Homo Sapiens

The only surviving group within the Tribe Hominini of the Order Primates, Homo sapiens is the genus and species classification by which all behaviorally and anatomically modern humans are identified. The designation is derived from the Latin for "intelligent man." When Linnaeus first classified all organic organisms in their natural order using a hierarchical system with binomial nomenclature (Systema Naturae, 1735), he was bold enough to include humans (under the genus Homo) with monkeys and apes. Unable to fully describe humans at the species level, Nosce te Ipsum ("Know thyself') is the only clue first provided by Linnaeus to describe the human condition. He then identified four varieties based on geography and skin color; except for the peculiar category reserved for monsters, just in case tales written by Herodotus were true. Today, physical anthropologists are still unable to agree on what constitutes a human being, but we can approach the subject with sys-tematics.

Species are in theory the most objective of all taxonomic categories. They are naturally defined by reproductive communality and phenotypic similarity. Species, and the characters that define them, may be objectively arrived at based on whether or not distinct populations maintain their distinctiveness in areas of sympatry and are diagnostically different. Among primates, closely related species usually exhibit frequency differences in specific characters, or differences in absolute size and proportions of structures, or of localized anatomy. For instance, all species have a type specimen (one specimen that universally exhibits the morphological and behavioral characters specific to that group) for which they are named. One notable exception is Homo sapiens. If we were to choose a type specimen, how would we go about it? Human beings are polytypic in nature, which means they have many types or varieties within a species (that is, Caucasians, Negroids, Mongoloids). Which variety would best serve as a type specimen? Until we stop looking at humans as being outside the realm of natural laws governing evolutionary pathways, we will never know the true biological meaning of Homo sapiens.

It is difficult to apply these rules to Homo sapiens without losing our objectivity. If one were to define modern humans, only a small number of unique characters stand out: (1) Homo sapiens are the only surviving members in the Family Hominidae committed to terrestrial bipedalism; (2) They have a relatively large brain—averaging 1,350 ml—with the most complex neocortex; (3) Their chinned faces are small compared with their neuro-cranium; (4) They have a bipartite brow; (5) They have a spoken language; (6) They have a relentless ability to destroy their own habitat and the habitats of others; and (7) Homo sapiens maintain a bizarre inability to remain bored. As you can see, it is rather difficult to describe modern humans without including culturally expressed behaviors.

If we were to examine our evolutionary history by examining the fossil record, we again are faced with a dilemma. About 100,000 years ago, anatomically modern humans appear

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