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Fossil range: Pleistocene - Recent
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Primates
Family: Hominidae
Genus: Homo
Species: H. sapiens
Subspecies: H. s. sapiens
Trinomial name
Homo sapiens sapiens
Linnaeus, 1758

Modern humans, known as Homo sapiens[1] (Latin for "wise man" [2]), are the only living species in the homo genus of bipedal primates in Hominidae, the great ape family. Anatomically modern humans originated in Africa about 200,000 years ago,[3] and reached full modernity around 50,000 years ago.

The closest relatives within the family Hominidae are the Chimpanzees and Bonobos. Humans distinguish themselves from all other primates by their erect posture, bipedal gait and use of language. Humans have a highly developed brain, capable of abstract reasoning, introspection, and problem solving. This mental capability, combined with the erect posture that frees the hands for manipulating objects, has allowed humans to make far greater use of tools than any other living species on Earth.

Humans have been very successful and have colonized all continents of the Earth, though some, such as Thomas Malthus, theorize that humans are growing beyond the ability of the environment to support them. See Demography for more on human population growth.


  1. Genus Homo P. Myers, R. Espinosa, C. S. Parr, T. Jones, G. S. Hammond and T. A. Dewey. 2008. From the "Animal Diversity" website of the University of Michigan.
  2. Homo sapiens From William Turton's 1802 translation of Linnæus, coined in modern Latin from homo meaning "man" and sapere meaning "wise".
  3. Homo sapiens From the website of the "Human Origins Initiative" of the Smithsonian Institute's National Museum of Natural History.