Humans are animals, mammals, primates, and hominoids, and thus we share extensive similarities with each of these groups, especially our closest cousins, the apes. But we are also hominins, specifically genus Homo, species sapiens. Understanding our evolutionary history is understanding both what we have in common with other primates and what happened over the past 7 to 10 million years since our divergence from the other African ape lineages. Or more specifically, what happened in the two-million-year history of our own genus. There is robust evidence that our lineage underwent significant changes in bodies, behavior, and ecologies across the Pleistocene, resulting in the development of a human niche. This essay outlines the deep similarities, and the critical differences, between humans and the apes and offers an anthropological and evolutionary explanation for why we should care.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
- Evolutionary discontinuities
- Human niche