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Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Primates
Family: Hominidae
Subfamily: Homininae
Tribe: Hominini
Subtribe: Hominina
Genus: Homo
Linnaeus, 1758

Homo sapiens sapiens
See text for extinct species.

Homo is the genus that includes modern humans and their close relatives. The genus is estimated to be between 1.5 and 2.5 million years old. All species except Homo sapiens (modern humans) are extinct. Homo neanderthalensis, traditionally considered the last surviving relative, died out 30,000 years ago while recent evidence suggests that Homo floresiensis lived as recently as 12,000 years ago.

A minority of zoologists consider that the two species of chimpanzees (usually treated in the genus Pan), and maybe the gorillas (usually treated in the genus Gorilla) should also be included in the genus based on genetic similarities. Most scientists argue that chimpanzees and gorillas have too many anatomical differences between themselves and humans to be part of Homo. The genus Homo is most closely related to Kenyanthropus platyops, which is likely to be an ancestral species. Through that species, Homo is next most closely related to the group of extinct species in the genera Paranthropus and Australopithecus, whose evolutionary branch split off from the proto-Homo line some 5 million years ago.

The word homo is Latin for "man", in the original sense of "human being", or "person". The word "human" itself is from Latin humanus, an adjective cognate to homo, both derived from PIE dhǵhem-



  • Homo habilis (Handy Man)
  • Homo rudolfensis (Rudolf Man)
  • Homo ergaster (Working Man)
  • Homo erectus (Upright Man)
  • Homo floresiensis (Flores Man — discovered 2003)
  • Homo antecessor (Predecessor Man)
  • Homo heidelbergensis (Heidelberg Man)
  • Homo neanderthalensis (Neanderthal Man)
  • Homo rhodesiensis (Rhodesia Man)
  • Homo cepranensis (Ceprano Man)
  • Homo georgicus (Georgia Man)
  • Homo sapiens
    • Homo sapiens idaltu (elderly wise man — discovered 1997)
    • Homo sapiens sapiens (Wise Man; modern humans)

H. heidelbergensis and H. neanderthalensis are closely related to each other and have been considered to be subspecies of Homo sapiens, but analysis of mitochondrial DNA from H. neanderthalensis fossils suggests that the difference is great enough to count as a separate species.[How to reference and link to summary or text] H. rhodesiensis and H. cepranensis are also more closely related to each other than to the other species.


  • Serre et al. (2004). No evidence of Neandertal mtDNA contribution to early modern humans. PLoS Biology 2 (3): 313–7. PMID 15024415.

External links


Introduction to Paleoanthropology may have more about this subject.

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