If man or his antecedents appeared on the Earth more than a million years before the Bible claims it would mean one of four things.
There are hundreds of thousands of people who believe that the Bible is correct. They believe that the Earth is only 6,000 to 10,000 years old. They cannot believe anything else because if they come to the conclusion that any of the four things above are true it probably means that number four is true. That would be unbearable to those people.
Trying to decide when man first appeared on earth requires us to decide exactly what we consider a man. There is no doubt that man is a primate. Our current knowledge of DNA shows that we have more in common with chimpanzees, apes, baboons and all the monkeys then we have with other mammals. Science recognized the fact that we are primates even before the discovery of DNA by such similarities between us and other primates as the presence of hands and feet, very dexterous hands, 3-D vision and the bone structure of the face. Current scientific knowledge indicates that primates began evolving on a different branch of evolution from other mammals about 65 million years ago.
According to the Smithsonian Institution, primates that looked like humans began to appear about 6 to 8 million years ago. The genus Homo, to which we as Homo sapiens belong appeared about 2.5 million years ago.
The earliest indications found so far of the separation between man and the other great apes were fossils dating back about 5 ½ million years ago showing differences between hominins (that’s our branch of the tree) from chimpanzees who are our closest non-hominin relatives. Probably the main indication of the difference was the way the skull attached to the spine. It suggested that this early ancestor spent much of his time walking upright.
Perhaps the most famous fossil ancestor found was nicknamed Lucy. That fossil dated from between 3 to 4 million years ago. Researchers were able to compile a lot of information about Lucy because they found about 40% of her skeleton as compared to much smaller finds of earlier remains. Lucy was a clear example of the progress of evolution. She was 3’7” tall and weighed 64 pounds. She walked upright. Her pelvis and leg bones were like those of modern man indicating that she walked on 2 feet. Her upper body looked more like an ape with long arms indicating she probably spent the night in trees.
The earliest members of our line of ancestors is generally considered the one called homo habilis dates back to 1 ½ to 2 ½ million years ago. They were the first to regularly use stones as tools.
Modern humans belong to the species called Homo sapiens. Until recently, the earliest fossil remains of Homo sapiens were dated about 195,000 years ago, found in East Africa. Recent fossils found in Morocco are about 300,000 years old. The image is the adult mandible recently found.
I want to point out here the difference between the scientific method of discovery and the so called "Science of Intelligent Design" that too many of our "intelligent" politicians want to push into school curricula to replace or compete with the science of evolution. This new discovery of older fossils, when investigated and subjected to peer review are shown to be factual, science corrects the facts listed prior to the discovery. The "Intelligent Design" folks just go on believing that the Earth is only about 6,000 years old.