Humans, known taxonomically as Homo sapiens (Latin: "wise man" or "knowing man"), are the only living species in the Homo genus of bipedal primates in Hominidae, the great ape family. Anatomically modern humans originated in Africa about 200,000 years ago, reaching full behavioral modernity around 50,000 years ago.
Humans have a highly developed brain, capable of abstract reasoning, language, introspection, and problem solving. This mental capability, combined with an erect body carriage that frees the hands for manipulating objects, has allowed humans to make far greater use of tools than any other living species on Earth. Other higher-level thought processes of humans, such as self-awareness, rationality and sapience, are considered to be defining features of what constitutes a "person".
Like most higher primates, humans are social animals. However, humans are uniquely adept at utilizing systems of communication for self-expression, the exchange of ideas, and organization. Humans create complex social structures composed of many cooperating and competing groups, from families to nations. Social interactions between humans have established an extremely wide variety of values, social norms, and rituals, which together form the basis of human society. With individuals widespread in every continent except Antarctica, humans are a cosmopolitan species. As of August 2010[update], the population of humans was estimated to be about 6.8 billion.
Humans are noted for their desire to understand and influence their environment, seeking to explain and manipulate phenomena through science, philosophy, mythology and religion. This natural curiosity has led to the development of advanced tools and skills, which are passed down culturally; humans are the only species known to build fires, cook their food, clothe themselves, and use numerous other technologies. The study of humans is the scientific discipline of anthropology.
Further information: Man (word) and List of alternative names for the human speciesThe English adjective human is a Middle English loan from Old French humain, ultimately from Latin hūmānus, the adjective of homō "man". Use as a noun (with a plural humans) dates to the 16th century. The native English term man is now often reserved for male adults, but can still be used for "mankind" in general in Modern English. The word is from Proto-Germanic *mannaz, from a Proto-Indo-European (PIE) root *man-, cognate to Sanskrit manu-.
The generic name Homo is a learned 18th century derivation from Latin homō "man", ultimately "earthly being" (Old Latin hemō, cognate to Old English guma "man", from PIE *dʰǵʰemon-, meaning 'earth' or 'ground').