Fossil range: 0.2–0 Ma Pleistocene - Recent
|Human male and female|
|Homo sapiens sapiens
Humans commonly refers to the species Homo sapiens (Latin: "wise man" or "knowing man"), the only extant member of the Homo genus of bipedal primates in Hominidae, the great ape family. However, in some cases the term is used to refer to any member of the genus Homo.
Humans have a highly developed brain, capable of abstract reasoning, language, introspection, and problem solving. This mental capability, combined with an erect body carriage that frees the hands for manipulating objects, has allowed humans to make far greater use of tools than any other species. Mitochondrial DNA and fossil evidence indicates that modern humans originated in Africa about 200,000 years ago. Humans are a cosmopolitan species; widespread in every continent except Antarctica, with a total population of 6.8 billion as of November 2009.
Like most higher primates, humans are social by nature. However, humans are uniquely adept at utilizing systems of communication for self-expression, the exchange of ideas, and organization. Humans create complex social structures composed of many cooperating and competing groups, from families to nations. Social interactions between humans have established an extremely wide variety of values, social norms, and rituals, which together form the basis of human society.
Humans are noted for their desire to understand and influence their environment, seeking to explain and manipulate natural phenomena through science, philosophy, mythology and religion. This natural curiosity has led to the development of advanced tools and skills, which are passed down culturally; humans are the only species known to build fires, cook their food, clothe themselves, and use numerous other technologies.
The English adjective human is a Middle English loan from Old French humain, ultimately from Latin hūmānus, the adjective of homō "man". Use as a noun (with a plural humans) dates to the 16th century. The native English term man is now often reserved for male adults, but can still be used for "mankind" in general in Modern English. The word is from Proto-Germanic *mannaz, from a Proto-Indo-European(PIE) root *man-, cognate to Sanskrit manu-.
The generic name Homo is a learned 18th century derivation from Latin homō "man", ultimately "earthly being" (Old Latin hemō, cognate to Old English guma "man", from PIE *dʰǵʰemon-, meaning 'earth' or 'ground').
The scientific study of human evolution encompasses the development of the genus Homo, but usually involves studying other hominids and hominines as well, such as Australopithecus. "Modern humans" are defined as the Homo sapiens species, of which the only extant subspecies is known as Homo sapiens sapiens. Homo sapiens idaltu (roughly translated as "elder wise human"), the other known subspecies, is now extinct. Homo neanderthalensis, which became extinct 30,000 years ago, has sometimes been classified as a subspecies, "Homo sapiens neanderthalensis", but genetic studies now suggest a divergence of the Neanderthal species from Homo sapiens about 500,000 years ago. Similarly, the few specimens of Homo rhodesiensis have also occasionally been classified as a subspecies, but this is not widely accepted. Anatomically modern humans first appear in the fossil record in Africa about 195,000 years ago, and studies of molecular biology give evidence that the approximate time of divergence from the common ancestor of all modern human populations was 200,000 years ago. The broad study of African genetic diversity headed by Dr. Sarah Tishkoff found the San people to express the greatest genetic diversity among the 113 distinct populations sampled, making them one of 14 "ancestral population clusters". The research also located the origin of modern human migration in south-western Africa, near the coastal border of Namibia and Angola.
The closest living relatives of humans are gorillas and chimpanzees, but humans did not evolve from these apes: instead these apes share a common ancestor with modern humans. Humans are probably most closely related to two chimpanzee species: Common Chimpanzee and Bonobo. Full genome sequencing has resulted in the conclusion that "after 6.5 [million] years of separate evolution, the differences between chimpanzee and human are ten times greater than those between two unrelated people and ten times less than those between rats and mice". Suggested concurrence between human and chimpanzee DNA sequences range between 95% and 99%. It has been estimated that the human lineage diverged from that of chimpanzees about five million years ago, and from that of gorillas about eight million years ago. However, a hominid skull discovered in Chad in 2001, classified as Sahelanthropus tchadensis, is approximately seven million years old, which may indicate an earlier divergence.
Human evolution is characterized by a number of important morphological, developmental, physiological and behavioural changes, which have taken place since the split between the last common ancestor of humans and chimpanzees. The first major morphological change was the evolution of a bipedal locomotor adaptation from an arboreal or semi-arboreal one, with all its attendant adaptations, such as a valgus knee, low intermembral index (long legs relative to the arms), and reduced upper-body strength.
Later, ancestral humans developed a much larger brain – typically 1,400 cm³ in modern humans, over twice the size of that of a chimpanzee or gorilla. The pattern of human postnatal brain growth differs from that of other apes (heterochrony), and allows for extended periods of social learning and language acquisition in juvenile humans. Physical anthropologists argue that the differences between the structure of human brains and those of other apes are even more significant than their differences in size.
Other significant morphological changes included: the evolution of a power and precision grip; a reduced masticatory system; a reduction of the canine tooth; and the descent of the larynx and hyoid bone, making speech possible. An important physiological change in humans was the evolution of hidden oestrus, or concealed ovulation, which may have coincided with the evolution of important behavioural changes, such as pair bonding. Another significant behavioural change was the development of material culture, with human-made objects becoming increasingly common and diversified over time. The relationship between all these changes is the subject of ongoing debate.
