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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Q: Why does the Human article use the third person? Aren't we humans?
A: The third person ("Humans are..." or "They are..." as opposed to "We are...") is simply the conventional mode of writing for Wikipedia and other reference works. We realize this may cause some phrases in Human to sound quite strange — "a majority of humans professes some variety of religious or spiritual belief" sounds almost like it was written by space aliens. However, the occasional strangeness this approach may lead to is still preferable to the alternative of inconsistency.
If we were to use "we" in the Human article, it would mean sometimes switching strangely between persons as we narrow our topic of discussion. For example, even if an editor were female, she would be forced to write things like "We humans, and especially those females...." Whenever a subgroup of humanity became the article's focus, we would need to switch to the third person; a sentence about humans would use "we", but a sentence about adults, Asians, engineers, or heterosexuals would need to use "they". It is far simpler to just consistently use the third person in all contexts, even if this doesn't always seem completely natural.
A related issue is the fact that, as a general rule, Wikipedia prefers to avoid self-references. In addition to being human, all editors on this site happen to be English speakers — yet we treat our article on the English language the same way we treat every other language article, in order to avoid bias and inconsistency. Likewise, we treat Wikipedia the same as other websites and reference tools. Analogously, we ought to aspire to treat Human in much the same way that we treat every other species article. Ideally, we should make exceptions of Human only where objective, verifiable facts demand that we make exceptions (e.g., in employing a lengthy culture section). This is the simplest and easiest way to avoid bias and to prevent editorial disputes: When in doubt, follow the rest of Wikipedia's lead.
Another method some editors use to help maintain a neutral point of view is to imagine being an extraterrestrial writing about a strange species called "human". How would your perspective be different?

Q: Aren't humans supposed to be purely herbivorous/frugivorous despite our modern omnivorous habits? Aren't we jungle apes albeit highly intelligent and largely furless jungle apes? Most jungle apes eat no meat or very little.
A: No, we really are natural omnivores. Contrary to popular belief, we humans did not evolve in jungles. We actually evolved on open grasslands where fruit-bearing trees are nowhere near as plentiful as in the jungle, where most of our surviving close relatives evolved. Evolving in such a place, we would have always (for as long as we've been humans rather than Australopithecines and other even earlier fossilized genera) had to supplement our diet with meat in addition to plant material. We evolved also eating plant-derived foods to be sure; the Savannah (grassland) has some trees with edible fruit although comparatively few and far between, and grain-bearing grasses are far more plentiful there than any tree. (Some evidence suggests that the first bread and beer were made from these tropical grains long before recorded history.) Even so, the grassland being much less fruit-rich than the jungle caused us to evolve as true metabolic omnivores, not pure herbivores/frugivores. See the Archived Debates on this subtopic for source documents.
Former featured article Human is a former featured article. Please see the links under Article milestones below for its original nomination page (for older articles, check the nomination archive) and why it was removed.
Former good article Human was one of the Natural sciences good articles, but it has been removed from the list. There are suggestions below for improving the article to meet the good article criteria. Once these issues have been addressed, the article can be renominated. Editors may also seek a reassessment of the decision if they believe there was a mistake.

Biotic Dispersal Vector[edit]

pretty sure we have the largest impact on biological dispersal when compared with every other species on the planet. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 2601:7:1A00:6EF:3CA5:C12A:D776:E202 (talk) 10:45, 3 May 2014 (UTC)

Former Featured Article[edit]

This article is extremely important. Here's a thread for collaborators so we can get it featured (or at least good).
First and foremost, what do you think can be improved?
Humans, unite! monochrome_monitor 20:10, 21 March 2014 (UTC)

Add sections on farming, hunting and migration. These are as old as humans themselves. (talk) 21:53, 20 April 2014 (UTC) answer

Why does this article exist?[edit]

