sa·​pi·​ens | \ ˈsa-pē-ənz How to pronounce sapiens (audio) , ˈsā-, -ˌenz \

Definition of sapiens

: of, relating to, or being recent humans (Homo sapiens) as distinguished from various fossil hominids

Examples of sapiens in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Research published online today in Science has identified these sapiens-specific variants and homed in on one in particular that may have brought about a pivotal change in the way our brain develops. Kate Wong, Scientific American, "Neandertalized ‘Mini Brains’ Yield Clues to Modern Human Uniqueness," 11 Feb. 2021 In that case, an early H. sapiens woman likely interbred with a Neanderthal man more than 220,000 years ago and their descendants carried the modern mtDNA. Ann Gibbons, Science | AAAS, "How Neanderthals lost their Y chromosome," 24 Sep. 2020 Researchers say that in comparisons with Neanderthal and H. sapiens species, the dimensions of the fossil finger fell within the range of measures for ancient and modern humans -- not Neanderthals. Fox News, "Ancient Denisovan finger bone seen as surprisingly 'humanlike,' scientists say," 5 Sep. 2019 However, other high-altitude groups show different, uniquely H. sapiens adaptations. Bridget Alex, Discover Magazine, "The World Is Our Niche," 3 June 2019 Until this week, the earliest known fossils of Homo sapiens were about 200,000 years old. Annalee Newitz, Ars Technica, "300,000 year-old “early Homo sapiens” sparks debate over evolution," 11 June 2017 The remaining challenge, however, was to identify these fossils as clearly being Homo sapiens. Ben Panko, Smithsonian, "Humans Evolved 100,000 Years Earlier Than We Thought—But Mysteries Remain," 8 June 2017 Previous discoveries of early Homo sapiens fossils have been concentrated at sites in Ethiopia. Robert Lee Hotz, Fox News, "Scientists find oldest known specimens of the human species," 8 June 2017 The researchers say evidence suggests primitive forms of Homo sapiens had already widely spread throughout Africa by around 300,000 years ago. Malcolm Ritter, The Seattle Times, "This is us: Earliest fossils of our species have been found in Morocco," 7 June 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'sapiens.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of sapiens

1939, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for sapiens

New Latin (specific epithet of Homo sapiens), from Latin, present participle of sapere

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Time Traveler for sapiens

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The first known use of sapiens was in 1939

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Last Updated

18 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Sapiens.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Mar. 2021.

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Medical Definition of sapiens

— see homo sapiens

More from Merriam-Webster on sapiens

Britannica English: Translation of sapiens for Arabic Speakers

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