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See Human (redirect page) for other meanings of Human.
Fossil occurrence:
Middle Pleistocene [1]present
Figure of a man (left) and woman (right),
detail from Pioneer 11 . gold record
Taxonomic classification
Empire :Animalia (Animals)
tribe :Chordata (Chorda animals)
Class :Mammalia (Mammals)
order :Primates (Primates)
Infraorder :Simiiformes (Monkeys)
family :Hominidae
Gender :Homo
Homo sapiens
Linnaeus , 1758
Distribution area
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Humans ( Homo sapiens ) are intelligent primates characterized by their upright posture and bipedal locomotion, their fine motor skills and use of tools , their complex language use , and sophisticated and highly organized societies . Humans are the only extant representative of the genus Homo and, along with chimpanzees , gorillas, and orangutans , are part of the family Hominidae (humanoids).

Modern humans arose in Africa about 300,000 years ago . The evolutionary success of humans is explained by, among other things, the larger brain with a well-developed prefrontal cortex and temporal lobes , which are necessary for abstract reasoning , language acquisition, problem solving, as well as the development of sociality and culture . [2] [3] Humans use tools more often and more effectively than any other animal: they are the only living beings that control fire , prepare food, clothe themselves and numerous technologies andto create works of art . [4]

Humans use symbolic communication as language and art to express themselves and exchange ideas. The social interactions between people gave rise to divergent values , social norms and rituals , which together formed the basis of societies. [5] The human desire to understand and influence the environment has resulted in science , philosophy , mythology , religion and many other fields of knowledge.

Mankind has been hunter-gatherer for most of its history . About 10,000 years ago, many societies adopted a sedentary lifestyle; humans domesticated plants and animals so that settlements could develop into the first civilizations . Governments, religions and cultures were developed worldwide and people united in states and empires. From the Modern Age , great scientific, technological and cultural developments took place and the world population grew rapidly . Human actions have radically changed the environment in various parts of the world.[6]



The word "man" ( German Mensch , Swedish människa , Danish menneske ) is a variant of "man" (German Mann , English man ), which would eventually go back to an Indo-European root * man- : "to think" or * ma - : "measure". This root is found in Latin mens, mentis : "mind, mind" (compare English mind ), memoria : "memory, remembrance", Greek menos : "mind", mnèmè : "memory", : "think, mind", Russian mnit' "mean, think". The Iranian word for "I" (pronoun) is man . In Old Indian there is also Manu : "(primordial) man", modern Hindi manusha : "man, man". This primordial meaning was given the scientific name Homo sapiens (Latin: "wise" or "wise" man).


The name Homo sapiens was published in 1758 by Carl Linnaeus in the tenth edition of Systema naturae . [7] In publishing the name, Linnaeus mentioned five subspecies or varieties: ferus (the wild man), var. americanus , var . europaeus , var . γ asiaticus and var. δ afer . The distinction between the last four was mainly the color: rufus (red), albus (white/white), luridus (pale yellow) and niger(black). Nowadays it is sometimes opted to speak of the subspecies Homo sapiens sapiens when it comes to humans. This more clearly shows the distinction with the (possible) subspecies Homo sapiens diluvialis (Cro-magnon man) and Homo sapiens idaltu , both extinct.


Evolution and diffusion

See Human Evolution for the main article on this topic.

The genus Homo originated several million years ago in Africa. Together with chimpanzees , the genus Homo forms an evolutionary branch within the Hominidae (hominids) of the order primates . [8] Modern humans, especially the subspecies Homo sapiens sapiens , spread across all the continents and larger islands of the world during a period beginning about 150,000 years ago. About 125,000-60,000 years ago, humans arrived in Eurasia , 40,000 years ago in Australia , and 15,000 years ago in America . More remote islands like Hawaii, Easter Island , Madagascar and New Zealand were settled between the years 300 and 1280. [9] [10]