Anatomically modern humans evolved from archaic Homo sapiens in Africa in the Middle Paleolithic, about 200,000 years ago. By the beginning of the Upper Paleolithic 50,000 BP (Before Present), full behavioral modernity, including language, music and other cultural universals had developed.
The broad study of African genetic diversity headed by Dr. Sarah Tishkoff found the San people to express the greatest genetic diversity among the 113 distinct populations sampled, making them one of 14 "ancestral population clusters". The research also located the origin of modern human migration in south-western Africa, near the coastal border of Namibia and Angola.
The out of Africa migration is estimated to have occurred about 70,000 years BP. Modern humans subsequently spread to all continents, replacing earlier hominids: they inhabited Eurasia and Oceania by 40,000 BP, and the Americas at least 14,500 years BP. They displaced Homo neanderthalensis and other species descended from Homo erectus (which had inhabited Eurasia as early as 2 million years ago) through more successful reproduction and competition for resources.
Evidence from archaeogenetics accumulating since the 1990s has lent strong support to the "out-of-Africa" scenario, and has marginalized the competing multiregional hypothesis, which proposed that modern humans evolved, at least in part, from independent hominid populations.
Geneticists Lynn Jorde and Henry Harpending of the University of Utah propose that the variation in human DNA is minute compared to that of other species. They also propose that during the Late Pleistocene, the human population was reduced to a small number of breeding pairs – no more than 10,000, and possibly as few as 1,000 – resulting in a very small residual gene pool. Various reasons for this hypothetical bottleneck have been postulated, one being the Toba catastrophe theory.
Until c. 10,000 years ago, most humans lived as hunter-gatherers. They generally lived in small nomadic groups known as band societies. The advent of agriculture prompted the Neolithic Revolution, when access to food surplus led to the formation of permanent human settlements, the domestication of animals and the use of metal tools. Agriculture encouraged trade and cooperation, and led to complex society. Because of the significance of this date for human society, it is the epoch of the Holocene calendar or Human Era.
About 6,000 years ago, the first proto-states developed in Mesopotamia, Egypt's Nile Valley and the Indus Valleys. Military forces were formed for protection, and government bureaucracies for administration. States cooperated and competed for resources, in some cases waging wars. Around 2,000–3,000 years ago, some states, such as Persia, India, China, Rome, and Greece, developed through conquest into the first expansive empires. Influential religions, such as Judaism, originating in the Middle East, and Hinduism, a religious tradition that originated in South Asia, also rose to prominence at this time.
The late Middle Ages saw the rise of revolutionary ideas and technologies. In China, an advanced and urbanized society promoted innovations and sciences, such as printing and seed drilling. In India, major advancements were made in mathematics, philosophy, religion and metallurgy. The Islamic Golden Age saw major scientific advancements in Muslim empires. In Europe, the rediscovery of classical learning and inventions such as the printing press led to the Renaissance in the 15th and 16th centuries. Over the next 500 years, exploration and colonialism brought much of the Americas, Asia, and Africa under European control, leading to later struggles for independence. The Scientific Revolution in the 17th century and the Industrial Revolution in the 18th–19th centuries promoted major innovations in transport, such as the railway and automobile; energy development, such as coal and electricity; and government, such as representative democracy and Communism.
With the advent of the Information Age at the end of the 20th century, modern humans live in a world that has become increasingly globalized and interconnected. As of 2008, over 1.4 billion humans are connected to each other via the Internet, and 3.3 billion by mobile phone subscriptions.
Although interconnection between humans has encouraged the growth of science, art, discussion, and technology, it has also led to culture clashes and the development and use of weapons of mass destruction. Human civilization has led to environmental destruction and pollution, producing an ongoing mass extinction of other forms of life called the holocene extinction event, that may be further accelerated by global warming in the future.
Early human settlements, were dependent on proximity to water and, depending on the lifestyle, other natural resources, such as arable land for growing crops and grazing livestock, or seasonally by hunting populations of prey. However, humans have a great capacity for altering their habitats by various methods, such as through irrigation, urban planning, construction, transport, manufacturing goods, deforestation and desertification. Deliberate habitat alteration is often done with the goals of increasing material wealth, increasing thermal comfort, improving the amount of food available, improving aesthetics, or improving ease of access to resources or other human settlements. With the advent of large-scale trade and transport infrastructure, proximity to these resources has become unnecessary, and in many places, these factors are no longer a driving force behind the growth and decline of a population. Nonetheless, the manner in which a habitat is altered is often a major determinant in population change.
Technology has allowed humans to colonize all of the continents and adapt to virtually all climates. Within the last century, humans have explored Antarctica, the ocean depths, and outer space, although large-scale colonization of these environments is not yet feasible. With a population of over six billion, humans are among the most numerous of the large mammals. Most humans (61%) live in Asia. The remainder live in the Americas (14%), Africa (14%), Europe (11%), and Oceania (0.5%).
Human habitation within closed ecological systems in hostile environments, such as Antarctica and outer space, is expensive, typically limited in duration, and restricted to scientific, military, or industrial expeditions. Life in space has been very sporadic, with no more than thirteen humans in space at any given time. Between 1969 and 1972, two humans at a time spent brief intervals on the Moon. As of March 2010, no other celestial body has been visited by humans, although there has been a continuous human presence in space since the launch of the initial crew to inhabit the International Space Station on October 31, 2000. However, other celestial bodies have been visited by human-made objects.
