Taxonomical Hierarchy of Humans

Taxonomy of Humans

Often we hear confusing statements about the origin of humans. At different times we see humans into different subsets such as primates, mammals, great apes, etc. This confusion is due to the taxonomy of humans. This article is a simplified explanation of the taxonomy of humans.

What is the taxonomy of Humans

Taxonomy is the classification of humans and living beings into different groups, classes, orders. According to the taxonomical hierarchy, every living being on the earth can categorize into seven primary categories: kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus, and species. The greatest rank in the hierarchy is the kingdom, and the lowest is species. Carolus Linnaeus, a Swedish botanist, created the classification system we use today (Taxonomic Hierarchy Categories) in the 18th century.

Taxonomical Hierarchy of Humans in Brief

Taxonomic hierarchy of humans
Taxonomic hierarchy of humans

At a glance, human taxonomical hierarchy is,

  • Domain – Eukarya
  • Kingdom – Animalia
  • Phylum – Phylum
  • Class – Mammalia
  • Order – Primates
  • Family – Hominoidea
  • Genus – Homo
  • Species – Sapien

Taxonomical Hierarchy of Humans


Life on earth is classified into three domains: Bacteria, Archaea and Eukarya. Both of the first two are made up entirely of single-celled microorganisms. There is no nucleus in any of them. Eukarya is the third domain, which includes creatures with nuclei in their cells. It’s also the only domain where multicellular and visible organisms can be found, such as people, animals, plants, and trees.


In the domain Eukarya, there are four kingdoms: Prostista, fungi, Plantae, and Animalia. And humans are members of Animalia kingdom.


The Animal Kingdom is again divided into seven Phyla: Porifera, Cnidaria, Platyhelminthes, Annelida, Mollusca, Arthropoda, and Chordata. Humans and their ancestors are members of a particular phylum called Chordata. A Chordata phylum contains animals that have a spine (a bundle of nerves and cartilage that supports the back)

Taxonomical Hierarchy of humans from domain to order
Taxonomical Hierarchy of humans from domain to order


Next, the category Chordata is divided into five classes, such as the Reptilia, the Fish, the Birds, and the Mammalia. The first Mammalia or mammals appeared about 250 million years ago. These early mammals were small insectivorous species that lived alongside dinosaurs. Mammals began to develop into different varieties when the dinosaurs died out 65 million years ago.


Humans and other great apes are members of a particular order of mammals known as the primates. There are seven other orders in the Mammalia class, such as Rodentia, Chiroptera, Soricomorpha, Carnivora, Artiodactyla, Diprotodontia, Lagomorpha. The order primates evolved more than 60 million years ago. Primates are different from all other mammals due to their unique features, for instance, large, complex brains and grasping hands and opposable thumbs and big toes.


In the order of primates, ape kind of beings is coming under the Superfamily Hominoidea. Or family apes. About 25 million years ago, the first apes appeared, and by 20 million years ago, they had become a remarkably varied species. Many ape species have gone extinct in the last 10 million years due to the cooler and drier climates and changes in habitats. Apes are different from other primates due to the larger brain size, distinct molar teeth, an appendix, no external tails, and wide but shallow chest.

Taxonomical Hierarchy of Hominoidea Superfamily
Taxonomical Hierarchy of Hominoidea Superfamily

Hominoidea, Hominidae, Homininae, Hominini

Evolution of superfamily Hominoidea

The superfamily Hominoidea can be further subdivided into two sets: the Great Hylobatidae(lesser apes) and Hominidae(great apes). The great apes again divided into two: ponginae and Hominae. The subfamily homininae divide into two tribes hominini and gorillini. Finally, the tribe hominini divides into two subsets Pan and Homo. The homo genus includes all the existed and exciting humans ever lived. And the Genus Pan includes the humans’ closest living relatives: Chimpanzees and bonobos.

Hominid and Hominin

Often terms hominid and hominin are used interchangeably. However, there is a difference between the term hominids and hominin.

Hominid or Hominidae family consists of all great apes and their immediate ancestors, such as chimpanzees, gorillas, modern humans. On the other hand, Hominin is a tribe that comes under the hominid family. This group includes present humans, extinct human species, and our ancestors such as genera Homo, Australopithecus, Paranthropus, and Ardipithecus.

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