Present-day biological relatives of humans are chimpanzees and bonobos ( Pan ). [11] Gorillas ( Gorilla ), orangutans ( Pongo ), and gibbons (Hylobatidae) each split off earlier in evolution. Based on genetic information, it is estimated that the common ancestor of humans and chimpanzees lived 4–8 million years ago in the late Miocene . [12] After the division of these groups, chromosome 2 . was formed in the human branchby joining two other chromosomes, leaving only 23 pairs of chromosomes in humans compared to 24 in other monkeys. [13]

The oldest fossils believed to belong to hominins are Sahelanthropus tchadensis (dated at 7 million years), Orrorin tugenensis (5.7 million years), and Ardipithecus kadabba (5.6 million years). About 4 million years ago these species formed a group that included the robust Paranthropus and the more slender Australopithecus . One species in the latter group — possibly Australopithecus garhi that lived 2.5 million years ago — evolved into the direct ancestor of the genus Homo . [14]

One of the first representatives of the genus Homo is Homo habilis , a species that appeared about 2.3 million years ago. H. habilis is considered the first human species for which there is clear evidence of the use of stone tools . [15] However, the brains of H. habilis were not much larger than those of chimpanzees. It was not until the million years that followed that brain volume increased. With the rise of Homo erectus , the cranial capacity had doubled. H. erectus was the first hominin to occur outside of Africa. One population, often classified as the separate speciesHomo ergaster , stayed in Africa and evolved into Homo sapiens . [16]

Anatomical Adjustments

Human evolution includes several morphological , biomechanical , and behavioral changes that occurred after the split between humans and chimpanzees. The most important physical adaptations are bipedalism , an increase in brain volume , longer ontogeny (gestation and infancy), and decreased sexual dimorphism . It is not yet entirely clear how these evolutionary changes are related. Paleoanthropologists have proposed various hypotheses about the order in which they might have occurred and about their importance in the establishment of human uniqueness. [17]

Bipedalism or bipedia is one of the most typical adaptations of the hominins. She is believed to be the cause behind some important changes in the skeletal system common to all bipedal hominids. The first signs of bipedalism were found at Sahelanthropus or Orrorin some six million years ago. [18] Ardipithecus , a later hominini species, was probably already fully bipedal. [19] Walking upright offered several advantages. A bipedal species had its hands free to pick up and carry food, was able to move quickly over long distances (some huntingfavors), and had a way of avoiding overheating by reducing the surface area exposed to direct sunlight. [20]

Compared to other primates, humans have a highly developed brain : the average brain volume is about 1330 cm 3 , more than twice that of a chimpanzee or gorilla. The evolutionary process in which brain size gradually increases is called encephalization . Encephalization started early in the evolution of the genus Homo : Homo habilis had a brain volume of 650 to 800 cm 3 , the later Homo erectus 850 to over 1000 cm 3 , and in Neanderthals it was even 1200 to 1900 cm 3 on average. [21] Particularly the temporal lobe, which contains the centers for language processing, and the prefrontal cortex , which regulates cognitive and emotional functions, are highly developed in humans. [22] The brain development after birth in humans – unlike other hominids – takes many years; young children are able to acquire languages ​​and learn complex social cues for a long time.

The Rise of Homo sapiens

For the main article on this topic, see Early Modern Man .
Migration of modern humans from Africa based on mitochondrial population genetics (numbers in millennia, the North Pole is in the center).

During the early dispersal of Homo sapiens , humans came into contact with several archaic fellows , particularly Homo neanderthaliensis in Eurasia and Homo denisova in Asia. Since the 2010s, evidence has been found to indicate a mixture of genetic information between archaic and modern human species. [23] [24] After two waves of migration from Africa, modern humans spread worldwide, replacing archaic human species, either through competition or hybridization . With the start of the Late Paleolithic(50,000 years ago), but presumably earlier, modernity developed in behaviour : language , music and other cultural universals made their appearance. [25] [26]

About 10,000 years ago, the inhabitants of the Fertile Crescent began domesticating animals and plants, leading to a major lifestyle change: the Neolithic Revolution . [27] [28] With his new lifestyle, man had a major impact on other species and the environment. Although humans remained nomadic in isolated areas where few domesticable plants could grow , permanent settlements arose elsewhere . Increasingly effective farming methods allowed more people to live together in small areas, necessitating more organized forms of society in which the division of labouroccurred.

