Humans are uniquely adept at utilizing systems of symbolic communication such as language and art for self-expression, the exchange of ideas, and organization. Humans create complex social structures composed of many cooperating and competing groups, from families and kinship networks to states. Social interactions between humans have established an extremely wide variety of values, social norms, and rituals, which together form the basis of human society. The human desire to understand and influence their environment, and explain and manipulate phenomena, has been the foundation for the development of science, philosophy, mythology, and religion.
The human lineage diverged from the last common ancestor with its closest living relative, the chimpanzee, some five million years ago, evolving into the australopithecines and eventually the genus Homo. The first Homo species to move out of Africa was Homo erectus, the African variety of which, together with Homo heidelbergensis, is considered to be the immediate ancestor of modern humans. Homo sapiens originated in Africa, where it reached anatomical modernity about 200,000 years ago and began to exhibit full behavioral modernity around 50,000 years ago. Homo sapiens proceeded to colonize the continents, arriving in Eurasia 125,000–60,000 years ago, Australia around 40,000 years ago, the Americas around 15,000 years ago, and remote islands such as Hawaii, Easter Island, Madagascar, and New Zealand between the years AD 300 and 1280.
Humans began to practice sedentary agriculture about 12,000 years ago, domesticating plants and animals which allowed for the growth of civilization. Humans subsequently established various forms of government, religion, and culture around the world, unifying people within a region and leading to the development of states and empires. The rapid advancement of scientific and medical understanding in the 19th and 20th centuries led to the development of fuel-driven technologies and improved health, causing the human population to rise exponentially. With individuals widespread in every continent except Antarctica, humans are a cosmopolitan species. By 2012 the global human population was estimated to be around 7 billion.
Emythology and DefinitionEdit
n common usage, the word "human" generally refers to the only extant species of the genus Homo — anatomically and behaviorally modern Homo sapiens. Its usage often designates differences between the species as a whole, against any other nature or entity. The term "human" also designates the collective identity, often applied to superseding concepts of race and creed; e.g. "our" human nature and humanity.
In scientific terms, the definition of "human" has changed with the discovery and study of the fossil ancestors of modern humans. The previously clear boundary between human and ape blurred, resulting in "Homo" referring to "human" now encompassing multiple species. There is also a distinction between anatomically modern humans and Archaic Homo sapiens, the earliest fossil members of the species, which are classified as a subspecies of Homo sapiens, e.g. Homo sapiens neanderthalensis.
The English adjective human is a Middle English loanword from Old French humain, ultimately from Latin hūmānus, the adjective form of homō "man". The word's use as a noun (with a plural: humans) dates to the 16th century. The native English term man can refer to the species generally (a synonym for humanity), and could formerly refer to specific individuals of either sex. The latter use is now obsolete. Generic uses of the term "man" are declining, in favor of reserving it for referring specifically to adult males. The word is from Proto-Germanic mannaz, from a Proto-Indo-European (PIE) root man-.
The species binomial Homo sapiens was coined by Carl Linnaeus in his 18th century work Systema Naturae, and he himself is the lectotype specimen. The generic name Homo is a learned 18th century derivation from Latin homō "man", ultimately "earthly being" (Old Latin hemō, a cognate to Old English guma "man", from PIE dʰǵʰemon-, meaning "earth" or "ground"). The species-name sapiens means "wise" or "sapient". Note that the Latin word homo refers to humans of either gender, and that sapiens is the singular form (while there is no word sapien).