H. s. sapiens
†H. s. idaltu
†H. s. neanderthalensis(?)
†H. s. rhodesiensis(?)
Homo sapiens is the systematic name used in taxonomy (also known as
binomial nomenclature) for anatomically modern humans, i.e. the only
extant human species. The name is
Latin for "wise man" and was
introduced in 1758 by
Carl Linnaeus (who is himself also the type
Extinct species of the genus
Homo are classified as "archaic humans".
This includes at least the separate species
Homo erectus, and possibly
a number of other species (which are variously also considered
subspecies of either H. sapiens or H. erectus). H. sapiens idaltu
(2003) is a proposed extinct subspecies of H. sapiens.
The age of speciation of H. sapiens out of ancestral H. erectus (or an
intermediate species such as
Homo heidelbergensis) is estimated to
have taken place at roughly 315,000 years ago. However, there is known
to have been continued admixture from archaic human species until as
late as some 30,000 years ago; this is also the time of disappearance
of any surviving archaic human species, which were apparently absorbed
by the recent Out-Of-Africa expansion of
Homo sapiens beginning some
50,000 years ago.
1 Name and taxonomy
2 Age and speciation process
4 External links
Name and taxonomy
Homo and Names for the human species
The binomial name
Homo sapiens was coined by
Carl Linnaeus (1758).
Latin noun homō (genitive hominis) means "human being."
Extant human populations have historically been divided into
subspecies, but since c. the 1980s all extant groups tend to be
subsumed into a single species, H. sapiens, avoiding division into
Some sources show Neanderthals (
Homo neanderthalensis) as a subspecies
Homo sapiens neanderthalensis). Similarly, the discovered
specimens of the
Homo rhodesiensis species have been classified by
some as a subspecies (
Homo sapiens rhodesiensis), although it remains
more common to treat these last two as separate species within the
Homo genus rather than as subspecies within H. sapiens.
Age and speciation process
Further information: Anatomically modern humans
Human evolution, Homo, Timeline of human
evolution, and Early human migrations
Schematic representation of the emergence of H. sapiens from earlier
species of Homo. The horizontal axis represents geographic location;
the vertical axis represents time in millions of years ago (blue areas
denote the presence of a certain species of
Homo at a given time and
place; late survival of robust australopithecines alongside
indicated in purple). Based on Springer (2012), Homo
heidelbergensis is shown as diverging into Neanderthals, Denisovans
and H. sapiens. With the rapid expansion of H. sapiens after 60 kya,
Neanderthals, Denisovans and unspecified archaic African hominins are
shown as again subsumed into the H. sapiens lineage.
The speciation of H. sapiens out of varieties of H. erectus is
estimated as having taken place between 200,000 and 300,000 years ago.
Dispersal of early H. sapiens begins soon after its emergence.
San people of Southern Africa may be the human population with the
deepest temporal division from all other contemporary populations,
estimated at close to 130,000 years ago. A 2011 study has classified
them as an "ancestral population cluster". The same study also located
the origin of the first wave of expansion of H. sapiens, beginning
roughly 130,000 years ago, in southwestern Africa, near the coastal
Namibia and Angola.
Since the 1970s, the Omo remains, dated to some 195,000 years ago,
have often been taken as the conventional cut-off point for the
emergence of "anatomically modern humans". Since the 2000s, the
discovery of older remains with comparable characteristics, and the
discovery of ongoing hybridization between "modern" and "archaic"
populations after the time of the Omo remains, have opened up a
renewed debate on the "age of
Homo sapiens", in journalistic
publications cast into terms of "
Homo sapiens may be older than
A 2017 analysis suggested that the
Khoi-San diverged from West African
populations as early as 350,000 years ago, i.e. well before the
commonly assumed age of H. sapiens. The discovery of fossils
attributed to H. sapiens, along with stone tools, dated to
approximately 300,000 years ago, found at Jebel Irhoud, Morocco was
announced in 2017.
