Modern humans (Homo sapiens) are the
result of at least 62 million years of
We a relatively new species, apparently
emerging in Africa sometime within the
last 200,000-100,000 years.
We are the only hominid (upright walking
primate) species alive today.
Our first primate ancestors were likely small,
shrew-like tree-dwelling animals.
Eventually primates became larger and more
sophisticated, to the point where monkeys and
apes appear (35 and 25 million years ago,
Hominids (upright walking primates), our
closest ancestors, likely appear sometime
between 10-6 million years ago.
Living Non-Human Primates
In the past there were a great many more
types of primates in existence.
Today there are only 250 species world
wide, and most of these are endangered.
They are most threatened by habitat
loss (in most cases due to human
actions), hunting, and disease.
Living Non-Human Primates 2
Today’s primates are very diverse.
They range in size from tiny 2 ounce mouse
lemurs to 450 lbs male gorillas.
They occur naturally in Africa, large sections of
Asia, South America, Mexico, and one small
area of Europe.
Many primates are vegetarians, others
omnivores, and one is entirely carnivorous.
Living Non-Human Primates 3
Some are nocturnal, while most are
Some are relatively unintelligent, while
others are some of the smartest animals
on the planet (next to us).
Most ape and some monkey species
make and use tools.
Some Principle Primate
Grasping hands (and sometimes tails).
High degree of learned behavior.
Large brains (in relation to body size and
when compared to other animals).
Most have flat nails in stead of claws.
Almost all live in social groups.
(Relatively) long life-spans.
Living Primate Groups
Lorises (Africa and Asia)
Tarsiers (Southeast Asia)
Monkeys (Africa, Asia, Americas)
Apes (Africa and Asia)
Humans (All over the damn place)
Genetic evidence suggest that hominids arise in
Africa perhaps as early as 10 million years
The earliest fully documented hominid fossils
date to only 4.4 million years ago.
This species has been named Ardipithecus
Though a biped, this species is still very ape-like
in many ways.
Ardipithecus Ramidus Remains
Hominid Evolution 2
By 4.2 million years ago a series of species
known as australopithecines begin to appear.
The most famous of these is an example of the
species Australopithecus afarensis, which has
been nicknamed “Lucy.”
Though less primitive than earlier hominid
species, Lucy an her kind are still quite apelike
in many ways.
At this point in hominid evolution, brain size is
still roughly that of a modern chimpanzee.
The Genus Homo
The genus “homo,” which eventually gives
rise to modern humans first appears around 2.5
million years ago.
The first of these species, Homo habilis, is the
first hominid who has be shown to have made
By 1.8 million years ago Homo Erectus
Homo erectus may be the first hominid to have
The Genus Homo 2
H. erectus has body proportions similar to
that of modern humans.
The most intelligent hominid so far.
May have hunted large game.
May have used fire.
May have had at least some language
Archaic Homo Sapiens
By out 800,000 years ago a series of
hominids appear in various parts of the
world that have features associated with
both H. erectus as well as later hominids.
The hominids may or may not be direct
ancestors to modern humans.
They do, however, appear to have given
rise to Neanderthals.
Neanderthals first appear around 150,000
years ago and die out around 27,000 years
They are a cold-weather adapted species
found mostly in Ice-Age Europe and parts of
the Middle East.
Anatomically they are know for their robust
muscular bodies and unusual facial anatomy.
Most likely the most intelligent hominid other
than modern humans.
Homo sapiens first appear in Africa between
200,000 and 100,000 years ago.
Most likely evolved out of either Archaic
Homo sapiens or Homo erectus.
The main difference between Homo sapiens
and their hominid ancestors is their extreme
intelligence - Homo sapiens are by far the
smartest hominid that ever lived.
Homo Sapiens 2
By around 12,000 years ago modern
humans have migrated world-wide, living
in just about every environment except
Antarctica, extremely high mountain
regions, and isolated oceanic islands.
It has been hypothesized modern humans
out competed other hominid species to
quickly emerge as the only surviving
hominid species on the planet.
Homo sapiens is a very young species.
Though we feature much diversity in
appearance, these differences are minor
compared to our biological similarities.
In fact, all human beings are quite closely
We are all likely only 2000 or so
generations removed from a common
Many of our physical differences (skin,
color, hair color, etc.) are relatively recent
adaptations to local environment
Fast-acting evolutionary forces such as
genetic drift have also played a role in
our creating such variation as well.
In the past biologists and anthropologists
classified humans into different groups based
on physical characteristics.
Modern genetics has revealed that these
categories make very little sense biologically.
Most biologists and anthropologist no longer
view these categories as scientifically valid.
Biological Classification 2
Biologists (generally) use the term
“subspecies” to classify populations within a
species that have become so different from the
species as a whole that they are on the verge of
becoming new species.
The term “race” has traditionally been used by
scientists as the equivalent of the subspecies
concept when classifying humans.
Biological Classification 3
Modern genetics has shown that humans
are far too closely related for any division
into subspecies to be valid.
The term race, therefore, no longer has
any significant scientific meaning.
In fact, there is greater biological
diversity within traditional racial
categories than between them.
Biological Classification 4
Today when the term “race” is used what
is actually being referred to are largely
cultural, not biological differences.
In other words, cultural and
biological traits are being confused.
Ethnicity - A group of people sharing a
common origins, history, language, and in many
cases religion, social and political structure, and
perceived biological commonalities. (Ethnicity
can be defined both from within and without a
Ethnicity refers primarily to culture not
Ethnocentrism - … is the belief that
one’s own patterns of behavior [and
belief] are always natural, good, beautiful
and important, and that strangers, to the
extent that they live [and think] differently,
live by savage, inhuman, disgusting, or
irrational standards. – Marvin Harris
Ethnocentrism - the belief that one’s
own cultural group and the behavioral
patterns in which it engages are simply
the way humans should be and the
further a group or individual deviates from
these norms the more “wrong” (strange,
weird, unnatural, immoral, unacceptable)
Anthropology and Society
Before the advent of modern genetic studies,
anthropologists actively engaged in the study of
race and disseminated views that turned out to
be inaccurate to the general public.
In large part because of these efforts false ideas
still permeate the public discourse cause a great
deal of confusion in regards to the differences
between human biology and human culture.