Since 1800, the human population has increased from one billion to over six billion. In 2004, some 2.5 billion out of 6.3 billion people (39.7%) lived in urban areas, and this percentage is expected to continue to rise throughout the 21st century. In February 2008, the U.N. estimated that half the world's population will live in urban areas by the end of the year. Problems for humans living in cities include various forms of pollution and crime, especially in inner city and suburban slums.
Humans have had a dramatic effect on the environment. As humans are rarely preyed upon, they have been described as superpredators. Currently, through land development, combustion of fossil fuels and pollution, humans are thought to be the main contributor to global climate change. Human activity is believed to be a major contributor to the ongoing Holocene extinction event, which is a form of mass extinction. If this continues at its current rate it is predicted that it will wipe out half of all species over the next century.
Human body types vary substantially. Although body size is largely determined by genes, it is also significantly influenced by environmental factors such as diet and exercise. The average height of an adult human is about 1.5 to 1.8 m (5 to 6 feet) tall, although this varies significantly from place to place. The average mass of an adult human is 54–64 kg (120–140 lbs) for females and 76–83 kg (168–183 lbs) for males. Weight can also vary greatly (e.g. obesity). Unlike most other primates, humans are capable of fully bipedal locomotion, thus leaving their arms available for manipulating objects using their hands, aided especially by opposable thumbs.
Although humans appear hairless compared to other primates, with notable hair growth occurring chiefly on the top of the head, underarms and pubic area, the average human has more hair follicles on his or her body than the average chimpanzee. The main distinction is that human hairs are shorter, finer, and less heavily pigmented than the average chimpanzee's, thus making them harder to see.
The hue of human skin and hair is determined by the presence of pigments called melanins. Human skin hues can range from very dark brown to very pale pink. Human hair ranges from white to brown to red to most commonly black. This depends on the amount of melanin (an effective sun blocking pigment) in the skin and hair, with hair melanin concentrations in hair fading with increased age, leading to grey or even white hair. Most researchers believe that skin darkening was an adaptation that evolved as a protection against ultraviolet solar radiation. However, more recently it has been argued that particular skin colors are an adaptation to balance folate, which is destroyed by ultraviolet radiation, and vitamin D, which requires sunlight to form. The skin pigmentation of contemporary humans is geographically stratified, and in general correlates with the level of ultraviolet radiation. Human skin also has a capacity to darken (sun tanning) in response to exposure to ultraviolet radiation. Humans tend to be physically weaker than other similarly sized primates, with young, conditioned male humans having been shown to be unable to match the strength of female orangutans which are at least three times stronger.
Constituents of the human body
In a person weighing 60 kg
|Constituent||Weight||Percentage of atoms|
Humans have proportionately shorter palates and much smaller teeth than other primates. They are the only primates to have short, relatively flush canine teeth. Humans have characteristically crowded teeth, with gaps from lost teeth usually closing up quickly in young specimens. Humans are gradually losing their wisdom teeth, with some individuals having them congenitally absent.
Human physiology is the science of the mechanical, physical, and biochemical functions of humans in good health, their organs, and the cells of which they are composed. The principal level of focus of physiology is at the level of organs and systems. Most aspects of human physiology are closely homologous to corresponding aspects of animal physiology, and animal experimentation has provided much of the foundation of physiological knowledge. Anatomy and physiology are closely related fields of study: anatomy, the study of form, and physiology, the study of function, are intrinsically tied and are studied in tandem as part of a medical curriculum.
Humans are a eukaryotic species. Each diploid cell has two sets of 23 chromosomes, each set received from one parent. There are 22 pairs of autosomes and one pair of sex chromosomes. By present estimates, humans have approximately 20,000–25,000 genes. Like other mammals, humans have an XY sex-determination system, so that females have the sex chromosomes XX and males have XY. The X chromosome carries many genes not on the Y chromosome, which means that recessive diseases associated with X-linked genes, such as haemophilia, affect men more often than women.
The human life cycle is similar to that of other placental mammals. The zygote divides inside the female's uterus to become an embryo, which over a period of thirty-eight weeks (9 months) of gestation becomes a human fetus. After this span of time, the fully grown fetus is birthed from the woman's body and breathes independently as an infant for the first time. At this point, most modern cultures recognize the baby as a person entitled to the full protection of the law, though some jurisdictions extend various levels of personhood earlier to human fetuses while they remain in the uterus.
Compared with other species, human childbirth is dangerous. Painful labors lasting twenty-four hours or more are not uncommon and sometimes leads to the death of the mother, or the child. This is because of both the relatively large fetal head circumference (for housing the brain) and the mother's relatively narrow pelvis (a trait required for successful bipedalism, by way of natural selection). The chances of a successful labor increased significantly during the 20th century in wealthier countries with the advent of new medical technologies. In contrast, pregnancy and natural childbirth remain hazardous ordeals in developing regions of the world, with maternal death rates approximately 100 times more common than in developed countries.