Homo sapiens idaltu, found at site Middle Awash
in Ethiopia, lived about 160,000 years ago;
Early H sapiens may have reached Asia in a first wave as early as
120,000 years ago. Evidence presented in 2017 raises the
possibility that a yet earlier migration, dated to around 270,000
years ago, may have left traces of admixture in Neanderthal
The Recent "Out of Africa" migration of
Homo sapiens took place in at
least two waves, the first around 130,000 to 100,000 years ago, the
second around 70,000 to 60,000 years ago. Eurasia had long been
populated by archaic humans, due to the "Out of Africa I" migration
more than a million years before. Since the 2010s, admixture events
(introgression) of populations of H. sapiens with populations of
archaic humans have been discovered as having taken place between
roughly 40,000 and 30,000 years ago, both in Eurasia and in
Sub-Saharan Africa. A 177,000-year-old jawbone fossil discovered in
Israel in 2018 is the oldest human remains found outside Africa to
The hypothesis that humans have a single origin (monogenesis) was
published in Charles Darwin's
Descent of Man
Descent of Man (1871). The recent
dispersal of H. sapiens from Africa has been called the (Recent)
Out-of-Africa model in the popular press, and academically the recent
single-origin hypothesis (RSOH), Replacement Hypothesis, and Recent
African Origin (RAO) model. The concept had been speculative until the
1980s, and competed with the so-called multiregional origin model.
Evidence for the overwhelming contribution of the "recent African
origin" of modern populations outside of Africa, due to the wave of
expansion beginning after 70,000 years ago, was established based on
mitochondrial DNA, combined with evidence based on physical
anthropology of archaic specimens, during the 1990s and 2000s. The
assumption of complete replacement has been revised in the 2010s with
the discovery of limited admixture (of the order of a few
The recent single origin of modern humans in
East Africa was the
near-consensus position held within the scientific community prior to
2010. The multiregional origin model, proposed by Milford H.
Wolpoff in 1988 provides another explanation for the pattern
of human evolution. Multiregional origin holds that the evolution of
humanity from the beginning of the
Pleistocene 2.5 million years BP to
the present day has been within a single, continuous human species.
Homo sapiens idaltu, the other known subspecies, is now extinct.
Homo neanderthalensis, which became extinct 30,000 years ago, has
sometimes been classified as a subspecies, "
neanderthalensis"; genetic studies now suggest that the functional DNA
of modern humans and Neanderthals diverged 500,000 years ago.
Following the second Out-of-Africa expansion, some 70,000 to 50,000
years ago, some subpopulations of H. sapiens have been essentially
isolated for tens of thousands of years prior to the early modern Age
of Discovery. Combined with archaic admixture this has resulted in
significant genetic variation, which in some instances has been shown
to be the result of directional selection taking place over the past
15,000 years, i.e. significantly later than possible archaic admixture
Mammal Assessment Team (2008). "
Homo sapiens". The
List of Threatened Species. IUCN. 2008: e.T136584A4313662.
doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2008.RLTS.T136584A4313662.en. Retrieved 12 January
^ Linné, Carl von (1758). Systema naturæ. Regnum animale (10th ed.).
pp. 18, 20. Retrieved 19 November 2012. .
^ The history of claimed or proposed subspecies of H. sapiens is
complicated and fraught with controversy. The only widely recognized
archaic subspecies is H. sapiens idaltu (2003). The name H. s. sapiens
is due to
Linnaeus (1758), and refers by definition the subspecies of
Linnaeus himself is the type specimen. However, Linnaeus
postulated four other extant subspecies, viz. H. s. afer, H. s.
americanus, H. s. asiaticus and H. s. ferus for Africans, Americans,
Asians and Malay. This classification remained in common usage until
the mid 20th century, sometimes alongide H. s. tasmanianus for
Australians. See e.g. John Wendell Bailey, The Mammals of Virginia
(1946), p. 356.; Journal of Mammalogy 26-27 (1945), p. 359.; The
Mankind Quarterly 1-2 (1960), 113ff ("Zoological
Subspecies of Man").
The division of extant human populations into taxonomic subspecies was
gradually given up in the 1970s (e.g. Grzimek's
Encyclopedia, Volume 11, p. 55).
^ Hublin, J. J. (2009). "The origin of Neandertals". Proceedings of
the National Academy of Sciences. 106 (38): 16022–7.
