The Name "Homo Sapiens"

Which scientist was responsible for naming the human species? And when did it happen?

The binomial nomenclature for animals was introduced by the Swedish naturalist Carolus Linneaus (Carl von Linne) in 1758 in the 10th edition of his Systema Naturae. I believe it was he who introduced the term Homo sapiens (“Homo”, which is the genus, is always capitalized, and “sapiens”, which is the species, is not capitalized, and the whole thing is always italicized.) Homo sapiens means “thinking man” in Latin.

And I believe old Carl used himself as the basis for the type description. :wink:

I’m not sure where, but I am pretty sure I’ve seen the nomenclature Homo sapiens sapiens. What’s this? I know some of the earlier humans were Homo erectus and Homo habilis. What was Neanderthal’s nom de etre?

Neandertal man was originally described as Homo neanderthalensis, as a separate species from Homo sapiens. Some paleoanthropologists contend that Neandertals weren’t different enough from modern humans to be considered specifically distinct, so call them a subspecies, Homo sapiens neanderthalensis. Modern humans then would become Homo sapiens sapiens, to distiguish them from Neanderthals.

Note that no subspecies are currently recognized among modern humans, so this designation is only relavant in a paleoanthropological context.

I think I might have read that 19th-century paleontologist E.D. Cope became the “type specimen” of H. sapiens? I’m not sure where, though.

IIRC, and I don’t feel like looking it up right now, Linneaus had Homo troglodytus (caveman) and Homo sylvestrus (the wild man of the woods) in his Systema Naturae (Big Book of All the Animals).

At least we have names ready for Morlocks and Sasquatches…

This site has this to say about Edward Drinker Cope:


According to this site Raquel Welch has also been proposed as a type specimen: