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Humans

Homo sapiens

Universe Real; present in multiple works of fiction
Homeworld Earth
Average Height 1.5 to 1.9 meters
Diet Omnivorous
Sapience Level Sapient

"'Homo sapiens; what an inventive, invincible species. It's only a few million years since they crawled up out of the mud and learned to walk. Puny, defenceless bipeds. They've survived flood, famine and plague. They've survived cosmic wars and holocausts. And now, here they are, out among the stars, waiting to begin a new life. Ready to outsit eternity. They're indomitable!"

The Doctor (The Ark in Space)

Humans (Homo sapiens) are a species of bipedal sapient mammals native to planet Earth. They are omnivorous and generally believed to have descended from arboreal ancestors.

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Biology EditEdit

Humans have an erect posture, with two legs, two arms and a head which comprises the brain and most of the sense organs. Extraterrestrial species showing this same body plan, or a very similar one, are collectively known as humanoids. Although some humanoid races look almost exactly like humans, as is the case with Vulcans, they are often very different internally. Vulcans, for example, have green blood containing copper, while the Human blood is red and contains iron.

Humans are carbon-based lifeforms, and have an internal skeleton containing calcium phosphate, which gives the bones strength and durability. More than 60% of the Human body is composed of liquid water. Their circulatory system is closed and they have a heart and two lungs (though they are able to survive with only one lung), located in the chest area.

Humans have two pairs of limbs, the lower pair adapted for bipedal walking (legs) and the upper for carrying (arms).

Human arms end in hands. Hand are intricate arrangements of five miniature limbs that can be used as grapples, tweezers, clusters of feelers, baskets or semaphore machines. (Aliens often mistake human hands for symbiotic lifeforms on first contact: hands appear to have four limbs and a head, like the main body of the human; the hands operate machinery and perform all the recognizably intelligent actions, and the hands attempt to communicate in some sort of interpretive dance.)

Humans balance vertically on their legs. Human knees bend backwards, unlike the knees of most bipeds. Human feet evolved from a second pair of hands, the feet can bear the human's weight, but cannot perform any of the actions of the true hands.

Despite having evolved as a predatory species, Humans are generally considered weak and not well adapted to hunt without the aid of tools. Their canine teeth, for example, are not sharp like those of their evolutionary relatives, the other Earth primates, and their fingers and toes have nails, rather than claws. They can, however throw objects with unusual strength and accuracy, and an athletic human is a tireless runner. A human following you with a rock is extremely dangerous.

TechnologyEditEdit

Human technology is largely based on fire, textiles, ceramics, refined metals and woodwork. Wood is rigid plant matter. Humans cultivate useful plants and "tame" animals. Taming is the control of non-intelligent animals by brainwashing and selective breeding. Humans use simple biochemistry to repair and regulate their bodies. It is very common for humans to use floating vehicles. Humans first priorities are weapons, the production of shelters, and the lighting of fires, to produce digestible food.

Humans extend their memories, communicate and perform mathematics by scratching and painting symbols onto objects. Advanced human civilisations begin with this practice. Humans' possessions and environments are often completely covered in these symbols. Humans record large bodies of knowledge in "books". Books are block-shaped objects made of hundreds of flaps: vast, hidden surface areas for symbols. however in the late 20th and early 21st centuries humans began to store information on computers

Advanced human technology includes: wheeled and flying vehicles; mining for metals and combustible minerals; organic chemistry (mostly the production of drugs, plastics and explosives); atomic fission; and a large variety of electromagnetic devices, including Von Neumann computers. Humans' use of biological machines does not extend beyond their taming technologies and experiments with microorganisms.

Human ExplorationEditEdit

Several human civilisations have brought humanity far forward in exploration.

As humanity began in Africa, the colonisation of the rest of the world was a form of exploration, as humans superseded the dominant predators of the new regions and adapted using technology to unknown environments. The watercraft was a very important development, as it allowed cultures such as the Polynesians to travel far from their point of origin.

However, the cultures that predominated between the first cities and the renaissance did very little exploration. The Vikings and Chinese are important exceptions, and the Phoenicians circumnavigated Africa under the command of the Pharaohs. Trade existed between the Far East and Europe firstly through Persia and then through the Muslim Empire.

Starting from approximately the year 1500, the Portugese, Dutch, Spanish, British and French nations began a rapid and ambitious program of exploration. They came across new cultures and continents, fostering trade links and creating colonies. However, soon afterwards a time of aggressive colonisation began, and the competing European nations began to try and subdue flourishing civilisations such as the Benin, Aztecs and many more. The countries taking part were always trying to get the edge over the others, and wars between them were common. It was also about this time that devices such as the telescope and chronometer were developed.

Importantly, North America was settled at this time. Soon after its colonisation, the War of Independence occurred. The United States emerged as a powerful country apart from Europe.

