Origin story: Rewriting human history through DNA

For most of our evolutionary history—for most of the time anatomically modern humans have been on Earth—we've shared the planet with other species of humans. It's only been in the last 30,000 years, the mere blink of ...

Scientists link Neanderthal extinction to human diseases

Growing up in Israel, Gili Greenbaum would give tours of local caves once inhabited by Neanderthals and wonder along with others why our distant cousins abruptly disappeared about 40,000 years ago. Now a scientist at Stanford, ...

The last Neanderthal necklace

Eagle talons are regarded as the first elements used to make jewelery by Neanderthals, a practice that spread around Southern Europe about 120,000 to 40,000 years ago. Now, for the first time, researchers have found evidence ...

Is Botswana humanity's ancestral home? Maybe not

A recent paper in thejournal Nature claims to show that modern humans originated about 200,000 years ago in the region around northern Botswana. For a scientist like myself who studies human origins, this is exciting news. ...

The homeland of modern humans

A study has concluded that the earliest ancestors of anatomically modern humans (Homo sapiens sapiens) emerged in a southern African 'homeland' and thrived there for 70 thousand years.

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Human

A human is a member of a species of bipedal primates in the family Hominidae (taxonomically Homo sapiens—Latin: "wise man" or "knowing man"). DNA and fossil evidence indicates that modern humans originated in east Africa about 200,000 years ago . When compared to other animals and primates, 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 forelimbs (arms) for manipulating objects, has allowed humans to make far greater use of tools than any other species. Humans are distributed worldwide, with significant populations inhabiting most land areas of Earth. The human population on Earth is greater than 6.7 billion, as of February 2009,

Like most higher primates, humans are social by nature. Humans are particularly adept at utilizing systems of communication—primarily spoken, gestural, and written language—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 traditions, rituals, ethics, values, social norms, and laws, which together form the basis of human society. Humans are distinctive as a species on the Earth by having a perception of beauty and aesthetics at least to a point which results in a material culture. This, when combined with the desire for self-expression and a proportionally large brain-size, has led to innovations such as art, written language, music and science.

Humans seek to understand and influence the environment around them by trying to explain and manipulate natural phenomena through philosophy, art, science, mythology, and religion. This natural curiosity has led to the development of advanced tools and skills. Although humans are not the only species to use tools, they are unique in building fires, cooking their food, and clothing themselves; as well as using other advanced technologies. Humans pass down their skills and knowledge to the next generations and so are regarded as dependent upon culture.

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