Model of a male Homo erectus, an early type of human

Homo erectus

Debate continues over whether Homo erectus is a human ancestor. If Homo erectus and Homo ergaster are identified as separate species, Homo erectus would be a sibling rather than a true ancestor. Homo erectus was a successful, long-lived species that migrated out of Africa. Possibly the first humans to live in hunter-gather societies, they also used rafts to travel the oceans. One of the first specimens identified as Homo erectus was the Java Man fossil discovered in 1891. Orginally named Pithecanthropus erectus, it was not recognised as a close human relative at first, as old theories held that our ancestors would have had human brains and ape-like bodies, rather than the converse.

Scientific name: Homo erectus

Rank: Species

Common names:

upright man

Additional data source: Animal Diversity Web

When they lived

Discover the other animals and plants that lived during the following geological time periods.

What their world was like

Ice age Ice age
The last ice age hasn't ended, the climate has just warmed up a bit causing the ice sheets to retreat. When the ice was more extensive, our climate was very different.

Fossil types

Learn more about the other animals and plants that also form these fossils.

Trace fossils Trace fossils
It's not only the actual bodily remains of dead animals and plants that can become fossils. Things created or left behind by animals can also fossilise, such as their footprints, burrows and dung.

BBC News about Homo erectus