In developed countries, infants are typically 3–4 kg (6–9 pounds) in weight and 50–60 cm (20–24 inches) in height at birth. However, low birth weight is common in developing countries, and contributes to the high levels of infant mortality in these regions. Helpless at birth, humans continue to grow for some years, typically reaching sexual maturity at 12 to 15 years of age. Females continue to develop physically until around the age of 18, whereas male development continues until around age 21. The human life span can be split into a number of stages: infancy, childhood, adolescence, young adulthood, adulthood and old age. The lengths of these stages, however, have varied across cultures and time periods. Compared to other primates, humans experience an unusually rapid growth spurt during adolescence, where the body grows 25% in size. Chimpanzees, for example, grow only 14%, with no pronounced spurt. The presence of the growth spurt is probably necessary to keep children physically small until they are psychologically mature. Humans are one of the few species in which females undergo menopause. It has been proposed that menopause increases a woman's overall reproductive success by allowing her to invest more time and resources in her existing offspring and/or their children (the grandmother hypothesis), rather than by continuing to bear children into old age.
There are significant differences in life expectancy around the world. The developed world is generally aging, with the median age around 40 years (highest in Monaco at 45.1 years). In the developing world the median age is between 15 and 20 years. Life expectancy at birth in Hong Kong is 84.8 years for a female and 78.9 for a male, while in Swaziland, primarily because of AIDS, it is 31.3 years for both sexes. While one in five Europeans is 60 years of age or older, only one in twenty Africans is 60 years of age or older. The number of centenarians (humans of age 100 years or older) in the world was estimated by the United Nations at 210,000 in 2002. At least one person, Jeanne Calment, is known to have reached the age of 122 years; higher ages have been claimed but they are not well substantiated. Worldwide, there are 81 men aged 60 or older for every 100 women of that age group, and among the oldest, there are 53 men for every 100 women.
Girl (before puberty)
Woman of reproductive age
Older woman (after menopause)
Boy (before puberty)
Middle aged man
Humans are omnivorous, capable of consuming both plant and animal products. Varying with available food sources in regions of habitation, and also varying with cultural and religious norms, human groups have adopted a range of diets, from purely vegetarian to primarily carnivorous. In some cases, dietary restrictions in humans can lead to deficiency diseases; however, stable human groups have adapted to many dietary patterns through both genetic specialization and cultural conventions to utilize nutritionally balanced food sources. The human diet is prominently reflected in human culture, and has led to the development of food science.
Until the development of agriculture approximately 10,000 years ago, Homo sapiens employed a hunter-gatherer method as their sole means of food collection. This involved combining stationary food sources (such as fruits, grains, tubers, and mushrooms, insect larvae and aquatic molluscs) with wild game, which must be hunted and killed in order to be consumed. It has been proposed that humans have used fire to prepare and cook food since the time of their divergence from Homo erectus. Around ten thousand years ago, humans developed agriculture, which substantially altered their diet. This change in diet may also have altered human biology; with the spread of dairy farming providing a new and rich source of food, leading to the evolution of the ability to digest lactose in some adults. Agriculture led to increased populations, the development of cities, and because of increased population density, the wider spread of infectious diseases. The types of food consumed, and the way in which they are prepared, has varied widely by time, location, and culture.
In general, humans can survive for two to eight weeks without food, depending on stored body fat. Survival without water is usually limited to three or four days. Lack of food remains a serious problem, with about 36 million humans starving to death every year. Childhood malnutrition is also common and contributes to the global burden of disease. However global food distribution is not even, and obesity among some human populations has increased rapidly, leading to health complications and increased mortality in some developed, and a few developing countries. Worldwide over one billion people are obese, while in the United States 35% of people are obese, leading to this being described as an "obesity epidemic". Obesity is caused by consuming more calories than are expended, so excessive weight gain is usually caused by a combination of an energy-dense high fat diet and insufficient exercise.
Humans are generally diurnal. The average sleep requirement is between seven and nine continuous hours a day for an adult and nine to ten hours for a child; elderly people usually sleep for six to seven hours. Experiencing less sleep than this is common in modern societies; this sleep deprivation can have negative effects. A sustained restriction of adult sleep to four hours per day has been shown to correlate with changes in physiology and mental state, including fatigue, aggression, and bodily discomfort.
The human brain, the focal point of the central nervous system in humans, controls the peripheral nervous system. In addition to controlling "lower", involuntary, or primarily autonomic activities such as respiration and digestion, it is also the locus of "higher" order functioning such as thought, reasoning, and abstraction. These cognitive processes constitute the mind, and, along with their behavioral consequences, are studied in the field of psychology.
Generally regarded as more capable of these higher order activities, the human brain is believed to be more "intelligent" in general than that of any other known species. Some are capable of creating structures and using simple tools—mostly through instinct and mimicry—human technology is vastly more complex, and is constantly evolving and improving through time.
Although being vastly more advanced than many species in cognitive abilities, most of these abilities are known in primitive form among other species. Modern anthropology has tended to bear out Darwin's proposition that "the difference in mind between man and the higher animals, great as it is, certainly is one of degree and not of kind".
Humans are one of only nine species to pass the mirror test—which tests whether an animal recognizes its reflection as an image of itself—along with all the great apes (gorillas, chimpanzees, orangutans, bonobos), Bottlenose dolphins, Asian elephants, European Magpies and Orcas. Most human children will pass the mirror test at 18 months old. However, the usefulness of this test as a true test of consciousness has been disputed, and this may be a matter of degree rather than a sharp divide. Monkeys have been trained to apply abstract rules in tasks.
