BBC Home

Explore the BBC

10th July 2014
Accessibility help
Text only

Guide ID: A275951 (Edited)

Edited Guide Entry

Edited Entries only
Search h2g2Advanced Search

or register to join or start a new conversation.

BBC Homepage
The Guide to Life, The Universe and Everything.

1. Life / Biology / Human Anatomy
3. Everything / Maths, Science & Technology / Biology / Human Anatomy

Created: 16th March 2000
Human Beings
Contact Us

Like this page?
Send it to a friend!

A bipedal human being.

The human being, or Homo sapiens1, is an Earth-dwelling, carbon-based mammal and comes in a small variety of shapes and sizes. Its current population is estimated to be six billion (or six milliard under the British numerical system).

How to Spot a Human Being

There are several distinguishing features that make human beings different from other Earth life forms:

  • Bipedalism - Human beings walk on only two limbs, and are capable of sustaining this for extended periods of time depending on alcohol and caffeine levels.

  • Hands - Freed from the burden of locomotion, the front limbs include the opposable thumbs which allow humans to pick things up.

  • Tools - Humans create and use sophisticated tools to manipulate their environment, which has enabled them to construct sophisticated machines and buildings. Other animals have also been known to make and use tools. For example, chimpanzees have been observed removing the leaves from branches, then using those branches to draw termites from termite mounds. However, humans are the only animals so far who create tools and use them to create other tools.

  • Large brains - Admittedly, this is a bit subjective, but relative to their body mass, humans have more brain cells than many other kinds of animals.

  • Language - This is the big one. Language allows humans to communicate with each other, not just about the present (which things like mating calls and pheromones can do as well) but also about the past and the future.

How Human Beings Came to Be

There are several theories about how the human being came to be. These include:

  • Darwinism - In the mid-19th Century, Charles Darwin came up with the Theory of Evolution. This basically says that life originated in simple form and slowly evolved to the life we see today, including the human being. Most scientists follow this theory, as it explains unneeded features on animals such as wings on chickens. However, there are still many 'missing links' to substantiate this theory.

  • Creationism - Creation was the only popular theory until Darwin and is still believed by many, especially those who consider the human being to be above the rest of creation. It states God(s) created Man2 and then later created Woman out of Man. This theory is simple to explain as it cannot be proven because the only evidence possible to substantiate it is a reference to a couple without belly buttons.

  • Invadism - A theory drawn up by science fiction writers such as Douglas Adams. This theory can intermix with Darwinism and actually fills in the missing link between Homo erectus and Homo sapiens. According to The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, for example, a spaceship containing frozen Homo sapiens lands on Earth and they eventually kill off the Homo erectus. This theory avoids mentioning or ignoring God and also does not put Man above or below other creatures.

1 Homo sapiens translates as 'intelligent man'.
2 Often believed to be 'in His own Image'.

Clip/Bookmark this page
This article has not been bookmarked.
Written and Researched by:

Alon (aka Mr.Cynic)

Edited by:


Referenced Entries:

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
World Population
What Is God?
Science Fiction - Some Hard, Some Soft
One Brain - Two Halves
Creationism and Creation Science - A Perspective
The Theory of Evolution - Part I
Evolution and Creation - an Introduction and Glossary
Language and Life - a Perspective on Species
Pongidae - the Great Apes Family
Douglas Adams - His Life and Worlds
Feet - Important Extremities

Related BBC Pages:

BBC Science and Nature: H...

Photo supplied by:



Start a new conversation

People have been talking about this Guide Entry. Here are the most recent Conversations:

heyOct 27, 2008
2 slight errors.Jan 31, 2007
im new so plz be nice :PJan 16, 2005
What ever happened to Human Beings being "mostly harmless?"Dec 10, 2003
DarwinismMay 27, 2003
being evolved into H2G2 sapiens.Jun 28, 2002
How about religionOct 31, 2001
Destructive AnimalsSep 2, 2000
HeinzMar 17, 2000
A minor inaccuracy...Mar 16, 2000


Most of the content on h2g2 is created by h2g2's Researchers, who are members of the public. The views expressed are theirs and unless specifically stated are not those of the BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of any external sites referenced. In the event that you consider anything on this page to be in breach of the site's House Rules, please click here. For any other comments, please start a Conversation above.

About the BBC | Help | Terms of Use | Privacy & Cookies Policy