I've been paying attention to this article for a few years now and it's no good. At most this is a bias roundup of other articles. Those articles are fine, but there is nothing of objective value here. Every section is just a poorly written summary of a better main article. Why is a conservative status included? How is that in any way professional? It's funny, a joke at most.
I think we should seriously consider getting rid of this article and replacing it with the disambiguation list linking to all the other main articles. What is the value of having an article like this? It's jsut a bunch of partial facts sprinkled with the occasional egotism.
This article is poorly realized and suffers from intrinsic bias. I think the only way to avoid this is to write from the perspective of an intelligent being, not being human, or just get rid of it totally. Llehsadam (talk) 10:43, 29 March 2014 (UTC)

Llehsadam, there's no way this article will be deleted. It would be helpful if you actually gave examples of what is poorly written and what is biased. --NeilN talk to me 13:58, 29 March 2014 (UTC)
If it's not obvious then we should start with getting rid of the conservation status. It's argumentum ab auctoritate coming from the IUCN and doesn't actually contribute to anything. It takes away from the article.. well, that's not entirely true. It does add irony if we're lucky. Llehsadam (talk) 20:28, 29 March 2014 (UTC)

In short, I think the article should have a status like the Humanity article and it should be removed for similar reasons as presented there. Llehsadam (talk) 20:39, 29 March 2014 (UTC)

If someone is looking for Humans as a species, a much better article can be found under Homo sapiens sapiens and if they are looking for any other aspect of humans, they should be redirected to one of the many "see also" links listed here. If someone is looking for the human condition, then they go to the Human condition. This article is just a haphazard collection of interesting tidbits from all the other articles, organized in some arbitrary fashion that tries to define humans as an animal with taxonomy used for animals created in a time we didn't consider ourselves animals. Doesn't anyone realize how ridiculous that is? Llehsadam (talk) 20:54, 29 March 2014 (UTC)
Since the last time you were here in 2008 with the same argument we have written Wikipedia:General overview article so people can understand why articles like this are here. On a side note.... Discovery for kids - Are humans considered animals?-- Moxy (talk) 21:13, 29 March 2014 (UTC)
Wow, thanks for the link. General overview article? It's more like a bad duplicate that tries too hard. If you want to examine the human as an animal go to Homo sapiens sapiens, if you want to know more about the "human aspect" then go to those pages. This article starts by catagorizing humans (rightfully) as animals but then goes on to describe them in ways that would put any taxonomist to shame. The way this article is going, it'll soon have to have a section about space travel, a list of famous humans, more pictures because these hardly showcase the taxon, corporations, expanded sections about language, and some anecdote to global warming. Llehsadam (talk) 21:29, 29 March 2014 (UTC)
You are aware the article is here to help people find the topics you are referring as all may not be aware of the terms. A grade 7 student may not be aware of what is what ...thus this article is here to help direct people to the main topics on humans. What do you think we can do to fix the article since it will never be deleted as its the norm as see at human being -- Encyclopedia Britannica. -- Moxy (talk) 21:38, 29 March 2014 (UTC)
This article exists for those lesser members of the human race whose sadly inadequate literary skills and knowledge don't enable them to instantly comprehend wording like "argumentum ab auctoritate coming from the IUCN". That includes me. HiLo48 (talk) 22:25, 29 March 2014 (UTC)
Good to know I was not the only one that had to look up a few terms LOL - To quote a help page - that I think is a applicable to talk pages as-well "Although you should use a broad vocabulary, do not provide such a quantity of locutions as to impel those who aspire to derive serviceable information from the article to consult a dictionary or thesaurus" . -- Moxy (talk) 22:39, 29 March 2014 (UTC)
That's okay, but it should still be gone. The IUCN had to give humans a conservation status because we are living things and they try to rate everything, but that alone does not make the information about the conservation status of humans at all important. Why is this information relevant at all? I understand why it's there for the common chimpanzee or even the Eastern gray squirrel and the authors of those articles understand that as well by actually explaining why the species are where they are on the conservation list. If this article is going to offer the little bar, the reasoning behind the status (as provided by the IUCN) should also be provided somewhere. But you know, in the case of humans, things like global warming, wars, and famine could be considered when writing up our own conservation status but that's not the job of the IUCN. They do not concern themselves with humans, they concern themselves with living things in danger because of humans and only included humans on the list to make a point that we are animals too. Their rating however, can be ignored because it is of something their criteria were never designed to rate. Llehsadam (talk) 07:13, 30 March 2014 (UTC)
A 7th grader may get the wrong idea when only seeing the conservation status of humans as what the IUCN decided. They may believe this to be a dismissal of all danger that we made for ourselves. If you notice, the Britannica article you linked to is short, written in a professional tone and does not include a conservation status. For more information it links to Homo sapiens which is the equivalent to Wikipedia's Homo sapiens sapiens.Llehsadam (talk) 07:27, 30 March 2014 (UTC)
Llehsadam, I agree with you. Applying conservation status to humans is an absurdity at best and potentially far worse. Martin Hogbin (talk) 17:15, 30 March 2014 (UTC)

