Fact Files: Homo sapiens: (HOM-oh SA-pee-ens)

Meaning: 'Knowing man'.

Lived: 150,000 - present.

Range: Worldwide.

Diet: Generalized diet.

Size: M: 175 cm / 65kg F: 161 cm / 54 kg.

Brain Size: c.1350cc.

Modern human child
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Description | Evidence

Our own species, Homo sapiens, evolved in Africa around 150,000 years ago. Homo sapiens have a characteristic look: their faces are small and tucked under a high, domed braincase. They have small eyebrow ridges and their lower jaw ends in a prominent chin. On average, their bodies are less muscular than those of earlier hominids.

The appearance of modern humans coincides with the appearance of highly crafted tools, efficient food-gathering strategies and a complex social organisation.

Early modern humans lived in mobile groups and established extensive social networks to trade goods and exchange gifts. These networks probably developed for the purpose of securing future favours when times were hard. And it seems that times were indeed hard for some of the first modern humans.

During the last Ice Age, humans were pushed to the edge of extinction, perhaps by famine and drought caused by a sharp drop in global temperatures. For these early modern humans, an increased reliance on social alliances and creativity was key to their survival.

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