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Definition: hominids from The Hutchinson Dictionary of Scientific Biography

Subject: anthropology

Humans and their humanlike ape predecessors, which together constitute the family Hominidae.

Summary Article: hominid
From Encyclopedia of Environmental Change

Of the family Hominidae. The term Hominidae was previously used to refer only to humans and their immediate fossil or subfossil ancestors and although scientifically questionable, the term ‘hominid’ is still frequently applied in this narrower sense with the term hominoid reserved for the broader grouping. The Hominidae in fact comprise two subfamilies, the Ponginae and the Homininae. The Ponginae migrated into Asia and are now represented solely by the orangutan, whereas the Homininae are represented by chimpanzees and gorillas, as well as humans. This latter group remained in Africa, dividing again into African apes and the human lineage. Humans and their fossil ancestors are distinguished from other apes by larger brain sizes permitting complex communication such as speech, an upright bipedal gait and by a slow rate of postnatal growth and development, favouring the development of a more elaborate social organisation with concomitant complex technological and cultural behaviours.


[See also anatomically modern humans (amh), archaic humans, hominisation, human evolution, human migration: ‘out of africa’]

  • Bonnefille, R (2010) Cenozoic vegetation, climate changes and hominid evolution in tropical Africa. Global and Planetary Change 72: 390-411.
  • Cameron, DW (2004) Hominid adaptations and extinctions. Sydney: University of New South Wales Press.
  • Scally, A; Dutheil, JY; Hillier, LW et al. (2012) Insights into hominid evolution from the gorilla genome sequence. Nature 483: 169-175.
  • Spassov, N; Geraads, D; Hristova, L et al. (2012) A hominid tooth from Bulgaria: The last pre-human hominid of continental Europe. Journal of Human Evolution 62: 138-145.
Danielle C. Schreve
Royal Holloway, University of
© by SAGE Publications Ltd.

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