Have you been using the word ‘Hominid’ incorrectly?

This is a fairly short post as I have been quite busy lately with university work. I have noticed however, that ‘Hominid’ is used incorrectly a lot of the time.

The word Hominid refers to all great apes, meaning humans, chimpanzees, bonobos, gorillas and orangutans. It does not include gibbons and siamangs who are known as lesser apes. The term ‘lesser ape’ may be changing in the near future as well, as many anthropologists deem it to give a lower status to the lesser apes.

When referring to all apes (great and lesser), the word is Hominoid.

Now, until quite recently Hominid referred to only humans (Homo sapiens) and their ancestors, and actually, looking in The Cambridge Encyclopaedia of Human Evolution which my edition was published in 2007, hominid still refers to humans and their ancestors. It is therefore understandable how this confusion may filter down to the public.

But! Hominid refers to all great apes! If you want to talk specifically about humans and their ancestors after the split with bonobos and chimpanzees, the word to use is Hominin.

Lucy and I are hominins.
Monsieur Chimpanzee, Lucy and I are hominids.
Lady Gibbon, Monsieur Chimpanzee, Lucy and I are hominoids.
And we are all apes and also, primates.

I hope that makes sense!

Featured Image: http://data.hdwallpapers.im/ape.jpg


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