First of all, the conservation status is not prominent to the reader. It's just a footnote, so I don't see what it has to do with whether this article should exist, so this conversation is off-topic and so probably this thread should be split off under a different heading.
Second, the issue of the conservation status has been discussed before. The argument against it was as I recall that having it makes the article looks silly because it's strange to assign a conservation status to this species for various reasons including the fact that assigning a conservation status to this species strains the definition of the word "conservation", which is a philosophy that protecting non-humans species, not humans.
The reason we kept it as I recall included the fact that we always include conservation status for every species that has been assessed and so we'd have to have a very good reason to violate such long-standing practice. Also, it was denied that everyone already knows that experts have assessed this species and assigned it a conservation status, or that including this information in the article does not benefit the reader. The meaning of including the conservation statue is experts looked in the matter of the long term survival of this species and given it a thumbs up, so anyone who might think that we are digging our own graves through pollution and global warming and ozone depletion and pesticide use and nuclear power on and on that some people do seem to believe that there is reason to worry but actually we've been assessed by experts and there's nothing to worry about in terms of us going on and on into the future. It's nice to know for the reader.
It's in the sources; it's what sources say, so we say the same. We have indeed been assessed this conservation status. Ours is to report, so unless it's very clear that few or any of the readers would benefit from learning that our species has been assessed and given a clean bill of health would not benefit from including this information in such a non-intrusive way, why remove it.
Finally, in conclusion from looking at these for a pattern in these threads about the conservation status, this is how it seemed to me. It tends to be resorted to by users who don't believe in the existence of this article, and are casting about for criticisms that could justify its destruction. If it seems best to remove the conservation status, I can understand that, see it from their point of view. It has nothing to do, however, with the very existence of this article, and so bringing it in that context weakens pro-deletion arguments instead of strengthening them. Chrisrus (talk) 19:14, 30 March 2014 (UTC)
I personally have nothing against this article existing, only against the classification of humanity as 'least concern'. Martin Hogbin (talk) 22:31, 30 March 2014 (UTC)
You are right. I apologize for seeming to imply that all opposition to including the conservation was so motivated. Martin just thought it detracted from the quality of the article. Chrisrus (talk) 04:48, 31 March 2014 (UTC)
The article is meant to answer the question "what is a human?" not "what are the taxonomical origins of a human?". Space travel doesn't define what a human is. It is one of their achievements. Humans are more than just a taxonomical definition of homo sapiens sapiens. The article aims to answer the question of what a human is just like an article on any animal (like gorillas) do. (talk) 22:01, 20 April 2014 (UTC)answer

Language isn't unique to Humans.[edit]

I think we should take the "Unique" in this sentence and replace it with something more fitting, since there's a Gorilla who can talk with Sign Language, and understand just about 2,000 words.

"While many species communicate, language is unique to humans, a defining feature of humanity, and a cultural universal."

