Where Lived: Evolved in Africa, now worldwide
When Lived: About 200,000 years ago to present
The species that you and all other living human beings on this planet belong to is Homo sapiens. During a time of dramatic climate change 200,000 years ago, Homo sapiens (modern humans) evolved in Africa. Like other early humans that were living at this time, they gathered and hunted food, and evolved behaviors that helped them respond to the challenges of survival in unstable environments.
Anatomically, modern humans can generally be characterized by the lighter build of their skeletons compared to earlier humans. Modern humans have very large brains, which vary in size from population to population and between males and females, but the average size is approximately 1300 cubic centimeters. Housing this big brain involved the reorganization of the skull into what is thought of as "modern" -- a thin-walled, high vaulted skull with a flat and near vertical forehead. Modern human faces also show much less (if any) of the heavy brow ridges and prognathism of other early humans. Our jaws are also less heavily developed, with smaller teeth.
Scientists sometimes use the term “anatomically modern Homo sapiens” to refer to members of our own species who lived during prehistoric times.
- Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, Human Origins Program: http://humanorigins.si.edu/evidence/human-fossils/species/homo-sapiens