from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition
- n. The modern species of humans, the only extant species of the primate family Hominidae.
from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License
- proper n. A taxonomic species within the genus Homo — human.
- n. A specimen of the species Homo sapiens.
from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.
- n. the only surviving hominid; species to which modern man belongs; bipedal primate having language and ability to make and use complex tools; brain volume at least 1400 cc
As we trace the ancestry of modern Homo sapiens backwards, there must come a time when the difference from living people is sufficiently great to deserve a different specific name, say Homo ergaster.
It is easy to look at Mrs Ples and a modern Homo sapiens skull and say, yes, there is no doubt these two skulls belong in different genera.
Homo ergaster/erectus, of which we have many fossil specimens, is a very persuasive halfway link, no longer missing, between Homo sapiens today and Homo habilis two million years ago, which is in turn a beautiful link back to Australopithecus three million years ago, which, as we saw, could pretty well be described as an upright-walking chimpanzee.
We all recognize that Homo sapiens encompasses variation among individuals, but it is easy to forget that Cephalopterus ornatus, Panthera onca the jaguar, and other species routinely encompass variation too.
Many, for example, would speak of Homo neanderthalensis not Homo sapiens neanderthalensis, elevating Neanderthal man from sub-species to species status.
Concern with death and the dead, thus adumbrated by the practice of Neanderthal Man, finds more elaborate expression in the burial customs of Homo sapiens in the Upper Palaeolithic era (ca. 30,000-10,000 B.C.).
While the komodos rest and digest, the tourists lose interest and drift away, reconfirming still again the truth that Homo sapiens in general has the attention span of a cricket.
Sometimes there is an additional sub-specific name, which follows the specific name, as in, for example, Homo sapiens neanderthalensis.