Koko the Gorilla//

--Wilddog73 (talk) 08:32, 23 May 2014 (UTC)

There is considerable debate if Koko is in fact using language as humans use it. --NeilN talk to me 12:04, 23 May 2014 (UTC)
But no debate as to whether she's using it. (talk) 06:01, 30 July 2014 (UTC)
She uses signs to communicate - whether it is 'language' is however the subject of debate. AndyTheGrump (talk) 06:10, 30 July 2014 (UTC)
Even if Koko were using language which I think there is a very broad consensus that she isnøt then language would still be unique to humans, cause no non-humans have learned it except through deliberate effort by humans to teach it to them. No Non-humans develop langauge naturally.User:Maunus ·ʍaunus·snunɐw· 17:46, 30 July 2014 (UTC)
Please watch this,, the point where he begins to debunk the Patterson's claims about Koko specifically starts at about 1:28:00. While laypeople generally believe Koko uses sign language, experts do not. Chrisrus (talk) 13:15, 10 August 2014 (UTC)
Talking of language, this argument seems to something of a semantic one to me. If we define 'language' as the form of communication used by humans (which is a fairly nautural definition) then it would seem that no other animals use language because all other animals communicate by means that are significantly different, in several fundamental ways, from the way that humans communicate when using language.
On the other hand, we have extended the meaning of the word 'language from its root meaning of 'spoken communication' to include other forms of communication, such as sign language. It could be argued that the meaning of the word word could be extended further to include some forms of non-human animal communication.
Regarding the article, why do we not just stick to the facts? Humans use forms of communication that are vastly more complex that those used by any other animal. What exactly we choose to define as language is another matter. Martin Hogbin (talk) 08:17, 11 August 2014 (UTC)
Human sign language is the same as human spoken language for this purpose. There is no discussion on this. The question is whether animal communication can reach the complexity of human language, spoken, signed or written - and there is a general consensus that they can't. There his however an unfortunate tendency among layfolk to think that if animals can reproduce any sign from a human communication system then they are using language which is of course silly, since then a tape recorder would also be able to do it. The article as it is faithfully reflect the mainstream literature and there is no reason to change it.User:Maunus ·ʍaunus·snunɐw· 14:54, 11 August 2014 (UTC)
You're right, whenever we link to language, we say that it means a specifically human system of communication. I'd just thought it might be helpful to stop and think about why that is: as far as we know, only humans have true language, but that's not why other forms of communication are not language. There might be other species that have (a modality-independent cognitive ability to learn and use systems of complex grammar rules to produce utterances combining semiosic items to relate signs with particular meanings via productivity, recursivity, and displacement), and so on. In fact, there are precedents in other species for language-like communication systems among certain social animals: prairie dog, honeybees. Furthermore, reason seems to dictate that, given the amount of "goldilocks zone" planets that there seem to be, and the time scales of the universe, that language must have evolved elsewhere somewhere somewhen. At least that can't be rationally ruled out: just because aliens aren't human doesn't mean they can't have language. So language is not really defined by it being a human trait; it's in part the other way around: language is part of what it means to be human. Chrisrus (talk) 17:13, 11 August 2014 (UTC)
You're right, whenever we link to language, we say that it means a specifically human system of communication. I'd just thought it might be helpful to stop and think about why that is: as far as we know, only humans have true language, but that's not why other forms of communication are not language. There might be other species that have (a modality-independent cognitive ability to learn and use systems of complex rules to produce utterances combining semiosic items to relate signs with particular meanings via productivity, recursivity, and displacement, and so on). In fact, there are precedents in other species for language-like communication systems among certain social animals: prairie dog, honeybees. In fact, reason seems to dictate that, given the amount of "goldilocks zone" planets that there seem to be, and the time scales of the universe, that language must have evolved elsewhere somewhere somewhen. But even if not, language is not really defined by this species. It's defined by a huge qualitative difference between it and other communication systems found among people and other animals. Chrisrus (talk) 15:16, 11 August 2014 (UTC)
I did not express myself very well. The dictionary definition of the word language varies from the strict interpretation of 'human speech', which clealy is limitd to humans, to the much broader interpretation of 'sound snd signals used by animals to communicate', which clearly is not limited to humans. To say that language is unique to humans is therefore meaningless. Martin Hogbin (talk) 16:49, 11 August 2014 (UTC)
Yes, there is a problem with the use of the word "language". People often mean specifically language but the also often language. That's why the article uses the wording "While many animals communicate, only humans have language." That improvement to the article resulted from this same discussion some time ago. It should be clear now which definition of "language" we are using, so thanks are in order to everyone who had already talked about this problem of two definitions of "language" here several times before and got that part of the article fixed already, we thought. But go ahead, and let's look at improving that even further. If I see something I can do to make it even clearer I'll leave an edit summary link to this thread. I invite any readers to do the same. Chrisrus (talk) 18:21, 11 August 2014 (UTC)
I think that if we want to say something meaninful we should use some of the terms used by Patterson in the video about human language. Martin Hogbin (talk) 22:15, 11 August 2014 (UTC)
It woud be highly problematic to change the current wording based on editor's own musings and dictionary definitions or a video by Patterson without first reviewing the literature about language, and the differences between animal communication and language.User:Maunus ·ʍaunus·snunɐw· 00:13, 12 August 2014 (UTC)