The human brain perceives the external world through the senses, and each individual human is influenced greatly by his or her experiences, leading to subjective views of existence and the passage of time. Humans are variously said to possess consciousness, self-awareness, and a mind, which correspond roughly to the mental processes of thought. These are said to possess qualities such as self-awareness, sentience, sapience, and the ability to perceive the relationship between oneself and one's environment. The extent to which the mind constructs or experiences the outer world is a matter of debate, as are the definitions and validity of many of the terms used above. The philosopher of cognitive science Daniel Dennett, for example, argues that there is no such thing as a narrative centre called the "mind", but that instead there is simply a collection of sensory inputs and outputs: different kinds of "software" running in parallel. Psychologist B.F. Skinner argued that the mind is an explanatory fiction that diverts attention from environmental causes of behavior, and that what are commonly seen as mental processes may be better conceived of as forms of covert verbal behavior.
Humans study the more physical aspects of the mind and brain, and by extension of the nervous system, in the field of neurology, the more behavioral in the field of psychology, and a sometimes loosely defined area between in the field of psychiatry, which treats mental illness and behavioral disorders. Psychology does not necessarily refer to the brain or nervous system, and can be framed purely in terms of phenomenological or information processing theories of the mind. Increasingly, however, an understanding of brain functions is being included in psychological theory and practice, particularly in areas such as artificial intelligence, neuropsychology, and cognitive neuroscience.
The nature of thought is central to psychology and related fields. Cognitive psychology studies cognition, the mental processes' underlying behavior. It uses information processing as a framework for understanding the mind. Perception, learning, problem solving, memory, attention, language and emotion are all well researched areas as well. Cognitive psychology is associated with a school of thought known as cognitivism, whose adherents argue for an information processing model of mental function, informed by positivism and experimental psychology. Techniques and models from cognitive psychology are widely applied and form the mainstay of psychological theories in many areas of both research and applied psychology. Largely focusing on the development of the human mind through the life span, developmental psychology seeks to understand how people come to perceive, understand, and act within the world and how these processes change as they age. This may focus on intellectual, cognitive, neural, social, or moral development.
Some philosophers divide consciousness into phenomenal consciousness, which is experience itself, and access consciousness, which is the processing of the things in experience. Phenomenal consciousness is the state of being conscious, such as when they say "I am conscious." Access consciousness is being conscious of something in relation to abstract concepts, such as when one says "I am conscious of these words." Various forms of access consciousness include awareness, self-awareness, conscience, stream of consciousness, Husserl's phenomenology, and intentionality. The concept of phenomenal consciousness, in modern history, according to some, is closely related to the concept of qualia. Social psychology links sociology with psychology in their shared study of the nature and causes of human social interaction, with an emphasis on how people think towards each other and how they relate to each other. The behavior and mental processes, both human and non-human, can be described through animal cognition, ethology, evolutionary psychology, and comparative psychology as well. Human ecology is an academic discipline that investigates how humans and human societies interact with both their natural environment and the human social environment.
Motivation is the driving force of desire behind all deliberate actions of humans. Motivation is based on emotion—specifically, on the search for satisfaction (positive emotional experiences), and the avoidance of conflict. Positive and negative is defined by the individual brain state, which may be influenced by social norms: a person may be driven to self-injury or violence because their brain is conditioned to create a positive response to these actions. Motivation is important because it is involved in the performance of all learned responses. Within psychology, conflict avoidance and the libido are seen to be primary motivators. Within economics, motivation is often seen to be based on incentives; these may be financial, moral, or coercive. Religions generally posit divine or demonic influences.
Happiness, or the state of being happy, is a human emotional condition. The definition of happiness is a common philosophical topic. Some people might define it as the best condition that a human can have—a condition of mental and physical health. Others define it as freedom from want and distress; consciousness of the good order of things; assurance of one's place in the universe or society.
Emotion has a significant influence on, or can even be said to control, human behavior, though historically many cultures and philosophers have for various reasons discouraged allowing this influence to go unchecked. Emotional experiences perceived as pleasant, such as love, admiration, or joy, contrast with those perceived as unpleasant, like hate, envy, or sorrow. There is often a distinction made between refined emotions that are socially learned and survival oriented emotions, which are thought to be innate. Human exploration of emotions as separate from other neurological phenomena is worthy of note, particularly in cultures where emotion is considered separate from physiological state. In some cultural medical theories emotion is considered so synonymous with certain forms of physical health that no difference is thought to exist. The Stoics believed excessive emotion was harmful, while some Sufi teachers felt certain extreme emotions could yield a conceptual perfection, what is often translated as ecstasy.
In modern scientific thought, certain refined emotions are considered a complex neural trait innate in a variety of domesticated and non-domesticated mammals. These were commonly developed in reaction to superior survival mechanisms and intelligent interaction with each other and the environment; as such, refined emotion is not in all cases as discrete and separate from natural neural function as was once assumed. However, when humans function in civilized tandem, it has been noted that uninhibited acting on extreme emotion can lead to social disorder and crime.
