet the game is set on are descendants of the creations of "Deus", the supercomputer that acts as the overarching central antagonist. As such, all humans are "pieces" of Deus itself that it one day plans to absorb as part of a millennia-long self-repair program. The "original" humans were part of the spaceship which Deus took over and destroyed.
  • November 23, 2013
    IndirectActiveTransport
    I expected to see more but between Sharleed, Koveras, King Zeal and Cider I think we have a respectable amount of examples now. Thank you.
  • November 23, 2013
    KingZeal
    You'll likely get more after you launch and crosswick.

    Also, I know I've seen this trope more often, but it's hard to think of examples at the moment.
  • November 24, 2013
    zarpaulus
    The Stargate example is a bit rambling and incomprehensible. Try this instead.

    • In the Stargate universe humans first evolved in another galaxy. Fleeing a religious war one group called the Alterans colonized the Milky Way millions of years ago. They built the stargate network at that point. But then a plague swept across the galaxy, possibly thanks to their rivals the Ori. The survivors then fled to the Pegasus galaxy in their city-ship Atlantis, after manipulating evolution on earth so that humans would arise again. In the Pegasus galaxy they seeded thousands of worlds with human life but that led to the Wraith, who drove them back to earth 10,000 years ago. Afterwards most of the few who remained Ascended, and they try not to interfere with us.
  • November 24, 2013
    IndirectActiveTransport
    The important part here is how the original man is distinct from the modern one. Since the alterans technically are not extinct their genetic differences had to be made clear. I did shorten the entry so it should be an easier read.
  • November 27, 2013
    Jaqen
    ""The" Original Man is suspect, as we cannot be sure a new fossil won't be discovered that's a better candidate than the currently-known hominids. Plus, where do you draw the line between Original Man and common ancestor of humans and other apes?"

    IIRC Humans are 98% chimp, 95% gorilla and 54% banana. EITHER:

    • Write a story about monkeys OR
    • Write a story about people OR
    • Write a story about characters who are people/monkey hybrids.

  • November 28, 2013
    IndirectActiveTransport
    And 49% Oak tree. Why are you answering the question in the real life section? I assumed it was rhetorical. I mean, we can see where to hypothetically start in every other (soon to be) folder.
  • December 1, 2013
    MarqFJA
    Typo: "Izagnagi" and "Izagnami" should be "Izanagi" and "Izanami".
  • December 1, 2013
    IndirectActiveTransport
    Fixed.
  • December 26, 2013
    MarqFJA
    Say, in Islam, Adam and Eve are described as having been giants (about 60 cubits tall, or 90 feet), with each successive generation of their descendants gradually decreasing in proportions (and persumably physical strength/abilities) from that size to what we modern humans have been for the last few thousand years; it also mentions that humans originally did not age, but started doing so many thousands of years later (around the time of Abraham, I believe; IINM it's partially in response to him asking God that he be given a sign that his life is nearing its end).

    Does the above count as this trope?
  • December 27, 2013
    DAN004
    ^ Yes, yes they do
  • January 21, 2014
    KingZeal
    Adding a hat.

    Just Launch It Already.
  • January 22, 2014
    IndirectActiveTransport
    Thank you King Zeal, however, I am willing to wait for five hats. I think way too many pages are launched as soon as they get a hat (Complete Monster is probably the shining example), and if I did not wait till five I would be setting a bad example.
  • January 27, 2014
    Cider
    In Marvel comics, Adam K'ad-mon is a man-thing lookalike who is believed by some to be the original human being and protects the prime matrix, which is the focal point of their "multiverse".
  • January 27, 2014
    randomsurfer
    According to Marville Wolverine was the first human. He evolved from an otter.
  • February 2, 2014
    AgProv
    Religion:
    • The obvious objection to a fundamentalist interpretation of the Bible is that if all the world's people descended from Adam and Eve, why are all the races and ethnicities of Man so obviously different in appearance? Creationists tend to gloss over this, usually be invoking Divine Phlebotinum -
      God is all-powerful and can ordain all things. He evidently gave our first parents abilities which have since been lost to us, or taken away since as we have no further need for them once the racial groupings were established.
    Or as one especially whacked-out preacher (Herbert W. Armstrong, a proto-televangelist in radio days) phrased it:
    Evidently the LORD provided for Mother Eve to have ovaries containing the genetic patterns for all three races. This is the only explanation!
    • A similar objection - how could the Human Race have re-established itself in such variety after Noah cane to earth after the Flood, when the only people left were four families, all closely genetically related? - is allegedly answered by the Biblical account, which, after the Flood, has the three sons of Noah having a falling-out and getting as far away from each other as they possibly could. Whole geneologies are listed in Genesis, which have been interpreted as the One True Son going west and fathering tribes who became the ancestors of white people; a second son, who displeased the LORD almightily, went west and south; as he had displeased the LORD, his sons were marked with their father's sin. And of course West and South of Ararat is Africa, if you go far enough. Guess how later theologians interpreted THIS, especially in the light of GOD making the oldest son sinless and ordained to rule over the races represented by his brothers? A third son went East, allegedly becoming the father of all Asian races and, conveniently for the narrative, of Australian aborigines. So some strange things must have been present in the ovaries of Mrs Noah and her three daughters-in-law... or indeed in the testes of Noah and his sons, which is clearly not present in the loins of later men...
  • February 2, 2014
    KingZeal
    Can I fix the description a little bit? It takes a little too long to get to its point and acts as a bit too long-winded of a history lesson.
  • February 3, 2014
    DAN004
    Dunno. Is this Up For Grabs yet?
  • February 3, 2014
    Arivne
    ^^^ This trope should not be allowed to become a debate between Creationism and Evolution, which could lead to an Edit War or Flame War between the two sides.

    The description should say that examples that try to argue either side of that debate or attack the other side are not wanted and should be deleted as per the Rule Of Cautious Editing Judgment.
  • February 3, 2014
    IndirectActiveTransport
    King Zeal, I would like to think that is what the Laconic Wiki is for. You can propose your changes in the comments though. As for being up for grabs? Have I not been the most active updater of the topic?

    To Agprov and Arivne, I really don't care about theological stances, I care about how an example relates to this trope. Something simpler

    • Fundamentalist Christians believe that man once had abilities we no longer have, which were lost as the human race developed racial differences.

    The reason I did not add this myself is that, well, the whole thing just confuses me. I sort of get "different from modern man" but don't understand the reasoning behind it at all.

    • In order for Noah's son's to each father white people, black people, Asians and pacific Islanders individually, as fundamentalist Christians suggest, they would have to have some strange things present in their reproductive organs that are no longer present in modern man.

    That one, I have not added simply because I want to make sure that is what Ag Prov is saying. It does seem like a legit example of this trope, except Abraham's sons might be too far removed for the pairs created in Genesis to be "original".
  • February 28, 2014
    JesseMB27
    Religion, Folklore, and Mythology
    • [Under the already existing Greek Mythology entry]
      • Pandora is the original Woman in most Greek Myths.
    • Ask and Embla were the first humans in Norse Mythology.
  • February 28, 2014
    DAN004
    Launch plz.
  • Jesse, were they different from modern man or disconnected from him? Otherwise Adam And Eve Plot probably has that covered already. DAN 004, I will. It just got five hats, relax.

Three days must pass before this YKTTW is Launchworthy or Discardable

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=upx8vjl3plhebn4rhtfsx2bj