Science Dictionary
Homo erectus  [%PREMIUM_LINK%]     (hō'mō ĭ-rěk'təs)  Pronunciation Key 
An extinct species of humans that lived during the Pleistocene Epoch from about 1.6 million years ago to 250,000 years ago. Homo erectus is associated mainly with stone tools of the Acheulian culture and was the first species of humans to master fire, although this skill may not have been widely practiced until late in its existence. Its remains have been found in Africa, Europe, and Asia, and it is widely thought to be the direct ancestor of modern humans. ◇ The H. erectus remains from Africa are thought by some to evince significant differences in comparison to other H. erectus populations and thus to constitute a separate species called Homo ergaster. H. ergaster is sometimes further claimed to be the true ancestor of modern humans. The fossil evidence is not complete enough to definitively support these or many other claims concerning early Homo populations. See also pithecanthropus, sinanthropus.

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Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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