JSTOR 40485013. PMC 2752594 . PMID 19805257.
^ Harvati, K.; Frost, S.R.; McNulty, K.P. (2004). "Neanderthal
taxonomy reconsidered: implications of 3D primate models of intra- and
interspecific differences". Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 101 (5):
1147–52. Bibcode:2004PNAS..101.1147H. doi:10.1073/pnas.0308085100.
PMC 337021 . PMID 14745010.
Homo neanderthalensis King, 1864". Wiley-Blackwell Encyclopedia of
Human Evolution. Chichester, West Sussex: Wiley-Blackwell. 2013.
^ Stringer, C. (2012). "What makes a modern human". Nature. 485
(7396): 33–35. doi:10.1038/485033a. PMID 22552077.
^ Henn, Brenna; Gignoux, Christopher R.; Jobin, Matthew (2011).
"Hunter-gatherer genomic diversity suggests a southern African origin
for modern humans". Proceedings of the
National Academy of Sciences
National Academy of Sciences of
the United States of America. National Academy of Sciences. 108 (13):
5154–62. Bibcode:2011PNAS..108.5154H. doi:10.1073/pnas.1017511108.
PMC 3069156 . PMID 21383195.
^ "New Clues Add 40,000 Years to Age of
Human Species – NSF –
National Science Foundation". www.nsf.gov. "Age of ancient
humans reassessed". BBC News. February 16, 2005. Retrieved April 10,
2010. The Oldest
Homo Sapiens: – URL retrieved May 15, 2009
Alemseged, Z.; Coppens, Y.; Geraads, D. (2002). "Hominid cranium from
Homo: Description and taxonomy of Homo-323-1976-896". Am J Phys
Anthropol. 117 (2): 103–12. doi:10.1002/ajpa.10032.
PMID 11815945. Stoneking, Mark; Soodyall, Himla (1996).
Human evolution and the mitochondrial genome". Current Opinion in
Genetics & Development. 6 (6): 731–6.
^ Schlebusch; et al. (3 November 2017). "Southern African ancient
genomes estimate modern human divergence to 350,000 to 260,000 years
ago". Science. 358 (6363): 652–655.
^ Callaway, Ewan (7 June 2017). "Oldest
Homo sapiens fossil claim
rewrites our species' history". Nature. doi:10.1038/nature.2017.22114.
Retrieved 11 June 2017.
^ White, Tim D.; Asfaw, Berhane; Degusta, David; Gilbert, Henry;
Richards, Gary D.; Suwa, Gen; Howell, Clark F. (June 2003).
Homo sapiens from Middle Awash, Ethiopia". Nature. 423
(6941): 742–7. Bibcode:2003Natur.423..742W. doi:10.1038/nature01669.
^ Mayell, Hillary (16 February 2005). "Oldest
Identified". National Geographic. Retrieved 1 October 2017.
^ Bae, Christopher J.; Douka, Katerina; Petraglia, Michael D. (8
December 2017). "On the origin of modern humans: Asian perspectives".
Science. 358 (6368): eaai9067. doi:10.1126/science.aai9067. Retrieved
10 December 2017.
^ Kuo, Lily (10 December 2017). "Early humans migrated out of Africa
much earlier than we thought". Quartz. Retrieved 10 December
^ Zimmer, Carl (4 July 2017). "In
Neanderthal DNA, Signs of a
Human Migration". New York Times. Retrieved 4 July
^ Posth, Cosimo; et al. (4 July 2017). "Deeply divergent archaic
mitochondrial genome provides lower time boundary for African gene
flow into Neanderthals". Nature Communications.
doi:10.1038/ncomms16046. Retrieved 4 July 2017.
^ Ankita Mehta (26 January 2018). "A 177,000-year-old jawbone fossil
discovered in Israel is oldest human remains found outside Africa".
International Business Times.
^ Green et al. (2010) suggest that their findings are consistent with
Neanderthal admixture of up to 4% in some populations. But the study
also suggests that there may be other reasons why humans and
Neanderthals share ancient genetic lineages. Green, RE; Krause, J;
Briggs, AW; Maricic, T; Stenzel, U; Kircher, M; Patterson, N; Li, H;
Zhai, W; Fritz, M. H. Y.; Hansen, N. F.; Durand, E. Y.; Malaspinas, A.
