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
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Homo erectus (meaning "upright man," from the Latin ērigere, "to put up, set upright") is an extinct species of hominin that lived throughout most of the Pleistocene, with the earliest first fossil evidence dating to around 1.8 million years ago and the most recent to around 143,000 years ago. The species originated in Africa and spread as far as Georgia, India, Sri Lanka, China and Java.
There is still disagreement on the subject of the classification, ancestry, and progeny of H. erectus, with two major alternative classifications: erectus may be another name for Homo ergaster, and therefore the direct ancestor of later hominids such as Homo heidelbergensis, Homo neanderthalensis, and Homo sapiens; or it may be an Asian species distinct from African ergaster.
Some palaeoanthropologists consider H. ergaster to be simply the African variety of H. erectus. This leads to the use of the term "Homo erectus sensu stricto" for the Asian H. erectus, and "Homo erectus sensu lato" for the larger species comprising both the early African populations (H. ergaster) and the Asian populations.