Human sexuality, besides ensuring biological reproduction, has important social functions: it creates physical intimacy, bonds, and hierarchies among individuals; may be directed to spiritual transcendence (according to some traditions); and in a hedonistic sense to the enjoyment of activity involving sexual gratification. Sexual desire, or libido, is experienced as a bodily urge, often accompanied by strong emotions such as love, ecstasy and jealousy. The extreme importance of sexuality in the human species can be seen in a number of physical features, among them hidden ovulation, the evolution of external scrotum and penis suggesting sperm competition, the absence of an os penis, permanent secondary sexual characteristics, the forming of pair bonds based on sexual attraction as a common social structure and sexual ability in females outside of ovulation. These adaptations indicate that the importance of sexuality in humans is on a par with that found in the Bonobo, and that the complex human sexual behaviour has a long evolutionary history.
Human choices in acting on sexuality are commonly influenced by cultural norms, which vary widely. Restrictions are often determined by religious beliefs or social customs. The pioneering researcher Sigmund Freud believed that humans are born polymorphously perverse, which means that any number of objects could be a source of pleasure. According to Freud, humans then pass through five stages of psychosexual development (and can fixate on any stage because of various traumas during the process). For Alfred Kinsey, another influential sex researcher, people can fall anywhere along a continuous scale of sexual orientation (with only small minorities fully heterosexual or homosexual). Recent studies of neurology and genetics suggest people may be born with a predisposition to one sexual orientation or another.
|Human society statistics|
|World population||6.8 billion (November 20, 2009 estimate)|
|Population density||12.7 per km² (4.9 mi²) by total area
43.6 per km² (16.8 mi²) by land area
|Largest agglomerations||Tokyo, Mumbai, Seoul, Delhi, Mexico City, New York City, Lagos, Jakarta, São Paulo, Osaka-Kobe-Kyoto, Shanghai, Manila, Hong Kong-Shenzhen, Los Angeles, Kolkata, Tehran, Moscow, Cairo, Chicago, Buenos Aires, Paris, London, Taipei, Beijing, Karachi, Dhaka
|Languages with over 100 million speakers||Mandarin: 1120 million
English: 1000 million
Spanish: 500 million
Hindi: 490 million
Arabic: 255 million
Russian: 254 million
Portuguese: 218 million
Bengali: 215 million
Indonesian: 230 million
Malay: 176 million
French: 130 million
Japanese: 127 million
German: 123 million
Persian: 110 million
Urdu: 104 million
Punjabi: 103 million
|GDP (nominal)||$36,356,240 million USD
($5,797 USD per capita)
|GDP (PPP)||$51,656,251 million IND
($8,236 per capita)
Culture is defined here as a set of distinctive material, intellectual, emotional, and spiritual features of a social group, including art, literature, sport, lifestyles, value systems, traditions, rituals, and beliefs. The link between human biology and human behavior and culture is often very close, making it difficult to clearly divide topics into one area or the other; as such, the placement of some subjects may be based primarily on convention. Culture consists of values, social norms, and artifacts. A culture's values define what it holds to be important or ethical. Closely linked are norms, expectations of how people ought to behave, bound by tradition. Artifacts, or material culture, are objects derived from the culture's values, norms, and understanding of the world.
The capacity humans have to transfer concepts, ideas and notions through speech and writing is unrivaled in known species. Unlike the call systems of other primates that are closed, human language is far more open, and gains variety in different situations. The human language has the quality of displacement, using words to represent things and happenings that are not presently or locally occurring, but elsewhere or at a different time. In this way data networks are important to the continuing development of language. The faculty of speech is a defining feature of humanity, possibly predating phylogenetic separation of the modern population. Language is central to the communication between humans, as well as being central to the sense of identity that unites nations, cultures and ethnic groups. The invention of writing systems at least 5,000 years ago allowed the preservation of language on material objects, and was a major step in cultural evolution. The science of linguistics describes the structure of language and the relationship between languages. There are approximately 6,000 different languages currently in use, including sign languages, and many thousands more that are considered extinct.
Religion is generally defined as a belief system concerning the supernatural, sacred or divine, and moral codes, practices, values, institutions and rituals associated with such belief. The evolution and the history of the first religions have recently become areas of active scientific investigation. However, in the course of its development, religion has taken on many forms that vary by culture and individual perspective. Some of the chief questions and issues religions are concerned with include life after death (commonly involving belief in an afterlife), the origin of life, the nature of the universe (religious cosmology) and its ultimate fate (eschatology), and what is moral or immoral. A common source in religions for answers to these questions are beliefs in transcendent divine beings such as deities or a singular God, although not all religions are theistic—many are nontheistic or ambiguous on the topic, particularly among the Eastern religions. Spirituality, belief or involvement in matters of the soul or spirit, is one of the many different approaches humans take in trying to answer fundamental questions about humankind's place in the universe, the meaning of life, and the ideal way to live one's life. Though these topics have also been addressed by philosophy, and to some extent by science, spirituality is unique in that it focuses on mystical or supernatural concepts such as karma and God.
