Homo Sapiens

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Definition

Homo sapiens ('wise man'), or modern humans, are the only species of human still around today. Despite having invented countless ways of labelling the world around us, we have so far done a surprisingly poor job at defining ourselves. Originating in Africa somewhere around 200,000 years ago, and a big wave of us adventuring beyond that initial continent around 55,000 years ago, with our characteristically slender skeletons and big heads, one would think the story is quite clear-cut.

More about: Homo Sapiens

Timeline

  • c. 2600000 BCE - c. 12000 BCE
    The Pleistocene epoch, ranging from c. 2,6 million years ago until c. 12,000 years ago. It is characterised by repeated cycles of glacials and interglacials.
  • c. 2600000 BCE - c. 12000 BCE
    The Palaeolithic (or Old Stone Age) period, ranging from c. 2,6 million years ago until c. 12,000 years ago.
  • c. 550000 BCE - c. 765000 BCE
    Estimated time of divergence between the branch that would develop into Neanderthals on the one hand and Denisovans on the other, and the branch that would lead to Homo sapiens.
  • c. 200000 BCE
    Roughly around this time, early modern humans (Homo sapiens) become recognisable in Africa. .
  • c. 55000 BCE
    Main migration out of Africa of a group of Homo sapiens that are ancestral to most non-Africans alive today.
  • c. 44000 BCE - c. 54000 BCE
    Estimated time at which Denisovans interbred with the ancestors of present-day Melanesians, presumably in Southeast Asia.
  • c. 12000 BCE - c. 9000 BCE
    The Mesolithic (or Middle Stone Age), lasting from the end of the last Ice Age until the start of agriculture, between c. 9000-c. 4000 BCE.
  • c. 9000 BCE - c. 3300 BCE
    The Neolithic (or New Stone Age), lasting from the start of agriculture between c. 9000-c. 4000 BCE until the beginning of bronze use c. 3300 BCE.
  • c. 3300 BCE - c. 1200 BCE
    The Bronze Age, lasting from c. 3300 BCE- c. 1200 BCE in the Near East and South Asia and c. 600 BCE in Europe.
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