For the next few hundred years, the relative power of the British, French and Americans increased at the expense of other nations. The slave trade began, and people were displaced from their native countries to work elsewhere, usually in plantation run by European powers.

However, in the 20th century many colonies were granted independence, and soon very little of any empire was held. The World Wars, catastrophic for Europe, enabled the United States to become more powerful in comparison, due to its powerful industry and military. Aircraft appeared late in the 19th century, and allowed precise mapping and rapid travel around the world. The Soviet Union also gained power.

In 1957, the USSR launched its first space probe, Sputnik 1. This caused the Space Race between the USA and the USSR, which no other country could keep up with. Yuri Gagarin was the first man in space, in 1961.

In 1969, the USA landed two men on the Moon, the only country ever to do so.

WeaponryEditEdit

Human weaponry is mostly based on blades, explosives and "guns". Guns usually accelerate projectiles to supersonic speeds by setting off an explosion in a metal tube closed on one end. The momentum of the projectile damages the target. Although guns sound as likely to injure up the human as destroy the human's target (as early guns tended to) they are very reliable devices. Mankind has created many varieties, for different purposes. These include Machine Guns (high volume of fire), rifles (high accuracy and penetrative power), pistols (portability), SMGs (volume of fire), Assault Rifles (Different settings for different purposes), and shotguns (high stopping power). Cannons are large guns which fire explosive 'shells' or larger shot, but are usually too heavy to carry and require breech- or muzzle-loading. Explosives may also be launched, such as from a bazooka or RPG, or thrown as a grenade. Explosives can be used as traps, called 'mines', or dropped as 'bombs'.

Humans also mount guns. Guns may be mounted on turrets, fixed or carried on a ship. Aircraft, such as aeroplanes and helicopters, may mount these, usually heavy machine guns. Guns may be mounted on wheels, as seen in cannons and artillery. 'Tanks' are large tracked vehicles, usually bearing cannons.

Protection has become far harder to implement for humans as guns have developed, but modern kevlar or other body armour can stop low-power projectiles.

Exploves are also sometimes held within small rockets, named 'missiles'. Missiles can attain great speed and include technology to track their target. Missiles are quite bulky, so they tend to be mounted on ships or in 'submarines', large metal ships which go under the water, or on airplanes.

Humans build and store away nuclear fission and fusion bombs (which can be mounted in missiles or dropped from above) as a ritual threat, but are very unwilling to use them due to harmful side-effects. The only military uses of these weapons occurred during the second World War, over the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945.

Human AnatomyEditEdit

Main article: Human anatomy

Further information: Human physical appearance and Anatomically modern humans

Human body types vary substantially. Although body size is largely determined by genes, it is also significantly influenced by environmental factors such as diet andexercise. The average height of an adult human is about 1.5 to 1.8 m (5 to 6 feet) tall, although this varies significantly from place to place and depending on ethnic origin. The average mass of an adult human is 54–64 kg (120–140 lbs) for females and 76–83 kg (168–183 lbs) for males. Weight can also vary greatly (e.g. because of obesity). Unlike most other primates, humans are capable of fully bipedal locomotion, thus leaving their arms available for manipulating objects using their hands, aided especially by opposable thumbs. Although humans appear hairless compared to other primates, with notable hair growth occurring chiefly on the top of the head, underarms and pubic area, the average human has more hair follicles on his or her body than the average chimpanzee. The main distinction is that human hairs are shorter, finer, and less heavily pigmented than the average chimpanzee's, thus making them harder to see.

The hue of human skin and hair is determined by the presence of pigments called melanins. Human skin hues can range from very dark brown to very pale pink. Human hair ranges from white to brown and red, to most commonly black. This depends on the amount of melanin (an effective sun blocking pigment) in the skin and hair, with hair melanin concentrations in hair fading with increased age, leading to grey or even white hair. Most researchers believe that skin darkening was an adaptation that evolved as a protection against ultraviolet solar radiation. However, more recently it has been argued that particular skin colors are an adaptation to balance folate, which is destroyed by ultraviolet radiation, and vitamin D, which requires sunlight to form. The skin pigmentation of contemporary humans is geographically stratified, and in general correlates with the level of ultraviolet radiation. Human skin also has a capacity to darken (sun tanning) in response to exposure to ultraviolet radiation. Humans tend to be physically weaker than other similarly sized primates, with young, conditioned male humans having been shown to be unable to match the strength of female orangutans which are at least three times stronger.

The construction of the human pelvis differs from other primates, as do the toes. As a result, humans are slower for short distances than most other animals, but are among the best long-distance runners in the animal kingdom. Humans' thinner body hair and more productive sweat glands also helps avoid heat exhaustion while running for long distances. For this reason persistence hunting was most likely a very successful strategy for early humans – in this method, prey is chased until it is literally exhausted. This may have also helped the early human Cro-Magnon population out-compete the Neanderthal population for food. The otherwise physically stronger Neanderthal would have much greater difficulty hunting in this way, and much more likely hunted larger game in close quarters. A trade-off for these advantages of the modern human pelvis is that childbirth is more difficult and dangerous.