Cultural developments gave rise to the first civilizations , such as in Egypt , the Indus Valley and Mesopotamia . These civilizations were characterized by the use of writing , social stratification , political or cultural governance , and organized religion . [29] The growth of human knowledge and technology continued steadily, but gained momentum in Europe with the Scientific Revolution and later the Industrial Revolution . [30] From the Modern AgeDue to increased population growth and new technologies, humans have had an increasing influence on the climatic and ecological processes on Earth. Globalization and international cooperation resulted in a fusion of cultures and economies. [31]



See Human anatomy for the main article on this topic.

A person belongs to the vertebrates and has two legs , two arms and a head . The skeleton of man is internal. The cells of the human body are supplied with the right nutrients by a separate system, the circulatory system , which is 'powered' by the heart . The blood is supplied with oxygen via the lungs and other necessary substances via the stomach and intestines . Waste products are removed from the blood through the kidneysalong with water through the bladder, and by removing substances not absorbed by the intestines through the rectum .

From a biological point of view, according to modern understanding, there are no races within the genus Homo sapiens [32] [33] [34] and such divisions are generally considered obsolete in science. The genetic differences within the species are related to climatic adaptations. For example, a white skin color is an advantageous adaptation to the little sunlight in the north, which led to a lack of vitamin D (in the tropics, a light skin is at a disadvantage).


An Indonesian woman with her child in a slendang

People often receive each other from the front during intercourse , which is quite unique in the animal world. Apart from the bonobo and the gorilla [35] , humans are the only primates that do this. Man is viviparous ; usually one baby, after a pregnancy of about 40 weeks (9 months), is born with the back of the head as the front part. Twins and exceptionally multiples also occur. The infant is still very much in need of assistance at birth and is nursed for a number of months to years .

Most other young mammals are less dependent on parents after birth than humans, who can walk only after about a year. At two years old, a child can speak and from that moment on it develops much faster than other animals. The need for assistance at birth probably has to do with the large skull , which would make a longer pregnancy dangerous for mother and child.


During human evolution , the average age of adults [36] fell initially with the transition to agriculture, and then gradually increased, except for periods of war, famine, epidemics and the beginning of the industrial revolution. Around 30,000 years ago, this evolution accelerated greatly. Life expectancy has increased in many places with the improvement of living conditions and health care, especially in the last century. It is estimated that with the best biological constitution and most favorable living conditions, the maximum attainable age is about 120 years. [37] The longest-living person about whom there is reliable documentation is Jeanne-Louise Calmentwho lived 122 years and 5 months.

Social structures

Humans, like most other primates , are social in nature. They are particularly adept at using communication tools for self-expression, exchange of ideas and organization. Humans create complex social structures made up of numerous collaborating and competing groups, ranging from families to nations . What makes the society of people unique is that the importance of kinship plays a much less dominant role. People largely live together on an unrelated basis, which allows an individual to belong to different groups, and to take on a different role within each group. [38]

The social interactions between people have created a wide variety of traditions , rituals , ethics , norms, values , and laws , which together form the basis of human society .

Consciousness and intelligence

See Consciousness and Intelligence for the main articles on this topic.

The human brain is very well developed, with which it is capable of abstract thought , language , introspection , problem solving and emotion . Thanks to its intelligence and upright posture, which frees the arms to pick up and work objects, humans are much more capable of using tools than other species . Man himself is seen as the most intelligent life form on earth . However, animal cognition is not limited to humans, but has also been established in mammals such as elephants andcetaceans such as dolphins and killer whales . Whether these have a similar self-awareness and sense of time as humans do is an open question. Humans, like other species, are prone to physical illnesses such as cancer and mental disorders such as phobias , depression , and the like.