Although the exact level of religiosity can be hard to measure, a majority of humans professes some variety of religious or spiritual belief, although some are irreligious: that is lacking or rejecting belief in the supernatural or spiritual. Other humans have no religious beliefs and are atheists, scientific skeptics, agnostics or simply non-religious. Humanism is a philosophy which seeks to include all of humanity and all issues common to humans; it is usually non-religious. Additionally, although most religions and spiritual beliefs are clearly distinct from science on both a philosophical and methodological level, the two are not generally considered mutually exclusive; a majority of humans holds a mix of both scientific and religious views. The distinction between philosophy and religion, on the other hand, is at times less clear, and the two are linked in such fields as the philosophy of religion and theology.
Philosophy is a discipline or field of study involving the investigation, analysis, and development of ideas at a general, abstract, or fundamental level. It is the discipline searching for a general understanding of reality, reasoning and values. Major fields of philosophy include logic, metaphysics, epistemology, philosophy of mind, and axiology (which includes ethics and aesthetics). Philosophy covers a very wide range of approaches, and is used to refer to a worldview, to a perspective on an issue, or to the positions argued for by a particular philosopher or school of philosophy.
Artistic works have existed for almost as long as humankind, from early pre-historic art to contemporary art. Art is one of the most unusual aspects of human behaviour and a key distinguishing feature of humans from other species.
As a form of cultural expression by humans, art may be defined by the pursuit of diversity and the usage of narratives of liberation and exploration (i.e. art history, art criticism, and art theory) to mediate its boundaries. This distinction may be applied to objects or performances, current or historical, and its prestige extends to those who made, found, exhibit, or own them. In the modern use of the word, art is commonly understood to be the process or result of making material works that, from concept to creation, adhere to the "creative impulse" of human beings. Art is distinguished from other works by being in large part unprompted by necessity, by biological drive, or by any undisciplined pursuit of recreation.
Music is a natural intuitive phenomenon based on the three distinct and interrelated organization structures of rhythm, harmony, and melody. Listening to music is perhaps the most common and universal form of entertainment for humans, while learning and understanding it are popular disciplines. There are a wide variety of music genres and ethnic musics. Literature, the body of written—and possibly oral—works, especially creative ones, includes prose, poetry and drama, both fiction and non-fiction. Literature includes such genres as epic, legend, myth, ballad, and folklore.
Stone tools were used by proto-humans at least 2.5 million years ago. The controlled use of fire began around 1.5 million years ago. Since then, humans have made major advances, developing complex technology to create tools to aid their lives and allowing for other advancements in culture. Major leaps in technology include the discovery of agriculture - what is known as the Neolithic Revolution; and the invention of automated machines in the Industrial Revolution. In modern times, the invention of the Internet has allowed humans to share information faster than ever before. The use of electricity as power is vital in the modern human world.
Archaeology attempts to tell the story of past or lost cultures in part by close examination of the artifacts they produced. Early humans left stone tools, pottery and jewelry that are particular to various regions and times.
The sexual division of humans into male and female has been marked culturally by a corresponding division of roles, norms, practices, dress, behavior, rights, duties, privileges, status, and power. Cultural differences by gender have often been believed to have arisen naturally out of a division of reproductive labor; the biological fact that women give birth led to their further cultural responsibility for nurturing and caring for children and households. Gender roles have varied historically, and challenges to predominant gender norms have recurred in many societies. As a whole, partriarchal societies (i.e., in which men hold the greater degree of economic and political power) have been predominant, and matriarchal or egalitarian societies less common.
Humans often categorize themselves in terms of race or ethnicity, sometimes on the basis of differences in appearance. Human racial categories have been based on both ancestry and visible traits, especially facial features, skin color and hair texture. Most current genetic and archaeological evidence supports a recent single origin of modern humans in East Africa. Current genetic studies have demonstrated that humans on the African continent are most genetically diverse. However, compared to the other great apes, human gene sequences are remarkably homogeneous. The predominance of genetic variation occurs within racial groups, with only 5 to 15% of total variation occurring between groups. Thus the scientific concept of variation in the human genome is largely incongruent with the cultural concept of ethnicity or race. Ethnic groups are defined by linguistic, cultural, ancestral, national or regional ties. Self-identification with an ethnic group is usually based on kinship and descent. Race and ethnicity are among major factors in social identity giving rise to various forms of identity politics, e.g.: racism.
There is no scientific consensus of a list of the human races, and few anthropologists endorse the notion of human "race". For example, a color terminology for race includes the following in a classification of human races: Black (e.g. Sub-Saharan Africa), Red (e.g. Native Americans), Yellow (e.g. East Asians) and White (e.g. Europeans).
Referring to natural species, in general, the term "race" is obsolete, particularly if a species is uniformly distributed on a territory. In its modern scientific connotation, the term is not applicable to a species as genetically homogeneous as the human one, as stated in the declaration on race (UNESCO 1950).
Genetic studies have substantiated the absence of biological borders, thus the term "race" has de facto disappeared from the scientific terminology, both in biological anthropology and in human genetics.
What in the past had been defined as "races"—e.g., whites, blacks, or Asians—are now defined as "ethnic groups" or "populations", in correlation with the field (sociology, anthropology, genetics) in which they are considered.
Society is the system of organizations and institutions arising from interaction between humans. A state is an organized political community occupying a definite territory, having an organized government, and possessing internal and external sovereignty. Recognition of the state's claim to independence by other states, enabling it to enter into international agreements, is often important to the establishment of its statehood. The "state" can also be defined in terms of domestic conditions, specifically, as conceptualized by Max Weber, "a state is a human community that (successfully) claims the monopoly of the 'legitimate' use of physical force within a given territory."
