Encyclopedia of Global Archaeology

Living Edition
| Editors: Claire Smith (Editor-in-Chief)

Homo Sapiens

Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-51726-1_693-2


Homo sapiens is the species commonly referred to as humans. The species evolved in Africa more than 300,000 years ago and is the only living representative of the genus Homo. Humans have a gracile body build compared to earlier members of the genus Homo. All humans have a chin and a large brain that is highly developed. This brain allowed for the evolution of behavioral modernity and for continuous social and technological innovations to take place that allow Homo sapiens to survive in all habitats.


Homo sapiens (Linnæus 1758). Species to which all living modern humans belong. While fossils closely resembling living humans are often referred to as “anatomically modern Homo sapiens,” earlier members of the lineage are sometimes termed “archaic Homo sapiens.”

Key Issues/Current Debates/Future Directions/Examples


Homo sapiens around the world share a number of derived characteristics (Lieberman 2008). These features were not present in previous hominins...

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Further Reading

  1. Stringer, C. 2011. The origin of our species. London: Allen Lane.Google Scholar
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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Human Origins Research Group, Earth Sciences DepartmentThe Natural History MuseumLondonUK
  2. 2.Research Centre in Evolutionary Anthropology and Palaeoecology, School of Natural Sciences and PsychologyLiverpool John Moores UniversityLiverpoolUK

Section editors and affiliations

  • Chen Shen
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of World CulturesRoyal Ontario MuseumTorontoCanada