S.; Jensen, J. D.; Marques-Bonet, T.; Alkan, C.; Prufer, K.; Meyer,
M.; Burbano, H. A.; Good, J. M.; Schultz, R.; Aximu-Petri, A.;
Butthof, A.; Hober, B.; Hoffner, B.; Siegemund, M.; Weihmann, A.;
Nusbaum, C.; Lander, E. S.; Russ, C.; et al. (2010). "A Draft Sequence
of the Neandertal Genome". Science. 328 (5979): 710–22.
PMC 5100745 . PMID 20448178. . Eriksson and Manica
(2012) proposed that the DNA overlap is a remnant of a common ancestor
of both Neanderthals and modern humans. Anders Eriksson and Andrea
Manica Effect of ancient population structure on the degree of
polymorphism shared between modern human populations and ancient
hominins PNAS 2012 : 1200567109v1-201200567. July 20, 2012
^ Liu, Hua; et al. (2006). "A Geographically Explicit Genetic Model of
Worldwide Human-Settlement History". The American Journal of Human
Genetics. 79 (2): 230–237. doi:10.1086/505436. PMC 1559480 .
PMID 16826514. Currently available genetic and archaeological
evidence is generally interpreted as supportive of a recent single
origin of modern humans in East Africa. However, this is where the
near consensus on human settlement history ends, and considerable
uncertainty clouds any more detailed aspect of human colonization
history. "Out of Africa Revisited". Science. 308 (5724): 921g.
2005-05-13. doi:10.1126/science.308.5724.921g. Retrieved
2009-11-23. Nature (2003-06-12). "
Human evolution: Out of
Ethiopia". Nature. 423 (6941): 692–695. Bibcode:2003Natur.423..692S.
doi:10.1038/423692a. PMID 12802315. Retrieved 2009-11-23.
"Origins of Modern Humans: Multiregional or Out of Africa?".
ActionBioscience. Retrieved 2009-11-23. "Modern Humans –
Single Origin (Out of Africa) vs Multiregional". Asa3.org. Retrieved
^ Wolpoff, MH; Hawks, J; Caspari, R (2000). "Multiregional, not
multiple origins". Am J Phys Anthropol. 112 (1): 129–36.
^ Wolpoff, MH; JN Spuhler; FH Smith; J Radovcic; G Pope; DW Frayer; R
Eckhardt; G Clark (1988). "Modern human origins". Science. 241 (4867):
772–4. Bibcode:1988Sci...241..772W. doi:10.1126/science.3136545.
Human evolution: the fossil evidence in 3D, by Philip L. Walker and
Edward H. Hagen, Dept. of Anthropology, University of California,
Santa Barbara. Retrieved April 5, 2005.
^ Green, R. E.; Krause, J; Ptak, S. E.; Briggs, A. W.; Ronan, M. T.;
Simons, J. F.; et al. (2006). Analysis of one million base pairs of
Neanderthal DNA. Nature. pp. 16, 330–336.
^ Wade, N (2006-03-07). "Still Evolving,
Human Genes Tell New Story".
The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-07-10.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to
Human Timeline (Interactive) – Smithsonian, National Museum of
Natural History (August 2016).
Last common ancestors
H. e. erectus
H. e. georgicus
H. e. lantianensis
H. e. nankinensis
H. e. palaeojavanicus
H. e. pekinensis
H. e. soloensis
H. e. tautavelensis
H. e. yuanmouensis
H. s. idaltu
H. s. sapiens (anatomically modern human)
Red Deer Cave people
Origin of modern humans
Recent African origin
Evolutionary biology portal
Themes and subjects
Chronology of the universe
1: Creation -
Big Bang and cosmogony
2: Stars - creation of stars
3: Elements - creation of chemical elements inside dying stars
4: Planets - formation of planets
Life - abiogenesis and evolution of life
6: Humans - development of
7: Agriculture - Agricultural Revolution
Modernity - modern era
Big History Project
Crash Course Big History
Cynthia Stokes Brown
Evolutionary biology portal