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Extinct species of early hominin, perhaps a direct ancestor of human beings (Homo sapiens). Homo erectus flourished from c. 1,700,000 to 200,000 years ago, ranging widely from Africa (where the species probably originated) to Asia to parts of Europe. Most of the anatomical differences between H. erectus and H. sapiens concern the skull and teeth, H. erectus showing a low, thick braincase (800–1,100 cc) with jutting browridges and a wide nose, palate, and jaw together with large teeth that are nevertheless hominin and not apelike. The limb bones are similar to those of H. sapiens, indicating that H. erectus was of medium stature and walked upright. The species is associated with the Acheulean tool tradition and was the first hominin to master fire and inhabit caves. See alsohuman evolution; Java man; Zhoukoudian.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on Homo erectus, visit Britannica.com.
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