The construction of modern human shoulders enable throwing weapons, which also were much more difficult or even impossible for Neanderthal competitors to use effectively.

Constituents of the human body in a person weighing 60 kg[62]
Constituent Weight Percentage of atoms
Oxygen 38.8 kg 25.5 %
Carbon 10.9 kg 9.5 %
Hydrogen 6.0 kg 63.0 %
Nitrogen 1.9 kg 1.4 %
Other 2.4 kg 0.6 %

Humans have proportionately shorter palates and much smaller teeth than other primates. They are the only primates to have short, relatively flush canine teeth. Humans have characteristically crowded teeth, with gaps from lost teeth usually closing up quickly in young specimens. Humans are gradually losing their wisdom teeth, with some individuals having them congenitally absent.[63]

PhysiologyEditEdit

See also: Human physiology

Human physiology is the science of the mechanical, physical, and biochemical functions of humans in good health, their organs, and the cells of which they are composed. The principal level of focus of physiology is at the level of organs and systems. Most aspects of human physiology are closely homologous to corresponding aspects of animal physiology, and animal experimentation has provided much of the foundation of physiological knowledge. Anatomy and physiology are closely related fields of study: anatomy, the study of form, and physiology, the study of function, are intrinsically tied and are studied in tandem as part of a medical curriculum.

GeneticsEditEdit

See also: Human genetics

Humans are a eukaryotic species. Each diploid cell has two sets of 23 chromosomes, each set received from one parent. There are 22 pairs of autosomes and one pair of sex chromosomes. By present estimates, humans have approximately 20,000–25,000 genes. Like other mammals, humans have an XY sex-determination system, so that females have the sex chromosomes XX and males have XY. The X chromosome carries many genes not on the Y chromosome, which means that recessive diseases associated with X-linked genes, such as haemophilia, affect men more often than women.

Life cycleEditEdit

The human life cycle is similar to that of other placental mammals. The zygote divides inside the female's uterus to become an embryo, which over a period of thirty-eight weeks (9 months) of gestation becomes a fetus. After this span of time, the fully grown fetus is birthed from the woman's body and breathes independently as an infant for the first time. At this point, most modern cultures recognize the baby as a person entitled to the full protection of the law, though some jurisdictions extend various levels of personhood earlier to human fetuses while they remain in the uterus.

Compared with other species, human childbirth is dangerous. Painful labors lasting twenty-four hours or more are not uncommon and sometimes leads to the death of the mother, or the child. This is because of both the relatively large fetal head circumference (for housing the brain) and the mother's relatively narrow pelvis (a trait required for successful bipedalism, by way of natural selection). The chances of a successful labor increased significantly during the 20th century in wealthier countries with the advent of new medical technologies. In contrast, pregnancy and natural childbirth remain hazardous ordeals in developing regions of the world, with maternal death rates approximately 100 times more common than in developed countries.

In developed countries, infants are typically 3–4 kg (6–9 pounds) in weight and 50–60 cm (20–24 inches) in height at birth. However, low birth weight is common in developing countries, and contributes to the high levels of infant mortality in these regions. Helpless at birth, humans continue to grow for some years, typically reaching sexual maturity at 12 to 15 years of age. Females continue to develop physically until around the age of 18, whereas male development continues until around age 21. The human life span can be split into a number of stages: infancy, childhood, adolescence, young adulthood, adulthood and old age. The lengths of these stages, however, have varied across cultures and time periods. Compared to other primates, humans experience an unusually rapid growth spurt during adolescence, where the body grows 25% in size. Chimpanzees, for example, grow only 14%, with no pronounced spurt. The presence of the growth spurt is probably necessary to keep children physically small until they are psychologically mature. Humans are one of the few species in which females undergo menopause. It has been proposed that menopause increases a woman's overall reproductive success by allowing her to invest more time and resources in her existing offspring and/or their children (the grandmother hypothesis), rather than by continuing to bear children into old age.

There are significant differences in life expectancy around the world. The developed world is generally aging, with the median age around 40 years. In the developing world the median age is between 15 and 20 years. Life expectancy at birth in Hong Kong is 84.8 years for a female and 78.9 for a male, while in Swaziland, primarily because of AIDS, it is 31.3 years for both sexes. While one in five Europeans is 60 years of age or older, only one in twenty Africans is 60 years of age or older. The number of centenarians (humans of age 100 years or older) in the world was estimated by the United Nations at 210,000 in 2002. At least one person, Jeanne Calment, is known to have reached the age of 122 years; higher ages have been claimed but they are not well substantiated. Worldwide, there are 81 men aged 60 or older for every 100 women of that age group, and among the oldest, there are 53 men for every 100 women.

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