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Hobbit-like Human
APRIL 2005
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Evolutionary Highway
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In Learn More the National Geographic magazine team shares some of its best sources and other information to expand your knowledge of our featured subjects. Special thanks to the Research Division.

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 Did You Know?  
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Did You Know?Did You Know?

If you've read much about human evolution in our magazine, or elsewhere, you're accustomed to seeing the term "hominid."  Now, taking our cue from the experts, we're using a new term—"hominin." Why the change?  Scientists used to group all of the great apes into one family, Pongidae, and humans and their ancestors into another family, Hominidae—the hominids. But studies of DNA, which reveal a close relationship between chimpanzees and humans, have led researchers to put all apes and humans into one big family—again called the Hominidae. Thus, they are now all considered hominids. In this new scheme, orangutans and gorillas each get their own subfamily, while chimpanzees together with humans and their ancestors go into a third subfamily, Homininae. So how to refer specifically to humans and extinct relatives such as the 3.2-million-year-old Lucy? They are now hominins, after the tribe Hominini, which now includes the australopiths (the new term for australopithecines, like Lucy) and the genus Homo. (See Field Notes from photographer Kenneth Garrett)
—Alice J. Dunn

Related Links

The Smithsonian Institution Human Origins Program
Learn more about human ancestors at this informative website, where you can visit the Hall of Human Ancestors, read FAQ's about paleoanthropology, or ask a researcher your own question.


Brown, P., and others. "A New Small-Bodied Hominin From the Late Pleistocene of Flores, Indonesia." Nature (October 28, 2004), 1055.
Dalton, Rex. "Little Lady of Flores Forces Rethink of Human Evolution." Nature (October 28, 2004), 1029.
Delson, Eric, and others, eds. Encyclopedia of Human Evolution and Prehistory. Garland Publishing Inc., 2000.
Jurmain, Robert, and others. Introduction to Physical Anthropology, 10th ed. Wadsworth, 2005.
Lahr, Marta Mirazon, and Robert Foley. "Human Evolution Writ Small." Nature (October 28, 2004), 1043.
Morwood, M. J., and others. "Archaeology and Age of a New Hominin from Flores in Eastern Indonesia." Nature (October 28, 2004), 1087.
Roberts, Richard. "Could 'Hobbit' Species Still Exist?" The Telegraph, October 27, 2004.

NGS Resources

Gore, Rick. "Georgian Skull." National Geographic (August 2002).
Gore, Rick. "
The Dawn of Humans: Who Were the First Americans?" National Geographic (December 2000), 40-67.
Gore, Rick. "The Dawn of Humans: People Like Us." National Geographic (July 2000), 90-117.
Keyser, Andre. "The Dawn of Humans: New Finds in South Africa." National Geographic (May 2000), 76-83.
Berger, Lee R. In the Footsteps of Eve: The Mystery of Human Origins. National Geographic Books, 2000.
Berger, Lee. "The Dawn of Humans: Redrawing Our Family Tree." National Geographic (August 1998), 90-9.
Gore, Rick. "The Most Ancient Americans." National Geographic (October 1997), 92-9.
Gore, Rick. "The Dawn of Humans: Tracking the First of Our Kind." National Geographic (September 1997), 92-9.
Gore, Rick. "The Dawn of Humans: The First Europeans." National Geographic (July 1997), 96-113.
Gore, Rick. "The Dawn of Humans: Expanding Worlds." National Geographic (May 1997), 84-109.
Gore, Rick. "The Dawn of Humans: The First Steps." National Geographic (February 1997), 72-99.
Johanson, Donald C. "The Dawn of Humans: Face-to-Face with Lucy's Family." National Geographic (March 1996), 96-117.
Gore, Rick. "The Dawn of Humans: Neanderthals." National Geographic (January 1996), 2-35.
Leakey, Meave. "The Dawn of Humans: The Farthest Horizon." National Geographic (September 1995), 38-51.
Weaver, Kenneth. "The Search for Our Ancestors: Stones, Bones, and Early Man." National Geographic (November 1985), 560-623.
Green, Michael. "Adventure in Indonesia." National Geographic World (January 1984), 3-9.
Morton, W. Brown. "Indonesia Rescues Ancient Borobudur." National Geographic (January 1983), 126-42.
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