The term Hominid is a reduction of the term Hominidae and refers to all of the fossil and living bipedal apes including the Australopithecines, fossil members of the genus Homo and living humans. For a more detailed discussion of its use in modern science refer to Hominin.
The taxonomic classification of humans
In the traditional Linnaean system of classification humans are categorized as firstly Animalia, then Chordata because humans have a backbone; Mammalia because humans have hair and suckle their young; Primates because humans share with apes, monkeys and lemurs certain morphological characters; Hominidae because, among a few other criteria, humans are separated from the other apes by being bipedal; Homo being our generic classification as human; and finally sapiens a species name meaning, rightly or wrongly, “wise”. The Linnaean system also recognizes such groupings as “Superfamilies” and “Subfamilies” and in the case of the human lineage, the most often recognized superfamily is the Hominoidea (hominoids) which includes all of the living apes.
The traditional view of scientists has been to recognize three families of hominoid: the Hylobatidae, the Hominidae and the Pongidae. The Hylobatidae includes the so-called lesser apes of Asia - the gibbons and siamangs. The Hominidae includes living humans and typically fossil apes that possess a suite of characters such as bipedalism, reduced canine size and increasing brain size such as the australopithecines. The Pongidae includes the remaining African great apes and the orang-utan recognizing this groups “ape-ness” in being large-bodied, quadrupedal, arboreal primates.
- L.R. Berger (2001). Is it time to revise the system of scientific naming. National Geographic. Retrieved on 2007-08-10.