Courses for Kids
Free study material
Free LIVE classes

Homo Erectus

What is Homo Erectus?

Last updated date: 22nd Mar 2023
Total views: 78.6k
Views today: 0.55k

Homo erectus, meaning "upright man," is an extinct type of archaic human that lived throughout the Pleistocene. The earliest evidence of this species dates back around 2 million years. Homo erectus is arguably the earliest species in the human lineage to show so many human-like traits. Earlier hominins showed essential similarities with current humans, such as bipedality, and Homo erectus still had a long evolutionary route to become like modern humans, but the fossils attributed to Homo erectus display a variety of new and distinctly modern human features.

Characteristic Features of Homo Erectus

  • The brain size of Homo erectus was similar to that of modern humans. With a volume of just under 1,000 cubic centimetres, its brain surpassed the modern human brain's size limit.

  • Erectus was also the first human to have a fleshy, broad nose. The skull had significant ridges across the brow and the face was flat.

  • Homo erectus had shorter arms than Homo habilis and Australopithecus, implying that the ability to climb trees had finally been lost.

  • Longer legs were superior for running and walking long distances, which enabled Homo erectus to migrate to Asia.

  • Homo erectus, with heights ranging from 4 feet 9 inches to 6 feet 1 inch and weights ranging from 88 to 150 pounds, was the first progenitor to resemble modern humans in size.

  • In fact, with the exception of brow ridges and a smaller brain, Homo erectus was probably the first creature we could consider to be essentially human.

  • They also created intricate stone tools, which they passed down for almost a million years to the following generations.

Homo Erectus Skull

In comparison to earlier hominins, Homo erectus had a flat face, a strong brow ridge, and a low, flat skull. Sagittal, frontal, and coronal keels, which are tiny crests that run along these suture lines, have been suggested as evidence of considerable thickening of the skull, particularly the cranial vault. This is not the case, according to CT scan results. However, the squamous region of the occipital bone, particularly the internal occipital crest, towards the back of the skull is noticeably thicker than in modern humans, indicating that this is most likely a basal (ancestral) characteristic. According to the fossil record, Homo erectus was the first human species to have a protruding nose, which is assumed to have evolved in reaction to breathing dry air and retaining moisture.

The Behaviour of Homo Erectus

Food Habits

  • A meatier diet and, as a result, a larger caloric intake are frequently linked to increased brain growth. Entomophagy, or the eating of insect proteins, has also been suggested as a probable explanation.

  • However, because the huge ape gut is used to create fat by fermenting plant materials, which was replaced by dietary animal fat, it's possible that the energy-intensive intestines shrank in size in Homo erectus, allowing more energy to be diverted to brain growth.

  • As a response to the increased reliance on meat, Homo erectus may have become the first to employ hunting and food gathering techniques. Hunting and gathering was a drastically different subsistence strategy from prior modes, with an emphasis on teamwork, division of labour, and food sharing.

  • Regardless, Homo erectus diets were expected to vary greatly depending on location. In addition to the usual giant animals like elephants and fallow deer, they ate amphibians, reptiles, birds, and aquatic and terrestrial invertebrates.

Tool Production

  • While hand axes are the most distinctive of Acheulian tools, they account for just a small proportion of the items discovered at Homo erectus sites.

  • In fact, these early humans created a diverse range of stone tools that were used to treat a vast range of plant and animal resources.

  • Choppers, cleavers, and hammers, as well as flakes used as blades and scrapers, were included in their toolkits.

  • Homo erectus tools most likely involved a variety of devices out of more perishable materials like wood, bark, and even grass, which may be easily twisted together to form string and rope.

  • The Acheulian tool-making tradition is said to have started 1.5 million years ago in East and South Africa.


Homo erectus, the extinct ancient human, was a species of pioneers. It was the first of our ancestors to have human-like body proportions, with shorter arms and longer legs in comparison to its torso. It was also the first hominin known to leave Africa and possibly the first to cook food. Apart from Homo sapiens, Homo erectus was the most geographically widespread species.

Homo erectus first arrived in Africa some two million years ago, descended from either a late australopith or a more primitive type of Homo, and expanded throughout Asia. The earliest human species to use handaxes were Homo erectus (Acheulean tools). These were intricately carved stone utensils with two sides. They were most likely used for butchering meat, among other things.

Want to read offline? download full PDF here
Download full PDF
Is this page helpful?

FAQs on Homo Erectus

1. What is the difference between Homo erectus and Homo sapiens?

"Homo sapien" is Latin for "intelligent human." Homo sapiens is an evolved and highly developed species among all primates on the planet. Monkeys, lemurs, apes, lorises, and other primates are found here. DNA is the genetic material in them, which is stored in the nucleus of eukaryotic living beings as chromosomes.

"Upright man" is what "Homo erectus" means. These are extinct archaic human species from the Pleistocene epoch, with the earliest evidence dating back nearly 2 million years. Their body proportions and walk were human-like, and they were the first people to have an obvious nose, a flat face, and possibly rare body hair coverage.

2. What is evolution?

The term "evolution" refers to a process that, over the course of time, causes changes in the genetic material of a population. Genes can be changed and hence, new characteristics can emerge, and even new species can emerge as a consequence of evolution, which is a reflection of how organisms adapt to the changing environments in which they live. Changes throughout time in genetic variability as well as shifts in the frequency of different alleles are necessary for the functioning of evolutionary processes.

3. What is the role of genes in evolution?

The process by which populations of organisms change over generations is known as evolution. These modifications are caused by genetic differences. Gene variants (also known as mutations) or a normal process in which genetic material is changed as a cell prepares to divide can cause genetic variances (known as genetic recombination). 

Different features in an organism can be introduced by genetic differences that modify gene activity or protein function. If a characteristic is beneficial and helps an individual survive and reproduce, it is more likely to be handed down to the next generation (a process known as natural selection). The beneficial characteristics become increasingly widespread in a population over time as generations of people with the trait continue to reproduce, resulting in a population that differs from an ancestral one. Occasionally, the population develops sufficiently dissimilar that it is classified as a separate species.

Competitive Exams after 12th Science