The tribe Hominini comprises recent humans, extinct ancestral forms, and chimpanzees. Humans and chimpanzees are closely related. In phylogenetics, human and chimpanzee genes are 97% identical. These species have simple cultures, language, and the concept of mind. It is unclear whether these traits are acquired by infants or developed later.
The origin of the hominins is uncertain, but it is known that they originated from East Africa and South Africa. Bipedalism is a crucial feature of hominins, allowing the hands to be free for other activities. Three hominid species are known from this region: Australopithecus, Sahelanthropus, and Ardipithecus. Each of these species lived between 4.2.4 million years ago.
In recent years, the term ‘hominid’ has been given a broader meaning. It is now used to describe all Great Apes. This new terminology has been adopted in many scientific journals, but many internet sites and texts still use the old terminology. Hence, it is important for students to know about the different meanings of the word.
The oldest known hominid has been named S. tchadensis. This fossil was discovered in Chad, Central Africa, and has been dated at about six million years ago. It has an almost complete cranium, and it is thought to be as large as a female chimpanzee. It was bipedal and adapted to tree climbing. Its limb bones were shaped like those of chimpanzees.