The hominids are the members of the biological family Hominidae referred to the group of great apes , including humans , chimpanzees , gorillas and orangutans . The exact criteria for being part of the hominin group are not yet clear, but the subfamily generally includes those species that share more than 97% of their DNA with the modern human genome , and that exhibit a capacity for language or communication . The theory of mind, which includes faculties such as the attribution of mental states , empathyand even empathic deception distinguishes the adult human from the hominids. Humans acquire this ability at around four and a half years of age, and gorillas and chimpanzees have not been proven or disproved to develop this theory.

What are hominids?

Hominids are all the primates ancestors of man that are characterized by maintaining an upright posture and by the ability to exercise bipedal locomotion .

  • Definition
  • Hominid characteristics
  • Classification
  • Where did hominids originate?
  • Evolution
  • Why did they adopt a bipedal position
  • What are the oldest hominids
  • How they lived
  • Culture
  • Fossils
  • Difference between primates and hominids
  • Importance
  • Examples of current hominids


The word hominids is related to the evolution that humans have had . We can say that a hominid is a primate that is characterized by walking vertically with its two legs . We can also define the word as members of the family Hominidae which includes the human being and his relatives more close as chimpanzees, orangutans and gorillas.

Hominid characteristics

The main characteristics that we can observe in hominids are the following:

  • They are bipedal and this is the main characteristic that represents them.
  • Its origin was in the African plains .
  • They have the ability to form social networks , clans and groups of greater complexity than the family nucleus.
  • Most of them are omnivores .
  • They have a functional development of the hands and also have a shortening of the arms compared to other apes.
  • They present a development of the brain and cranial capacity .
  • Your teeth come together as the jaw shrinks, over time, the teeth will also shrink.


  • Ardipithecus ramidus : This type is the most unknown and is the oldest of our bipedal ancestors. Its best known representative is Ardi , from which a large part of his remains has been recovered. He walked on his legs with some anatomical difficulties that prevented him from having a high capacity for movement . They had dentition similar to that of apes, but smaller. They were small and sexually dimorphic .
  • Australopithecus anamensis : it was a hominid with characteristics similar to those of apes . Its diet was not only fruit but it was possibly omnivorous . They had a robust jaw with long incisors and canines.
  • Australopithecus afarensis : its best known member was Lucy . The cranial capacity had a size similar to that of a current chimpanzee but its body was smaller. They were bipedal and adapted to tree life . It is believed that their diet was mainly fruit, since their teeth were not suitable for the consumption of meat.
  • Homo habilis: it  is the first representative of the genus Homo , it is characterized by the presence of rounded skulls with a certain prognathism . They were small, and it is believed that they were the first to use tools on a regular basis.
  • Homo erectus : his bones were thicker and his cranial capacity was superior to those of his ancestors, his pelvis resembles the current human being. They are associated with the beginning of the domain of fire and the making of the first double-sided leaves . They were nomadic and sociable hunters , cooperating with other groups to hunt.
  • Homo antecessor : it is characterized by being the first European species . Physically, they were graceful and had facial features similar to those of Homo sapiens . Its height is higher than that of other species, reaching one meter eighty. It is considered as the ancestor of the Neanderthal and practiced cannibalism .
  • Homo neanderthalensis : It was the last species to go extinct and the exact reasons are not yet known. The Neanderthals were a species adapted to the climate of a Europe glacial . They had prominent brow ridges, their foreheads somewhat flattened than humans, and their skulls slightly projected backward. They were extremely strong , had advanced cultural elements , cared for the elderly and infirm, and their tools were quite developed despite being seemingly simple.
  • Homo sapiens : this is the species of the human being . Modern humans showed a great facility to conquer all kinds of ecosystems . The first constructions created were probably the work of our species, and the cave paintings appear with this group. They appeared in Africa , migrating first to Asia and then to Europe .

Where did hominids originate?

Scientific evidence proves that hominids originated on the African continent , specifically in the eastern region of the continent, since it is in this place where most of the fossils have been found .


The term evolution refers to the development and unfolding from one state to another. This same meaning applies in biological evolution . The human being is subject to evolutionary mechanisms and hominization is the evolutionary process started approximately four million years ago that resulted in the human species . In evolution, a series of anatomical , mental and cultural changes occurred . With these there was the search march, a greater volume of the skull, and a decrease in the protruding jaw. Between psychic evolutionwe can mention the appearance of rationality, intelligence, language and other instinctive behaviors. There was also the cultural evolution of artistic and mythical manifestations.

Why did they adopt a bipedal position

Initially, the hominids lived in forest areas on the trees, but with the passage of time, there were changes in the ecosystems and the primates had to change their habitat to search for new resources . They went from the trees to the African savannah and this involved a series of changes. Bipedal basically took the position that they were able to observe more clearly the sources of food and because they consumed less amount of energy . With bipedalism they managed to reduce energy efforts , favored growthand brain stimulation .

What are the oldest hominids

The oldest hominin that existed was Australopithecus afarensis , which is estimated to be four million years old. The most important data are found in numerous bones found several years ago that belonged to the same individual, who was called Lucy . Her pelvis and teeth reveal that she was a woman in her 20s . The anatomy of his pelvis had acquired the bipedal posture like that of man.

How they lived

Hominids had two main ecological patterns to inhabit and develop their behaviors. One was in floodplains and streams , and the other was in open spaces like savannas . They lived on the crops of vegetables and fruits , they also practiced hunting small animals although with the passage of time they learned to hunt larger animals. Some researchers assure that they lived in Paleolithic societies composed of small nomadic groups where the members of the clan performed differently.functions that were summarized in a common goal: to  survive .


In terms of culture, hominids developed little by little the moment they began to use their feet to walk. With their development, their culture also advanced , even practicing ceremonies such as funerals, they took care of their sick and their tools began to develop more and more. His language, although not fully developed, was based on the articulation of a series of sounds with the mouth and the pharynx . Some time later they began to build and the first cave paintings also emerged .


Fossil hominids are the ancestors of our current species. Some of the fossils that have been found have been:

  • Australopithecus – This is the oldest known. In 1925, paleontologist Raymond Dart discovered the skull of an Australopithecus in Taung , southern Africa . Other Australopithecus species (afarensis, africanus, robustus, boisei) were also found near the site, confirming the origin of man in Africa .
  • Maba’s skull , found in the Chinese province of Guandong in the 1950s. The face of this individual has similar features to Neanderthals but with an older and less specialized brain shape , as in Homo erectus.
  • Australopithecus anamensis : its fossil was found in 1995 in two different strata on the west coast of Lake Turkana , in Kenya .
  • Australopithecus africanus : the best known fossil is ” the Taung boy “ , found in 1925 by Raymond Dart in a quarry of calcareous rocks that were exploited to obtain cement and lime in South Africa.

Difference between primates and hominids

There are many differences that exist between primates and hominids, some of them are:

  • Hominids live an average of 80 years while primates 40 years .
  • The young of primates stay with their parents for a short time, while in hominids the children spend many years close to their parents.
  • The gestation period in primates is five and a half months, in hominids it is nine months.
  • Primates have their thumb opposite to the rest of the fingers of the hand, in hominids, this feature disappeared.
  • Primates have a type of binocular vision and hominids have stereoscopic vision because their eyes are on the same plane.
  • The brain development of hominids has been much greater than that of primates.


Hominids have a special importance because they are the basis for knowing and obtaining information about the life that our ancestors led . It is through them that today we know part of the development of life, and how they evolved to get to what we are today.

Examples of current hominids

  • Gorilla
  • Bornean orangutan
  • Chimpanzee
  • Men

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