Hominidae refers to the family that includes the great apes and humans. There are seven extant species in four genera: orangutans (2 species in genus Pongo), gorillas (2 species in genus Gorilla), chimpanzees (2 species in genus Pan) and humans (genus Homo). All members are relatively large compared to other primate species, and have long arms, short legs and no tail, and all but the orangutans live mostly on the ground. The Hominidae is thought to have diverged from the gibbons (the lesser apes, family Hylobatidae) about 15-20 million years ago.
Before our present understanding of great ape relationships, humans were separated out in their own family, Hominidae, and the other great apes (orangutans, gorillas, chimpanzees) made up a separate family, the Pongidae. Over the years between the 1960-1990, especially once immunological and molecular methods were employed to investigate great ape phylogeny, the taxonomy was revised to reflect the understanding that chimpanzees are the sister taxon to humans. These methods also resolved Gorilla as the closest relative to the Homo-Pan clade, with three genera together composing the Homininae. The now-paraphyletic term Pongidae is no longer used; however, as a relic of the initial classification separating non-human great apes, humans and their extinct bipedal relatives are still often (confusingly) referred to as hominids.
(Goodman et al. 1990; Wikipedia 2014)
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