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People / Human

According to biological systematics, humans (Homo sapiens, Latin for "understanding, understanding" or "wise, clever, prudent, reasonable man") are a species of the genus Homo from the family of apes, which belongs to the order of primates and thus to the higher mammals. General characteristics of humans and particular forms of human coexistence are studied in anthropology, ethnology and sociology.

In the course of human phylogeny, hominization, and sociocultural evolution, characteristics have emerged that set the stage for humans to become highly socialization- and culture-dependent beings. These include a long-lasting childhood, the ability to acquire language and to engage in communal work, and the formation of particularly complex social bonds.

Through their consciousness, the temporal dimension of existence as well as a reflected relationship to themselves become accessible to people. This leads to questions concerning one's own existence, such as personal freedom, the human position in nature, moral principles of living together and the meaning of life. In the course of reflecting on the relationship to other living beings, many cultures have developed an image of man in the course of the history of mankind so far, which separates mankind from the animal world and contrasts it with it. Such a special position was established, for example, by creation narratives that ascribe a separate origin to humans, or by the determination of humans as rational beings. But it is also echoed in modern notions such as that of human dignity.

Man is the only recent species of the genus Homo. It has been fossilized in Africa for about 300,000 years, where it evolved from Homo erectus via an evolutionary link known as archaic Homo sapiens. Between Homo sapiens, the Neanderthals and the Denisova humans there was demonstrably - presumably several times - a gene flow. Other, but much more recent fossil evidence, exists for the species from all continents except Antarctica. Of the extant great apes, chimpanzees are phylogenetically most closely related to humans, ahead of gorillas. Humans have a cosmopolitan distribution.

As of October 2018, the global human population comprised approximately 7.63 billion individuals. The development of technological civilization led to extensive anthropogenic influence on the environment (progressive hemeroby), so it has been proposed to call the current Earth Age the Anthropocene.