Government can be defined as the political means of creating and enforcing laws; typically via a bureaucratic hierarchy. Politics is the process by which decisions are made within groups. Although the term is generally applied to behavior within governments, politics is also observed in all human group interactions, including corporate, academic, and religious institutions. Many different political systems exist, as do many different ways of understanding them, and many definitions overlap. Examples of governments include monarchy, Communist state, military dictatorship, and theocracy. All of these issues have a direct relationship with economics.
War is a state of widespread conflict between states or other large groups of humans, which is characterized by the use of lethal violence between combatants and/or upon civilians. It is estimated that during the 20th century between 167 and 188 million humans died as a result of war. A common perception of war is a series of military campaigns between at least two opposing sides involving a dispute over sovereignty, territory, resources, religion, or other issues. A war between internal elements of a state is a civil war.
There have been a wide variety of rapidly advancing tactics throughout the history of war, ranging from conventional war to asymmetric warfare to total war and unconventional warfare. Techniques include hand to hand combat, the use of ranged weapons, and, more recently, air support. Military intelligence has often played a key role in determining victory and defeat. Propaganda, which often includes information, slanted opinion and disinformation, plays a key role in maintaining unity within a warring group, and/or sowing discord among opponents. In modern warfare, soldiers and armoured fighting vehicles are used to control the land, warships the sea, and aircraft the sky. These fields have also overlapped in the forms of marines, paratroopers, naval aircraft carriers, and surface-to-air missiles, among others. Satellites in low Earth orbit have made outer space a factor in warfare as well, although no actual warfare is currently known to be carried out in space.
Trade is the voluntary exchange of goods and services, and is a form of economics. A mechanism that allows trade is called a market. The original form of trade was barter, the direct exchange of goods and services. Modern traders instead generally negotiate through a medium of exchange, such as money. As a result, buying can be separated from selling, or earning. The invention of money (and later credit, paper money and non-physical money) greatly simplified and promoted trade. Because of specialization and division of labor, most people concentrate on a small aspect of manufacturing or service, trading their labour for products. Trade exists between regions because different regions have an absolute or comparative advantage in the production of some tradable commodity, or because different regions' size allows for the benefits of mass production.
Economics is a social science which studies the production, distribution, trade, and consumption of goods and services. Economics focuses on measurable variables, and is broadly divided into two main branches: microeconomics, which deals with individual agents, such as households and businesses, and macroeconomics, which considers the economy as a whole, in which case it considers aggregate supply and demand for money, capital and commodities. Aspects receiving particular attention in economics are resource allocation, production, distribution, trade, and competition. Economic logic is increasingly applied to any problem that involves choice under scarcity or determining economic value. Mainstream economics focuses on how prices reflect supply and demand, and uses equations to predict consequences of decisions.
Because the word people often refers to abstract and general types of groups, the word persons is sometimes used in place of people, especially when it would be ambiguous with its collective sense (e.g. missing persons instead of people). It can collectively refer to all humans or it can be used to identify a certain ethnic or religious group. For example, "people of color" is a phrase used in North America to describe non-whites.
The concept of personhood (who is a person within a society) is the fundamental component of any selective concept of people. A distinction is maintained in philosophy and law between the notions "human being", or "man", and "person". The former refers to the species, while the latter refers to a rational agent (see, for example, John Locke's Essay concerning Human Understanding II 27 and Immanuel Kant's Introduction to the Metaphysic of Morals). Central issues of interest to people are the understanding of the human condition and the meaning of life, and survival. Religion, philosophy, and science show or represent modes and aspects of inquiry which attempt to investigate and understand the nature, behavior, and purpose of people. Sociology, economics, and politics represent modes by which people investigate how to maximize a collective survival strategy.
by Eugène Delacroix]] Various republics govern, or claim to govern, in the name of the people. Both the Roman Republic and the Roman Empire used the Latin term Senatus Populusque Romanus, (the Senate and People of Rome). This term was fixed to Roman legionary standards, and even after the Roman Emperors achieved a state of total personal autarchy, they continued to wield their power in the name of the Senate and People of Rome. A People's Republic is typically a Marxist or socialist one-party state that claims to govern on behalf of the people. Populism is another umbrella term for various political tendencies that claim to represent the people, usually with an implication that they serve the common people instead of the elite.
In criminal law, in certain jurisdictions, criminal prosecutions are brought in the name of the People. Several U.S. states, including California, Illinois, and New York, use this style. Citations outside the jurisdictions in question usually substitute the name of the state for the words "the People" in the case captions. Four states — Massachusetts, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Kentucky — refer to themselves as the Commonwealth in case captions and legal process. Other states, such as Indiana, typically refer to themselves as the State in case captions and legal process. The political theory underlying this format is that criminal prosecutions are brought in the name of the sovereign; thus, in these U.S. states, the "people" are judged to be the sovereign, even as in the United Kingdom and other dependencies of the British Crown, criminal prosecutions are typically brought in the name of the Crown. "The people" identifies the entire body of the citizens of a jurisdiction invested with political power or gathered for political purposes.
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