Human

Human[1]
Temporal range: 0.35–0 Ma Middle Pleistocene – Recent
Akha cropped hires.JPG
An adult human male (left) and female (right) from the Akha tribe in Northern Thailand.
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom:Animalia
Phylum:Chordata
Class:Mammalia
Order:Primates
Suborder:Haplorhini
Infraorder:Simiiformes
Family:Hominidae
Subfamily:Homininae
Tribe:Hominini
Genus:Homo
Species:
H. sapiens
Binomial name
Homo sapiens
Linnaeus, 1758
Subspecies

Homo sapiens idaltu White et al., 2003
Homo sapiens sapiens

World human population density map.png
Homo sapiens population density
Synonyms

Humans (Homo sapiens) are the only extant members of the subtribe Hominina. Together with chimpanzees, gorillas, and orangutans, they are part of the family Hominidae (the great apes, or hominids). A terrestrial animal, humans are characterized by their erect posture and bipedal locomotion; high manual dexterity and heavy tool use compared to other animals; open-ended and complex language use compared to other animal communications; larger, more complex brains than other animals; and highly advanced and organized societies.[3][4]

Early hominins—particularly the australopithecines, whose brains and anatomy are in many ways more similar to ancestral non-human apes—are less often referred to as "human" than hominins of the genus Homo.[5] Several of these hominins used fire, occupied much of Eurasia, and gave rise to anatomically modern Homo sapiens in Africa about 315,000[6] years ago.[7][8] Humans began to exhibit evidence of behavioral modernity around 50,000 years ago, and in several waves of migration, they ventured out of Africa and populated most of the world.[9]

The spread of the large and increasing population of humans has profoundly affected much of the biosphere and millions of species worldwide. Advantages that explain this evolutionary success include a larger brain with a well-developed neocortex, prefrontal cortex and temporal lobes, which enable advanced abstract reasoning, language, problem solving, sociality, and culture through social learning. Humans use tools more frequently and effectively than any other animal; and are the only extant species to build fires, cook food, clothe themselves, and create and use numerous other technologies and arts.

Humans uniquely use such systems of symbolic communication as language and art to express themselves and exchange ideas, and also organize themselves into purposeful groups. Humans create complex social structures composed of many cooperating and competing groups, from families and kinship networks to political states. Social interactions between humans have established an extremely wide variety of values,[10] social norms, and rituals, which together undergird human society. Curiosity and the human desire to understand and influence the environment and to explain and manipulate phenomena (or events) have motivated humanity's development of science, philosophy, mythology, religion, anthropology, and numerous other fields of knowledge.

Though most of human existence has been sustained by hunting and gathering in band societies,[11] increasingly many human societies transitioned to sedentary agriculture approximately some 10,000 years ago,[12] domesticating plants and animals, thus enabling the growth of civilization. These human societies subsequently expanded, establishing various forms of government, religion, and culture around the world, and unifying people within regions to form states and empires. The rapid advancement of scientific and medical understanding in the 19th and 20th centuries permitted the development of fuel-driven technologies and increased lifespans, causing the human population to rise exponentially. The global human population was estimated to be near 7.7 billion in 2019.[13]

Etymology and definition

In common usage, the word "human" generally refers to the only extant species of the genus Homo—anatomically and behaviorally modern Homo sapiens.

In scientific terms, the meanings of "hominid" and "hominin" have changed during the recent decades with advances in the discovery and study of the fossil ancestors of modern humans. The previously clear boundary between humans and apes has blurred, resulting in biologists now acknowledging the hominids as encompassing multiple species, and Homo and close relatives since the split from chimpanzees as the only hominins. There is also a distinction between anatomically modern humans and Archaic Homo sapiens, the earliest fossil members of the species.

The English adjective human is a Middle English loanword from Old French humain, ultimately from Latin hūmānus, the adjective form of homō "man." The word's use as a noun (with a plural: humans) dates to the 16th century.[14] The native English term man can refer to the species generally (a synonym for humanity) as well as to human males, or individuals of either sex (though this latter form is less common in contemporary English).[15]

The species binomial "Homo sapiens" was coined by Carl Linnaeus in his 18th-century work Systema Naturae.[16] The generic name "Homo" is a learned 18th-century derivation from Latin homō "man," ultimately "earthly being" (Old Latin hemō a cognate to Old English guma "man", from PIE dʰǵʰemon-, meaning "earth" or "ground").[17] The species-name "sapiens" means "wise" or "sapient". Note that the Latin word homo refers to humans of either gender, and that "sapiens" is the singular form (while there is no such word as "sapien").[18]