A number of species, of which only Australopithecus afarensis, Homo habilis, and Homo erectus are shown here, are thought to represent evolutionary links between modern humans and the more ancient species that was the common ancestor of chimpanzees, bonobos (a close relative of chimpanzees), and modern humans. Other closely related species on the human side of the family tree are known from the fossil record. Paranthropus robustus and Neanderthals are extinct evolutionary lineages now represented only by fossils.

Evidence shows that anatomically modern humans (Homo sapiens —“wise” or “knowing man”) with bodies and brains like ours, evolved in Africa from earlier forms of humans. The earliest known fossil of a modern human is less than 200,000 years old. The members of this group dispersed throughout Africa and, more recently, into Asia, Australia, Europe, and the Americas, replacing earlier populations of humans then living in some parts of the world.

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