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The Human Species

The Human Species

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Published by Aarón Altamirano
The Human Species
The Human Species

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Published by: Aarón Altamirano on Oct 08, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Humans from Southeast Asia
Scientific classification
 H. sapiens
Binomial name
 Homo sapiens
Linnaeus, 1758
 Homo sapiens idaltu
et al.
, 2003
 Homo sapiens sapiens
Range of 
 Homo sapiens
 Homo sapiens
) are primates of the family Hominidae, and the only living species of the genus
They originated in Africa, where they reached anatomical modernity about 200,000 years ago andbegan to exhibit full behavioral modernity around 50,000 years ago.
The human lineage diverged from the last commonancestor with itsclosest living relative, the chimpanzee, some five million years ago, evolving into the Australopithecines and eventually the genus
The first
species to move out of Africa was
 Homo erectus
, the African variety of which, together with
 Homo heidelbergensis
,is considered to be the immediate ancestor of modern humans.
 Homo sapiens
proceeded to colonize thecontinents, arriving in Eurasia 125,000-60,000 years ago,
Australia around 40,000 years ago, the Americasaround 15,000 years ago, and remote islands such as Hawaii, Easter Island, Madagascar, and New Zealand betweenthe years 300 AD and 1280 AD.
As early as 12,000 years ago, humans began to practice sedentary agriculture,domesticating plants and animals which allowed for the growth of civilization. Humans subsequently established various forms of government,religion, and culture around the world, unifying people within a region and leading to the development of states andempires. The rapid advancement of scientific and medical understanding in the 19th and 20th centuries led to thedevelopment of fuel-driven technologies and improved health, causing the human population to rise exponentially.With individuals widespread in every continent except Antarctica, humans are a cosmopolitan species, and by 2012,their population was estimated to be around 7 billion.
Humans are characterized by having a large brain relative to body size, with a particularly well developed neocortex, prefrontal cortex and temporal lobes, making them capable of abstract reasoning, language, introspection, problemsolving and culture through social learning. This mental capability, combined with an adaptation to bipedallocomotion that frees the hands for manipulating objects, has allowed humans to make far greater use of tools thanany other living species on Earth. Humans are the only extant species known to build fires and cook their food, aswell as the only known species to clothe themselves and create and use numerous other technologies and arts. Thestudy of humans is the scientific discipline of anthropology.Humans are uniquely adept at utilizing systems of symbolic communication such as language for self-expression, theexchange of ideas, and organization. Humans create complex social structures composed of many cooperating andcompeting groups, from families and kinship networks to states. Social interactions between humans haveestablished an extremely wide variety of values, social norms, and rituals, which together form the basis of humansociety. Humans are noted for their desire to understand and influence their environment, seeking to explain andmanipulate phenomena through science, philosophy, mythology, and religion.
Etymology and definition
Further information: Man (word) and List of alternative names for the human speciesWith the discovery and study of fossil ancestors of modern humans the meaning of the word "human" changed, asthe previously clear boundary between human and ape blurred, now encompassing multiple species. Today inscientific usage "human" may refer to any member of the genus
, there is adistinction between
anatomically modern Homo sapiens
 Archaic Homo sapiens
, the earliest fossil members of the species. Sometimes groups such as the Neanderthals are classified as a subspecies of 
 Homo sapiens
 Homosapiens neanderthalensis
. However, in everyday usage, and in this article, the word "human" generally refers to theonly extant species of the genus - anatomically and behaviorally modern
 Homo sapiens
. The open question aboutpossible extinct subspecies will be briefly covered. Fossil humans are covered in the article "Homo", and in thearticles about individual species of the genus.The English adjective
is a Middle English loanword from Old French
, ultimately from Latin
, the adjective form of 
"man". The word's use as a noun (with a plural:
) dates to the 16th
The native English term
can refer to the species generally (a synonym for
), and couldformerly refer to specific individuals of either sex. The latter use is now obsolete.
Generic uses of the term "man"are declining, in favor of reserving it for referring specifically to adult males. The word is from Proto-Germanic
, from a Proto-Indo-European (PIE) root
.The species binomial
 Homo sapiens
was coined by Carl Linnaeus in his 18th century work 
Systema Naturae
, and hehimself is the lectotype specimen.
The generic name
is a learned 18th century derivation from Latin
"man", ultimately "earthly being" (Old Latin
, a cognate to Old English
"man", from PIE
,meaning 'earth' or 'ground').
The species-name
means "wise" or "sapient".
Further information: Anthropology, Homo (genus), and Timeline of human evolutionScientific study of human evolution studies the development of the genus
, reconstructing the evolutionarydivergence of the human lineage from other hominins (shared ancestors of humans and chimpanzees), hominids(great apes) and primates. "Modern humans" are defined as belonging to the species
 Homo sapiens
, specifically tothe single extant subspecies
 Homo sapiens sapiens
Evidence from molecular biology
Family tree showing the extant hominoids: humans (genus
), chimpanzeesand bonobos (genus
), gorillas (genus
), orangutans (genus
), andgibbons (four genera of the family Hylobatidae:
). All except gibbons are
The closest living relatives of humans aregorillas and chimpanzees.
With thesequencing of both the Human andChimpanzee genome, current estimates of similarity between human and chimpanzeeDNA sequences range between 95% and99%.
By using the techniquecalled a molecular clock which estimates thetime required for the number of divergentmutations to accumulate between twolineages, the approximate date for the splitbetween lineages can be calculated. The gibbons (
) and orangutans ( genus
) were the first groupsto split from the line leading to the humans, then gorillas (genus
) followed by the chimpanzees and bonobos(genus
). The splitting date between human and Chimpanzee lineages is placed around 4-8 million years agoduring the late Miocene epoch.

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