Humans are originally omnivorous . Initially, the primitive people sought their food as hunters and gatherers. Food was fruits , seeds, roots, leaves and honey, in addition to the relatively scarce meat or fish and other animal products such as eggs. Agriculture led to new products, the development of cities and the trade in foodstuffs, which changed the food pattern.

In the twentieth century, the food pattern in many countries has changed significantly, after food production was industrialized and food became cheaper in many countries. In particular, this led to a higher intake of carbohydrates and proteins.


Humanity is a collective term for all people in the world. Man is able to think about himself and to put himself in the shoes of others. Humanity can also develop technologies and think about and find solutions to economic and scientific issues. More than any other animal species , humans are capable of changing their living environment , for the better of themselves, but certainly also for the worse. Man controls the course of the water with dams and dikes , and with the construction of houses, which are often found together in large numbers and thus form villages or towns , people know how to protect themselves against the climate . Agriculture allows people to control food production . Medicine enables people to overcome serious illnesses . A disease like smallpox has been eradicated by vaccination .


People have a culture that can be recognized by appearance , administration , traditions , customs , language , religion , wealth and eating habits . Cultures generally vary by region , although several cultures also coexist. A culture can contain a number of subcultures , each of which has its own customs, etc. Some cultures clash because of incompatible ideas. Many wars have their origin in the difference between some cultures. In some cases, this has even led togenocide .


Humans have developed languages ​​that allow one to communicate with others . Most languages ​​have a corresponding script , with which information can be noted and then stored or passed on to others. Through technological developments in the twentieth century in the field of telecommunications , humans are able to communicate with other people worldwide.


Many people have a belief in a force or power that is beyond human understanding. This belief can be experienced in an organized context, such as within Christianity , Islam , Hinduism or Buddhism . A belief can arise from a personal belief. This belief gives them rules of conduct and moral convictions and can support them in incomprehensible events. Faith can also help to find meaning in life.


Partly due to the development of technology, the human population is very large. Around November 2011 , there were about 7 billion people living on Earth. This has adverse consequences for nature and for the Earth . Natural areas are making way for agricultural areas, cities, roads and other human structures. Air, soil and water are becoming polluted and plant and animal species are threatened with extinction. Other species actually benefit from humans. Culture followers such as the brown rat , house mouse , house sparrow and city pigeon and domestic and domestic animals such as dogs ,Cat , cattle and chicken have spread over the earth partly thanks to humans.


It used to be said that there were races within humanity , which was considered a biological fact. Race theory is now seen as an outdated ideology. Within the genus Homo sapiens , there are no races biologically. The names given by Johann Friedrich Blumenbach were: Caucasian , Mongolian , American , Ethiopian and Malaysian race .

Man's ancestors and ancient relatives

Man's ancestors and ancient relatives
Preventing fossilsSexTypes
7 - 4.4 MaSahelanthropusSahelanthropus tchadensis
Orrorin Orrorin tugenensis
ArdipithecusArdipithecus ramidus Ardipithecus kadabba
4.3 - 2 MaAustralopithecusA. anamensis A. afarensis A. bahrelghazali A. africanus A. garhi A. sediba
3.5 MaKenyanthropus Kenyanthropus platyops
2.5 - 1 MaparanthropusP. aethiopicus P. boisei P. robustus
to the presentHomoH. antecessor H. cepranensis H. denisova Homo erectus ( Java man Peking man ) H. ergaster H. floresiensis H. gautengensis H. georgicus H. habilis H. heidelbergensis H. helmei H. neanderthalensis H. rhodesiensis H. rudolfensis Homo sapiens ( H. s. idaltu Cro -magnon man Red Deer Cave people )

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