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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Fossil range: 2.5–0.0 Ma
Homo habilis, the earliest member of the genus
Scientific classification
Domain: Eukarya
Kingdom: Animalia
Subkingdom: Eumetazoa
(unranked): Bilateria
Phylum: Chordata
(unranked) Craniata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Infraphylum: Gnathostomata
Superclass: Tetrapoda
(unranked) Amniota
Class: Mammalia
Subclass: Theria
Infraclass: Eutheria
Superorder: Euarchontoglires
Order: Primates
Suborder: Haplorrhini
Infraorder: Simiiformes
Parvorder: Catarrhini
Superfamily: Hominoidea
Family: Hominidae
Subfamily: Homininae
Tribe: Hominini
Subtribe: Hominina
Genus: Homo
Linnaeus, 1758

Homo is the genus that includes modern humans and species closely related to them. The genus is estimated to be about 2.5 million years old, evolving from Australopithecine ancestors with the appearance of Homo habilis. The advent of Homo coincides with the first evidence of stone tools (the Oldowan industry), and thus by definition with the beginning of the Lower Paleolithic.

All species of the genus except Homo sapiens (modern humans) are extinct. Homo neanderthalensis, traditionally considered the last surviving relative, died out 24,000 years ago, while a recent discovery suggests that another species, Homo floresiensis, discovered in 2003, may have lived as recently as 12,000 years ago.

Given the large number of morphological similarities exhibited, Homo is closely related to several extinct hominin genera, most notably Kenyanthropus, Paranthropus, Ardipithecus and Australopithecus. As of 2009, none of these taxa is universally accepted as the confirmed direct ancestor of Homo.



The word homo is Latin, in the original sense of "human being", or "person". The word "human" itself is from Latin humanus, an adjective cognate to homo, both thought to derive from a Proto-Indo-European word reconstructed as*dhǵhem- "earth".[1] Cf. Hebrew adam, meaning "human", cognate to adamah, meaning "ground". (And cf. Latin humus, meaning "soil"; and Slavic земля meaning "land, earth"; and Sanskrit Bhumi meaning "Earth".)


Species status of Homo rudolfensis, H. ergaster, H. georgicus, H. antecessor, H. cepranensis, H. rhodesiensis and H. floresiensis remains under debate. H. heidelbergensis and H. neanderthalensis are closely related to each other and have been considered to be subspecies of H. sapiens. Recently nuclear DNA from a Neanderthal specimen from Vindija has been sequenced as well, using two different methods that yield similar results regarding Neanderthal and H. Sapien lineage. Nuclear DNA suggest a similar date for the split between Neanderthals and H. Sapiens of between 460,000 and 700,000 years, with an inferred population split of around 370,000 years ago. The nuclear DNA results indicate that about 30% of derived alleles are in the Neanderthal lineage. This high frequency may suggest some gene flow between modern humans and Neanderthal populations.[2]

Comparative table of Homo species
Species Lived when (Ma) Lived where Adult height Adult mass Brain volume (cm³) Fossil record Discovery / publication of name
H. rudolfensis 1.9 Kenya 1 skull 1972/1986
H. ergaster 1.9 – 1.4 Eastern and Southern Africa 1.9 m (6.2 ft) 700–850 Many 1975
H. habilis 1.7? – 1.4 Africa 1.0–1.5 m (3.3–4.9 ft) 33–55 kg (73–120 lb) 660 Many 1960/1964
H. georgicus 1.8 Georgia 600 4 individuals 1999/2002
H. erectus 1.5 – 0.2 Africa, Eurasia (Java, China, India, Caucasus) 1.8 m (5.9 ft) 60 kg (130 lb) 850 (early) – 1,100 (late) Many 1891/1892
H. antecessor 1.2 – 0.8 Spain 1.75 m (5.7 ft) 90 kg (200 lb) 1,000 2 sites 1997
H. cepranensis 0.9 – 0.8? Italy 1,000 1 skull cap 1994/2003
H. heidelbergensis 0.6 – 0.35 Europe, Africa, China 1.8 m (5.9 ft) 60 kg (130 lb) 1,100–1,400 Many 1908
H. neanderthalensis 0.35 – 0.03 Europe, Western Asia 1.6 m (5.2 ft) 55–70 kg (120–150 lb) (heavily built) 1,200–1,900 Many (1829)/1864
H. rhodesiensis 0.3 – 0.12 Zambia 1,300 Very few 1921
H. sapiens sapiens 0.2 – present Worldwide 1.4–1.9 m (4.6–6.2 ft) 50–100 kg (110–220 lb) 1,000–1,850 Still living —/1758
H. sapiens idaltu 0.16 – 0.15 Ethiopia 1,450 3 craniums 1997/2003
H. floresiensis 0.10? – 0.012 Indonesia 1.0 m (3.3 ft) 25 kg (55 lb) 400 7 individuals 2003/2004
Extant Hominoid family tree

See also


  1. ^ dhghem The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language: Fourth Edition. 2000.
  2. ^ Biological Anthropology: 2nd Edition. 2009. Craig Stanford et al.

External links

Simple English

Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Primates
Family: Hominidae
Subfamily: Homininae
Genus: Homo
Linnaeus, 1758

Homo is the genus is separated from the earlier hominids because of the emergence of tool use, language and culture.

The genus begins about 2.3 million years ago. The characteristics of these species are bigger brain (above 1000ml), the forehead rises straight up, the skull becomes rounder, the teeth are reduced, arms are shorter and legs are longer, and the skeleton becomes more delicate.



Look up Homo in Wikispecies, a directory of species

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