Semi-protected edit request on 6 July 2014[edit]

Change the conservation status of humans. In the definition section of the conservation status Wikipedia dictates we have no concerns about ourselves on the wild. We don't live in the wild. The only things keeping us in the wild are camping, hunting and some people who live away from modern times. We are almost extinct in the wild. (talk) 21:08, 6 July 2014 (UTC)

The section says nothing about 'in the wild'. Though frankly I think it is ridiculous to include a conservation status at all. AndyTheGrump (talk) 21:39, 6 July 2014 (UTC)
"The Wild" doesn't need to refer to forests, or fields. To me, the wild is any place which is not captivity. Using that definition, only Convicts are actually not in the wild. Either way, I don't know of any major international or national organization which has attempted to classify Homo Sapiens as at risk or of least concern. All of that said, I do agree that we are at risk, only by our own actions, however, and we certainly are not "critically endangered" by any means. Not yet, at least... All of that said, I've marked this as answered. Two users have replied and agree that it doesnot need a conservation status. If has an issue with this, feel free to post on my talk page. m8e39 06:23, 7 July 2014 (UTC)
I agree with Andy. It is not only ridiculous but offensive to give humans a conservation status. I think we should remove it. Martin Hogbin (talk) 17:30, 11 August 2014 (UTC)
You are asking for an exception to made to the taxobox in this particular case that the authorities on this matter did not choose to make. Here on Wikipedia, every taxon, in this case Homo sapiens but there are countless others, which has been assessed a conservation status by the proper authorities, any such taxon is supposed to have it put in their taxobox. Your logic about how the word "in the wild/captivity" not really applying to human beings, that's interesting and all, but you should address it to the authorities who decided to assign a Conservation Status to this species, don't you think? I mean, we're just dutifully passing on this information to the reader in a routine way. Besides, I don't think its ridiculous despite your points. I personally benefited from learning that fact from this article. For me, it was interesting and nice for me to learn that the proper experts have given us a clean bill of health, if you will. You hear people talk a lot about how maybe we're "digging our own graves" with all our polluting and such, and you can reply "well, experts say that we're in no danger of that for the foreseeable future" and hand them that citation. So that's another possible reader benefit it may have. So why you may find it "ridiculous" to assign us one, that doesn't have to be true for everyone. And I don't understand why anyone would find it "offensive", but the fact that someone might find something offensive has never been grounds to remove anything from Wikipedia. Chrisrus (talk) 18:41, 11 August 2014 (UTC)