human evolution

evolutionary process leading up to the appearance of anatomically modern humans

Human evolution is the evolutionary process that led to the emergence of anatomically modern humans, beginning with the evolutionary history of primates—in particular genus Homo—and leading to the emergence of Homo sapiens as a distinct species of the hominid family, the great apes. This process involved the gradual development of traits such as human bipedalism and language, as well as interbreeding with other hominins, which indicate that human evolution was not linear but a web.The study of human evolution involves several scientific disciplines, including physical anthropology, primatology, archaeology, paleontology, neurobiology, ethology, linguistics, evolutionary psychology, embryology and genetics. Genetic studies show that primates diverged from other mammals about 85 million years ago, in the Late Cretaceous period, and the earliest fossils appear in the Paleocene, around 55 million years ago.Within the Hominoidea (apes aka hominoids) superfamily, the Hominidae (great apes aka hominids) family diverged from the Hylobatidae (lesser apes aka gibbons etc.) family some 15–20 million years ago; Homininae (African apes) subfamily diverged from Ponginae (orangutans ) about 14 million years ago; the Hominini tribe (including humans, Australopithecines and other extinct biped genera, and chimpanzees) parted from the Gorillini tribe (gorillas) between 8–9 million years ago; and, in turn, the subtribes Hominina (hominins, humans and extinct biped ancestors) and Panina (chimpanzees) separated 4–7 million years ago.
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main subject: human evolution


The Third Chimpanzee

Book on human evolution and early history

author: Jared Diamond


A Troublesome Inheritance

book by Nicholas Wade

author: Nicholas Wade


The Dragons of Eden

book by Carl Sagan

author: Carl Sagan Institute


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