Homo sapiens is the systematic name used in taxonomy (also known as binomial nomenclature) for the only extant human species. The name is Latin for "wise man" and was introduced in 1758 by Carl Linnaeus (who is himself also the type specimen).
Extinct species of the genus Homo include Homo erectus, extant during roughly 1.8 to 0.1 million years ago, and a number of other species (by some authors considered subspecies of either H. sapiens or H. erectus). H. sapiens idaltu (2003) is a proposed extinct subspecies of H. sapiens.
The age of speciation of H. sapiens out of ancestral H. erectus (or an intermediate species such as Homo antecessor) is estimated to have taken place at roughly 300,000 years ago. Sustained archaic admixture is known to have taken place both in Africa and (following the recent Out-Of-Africa expansion) in Eurasia, between about 100,000 to 30,000 years ago.
In certain contexts, the term anatomically modern humans (AMH) is used to distinguish H. sapiens as having an anatomy consistent with the range of phenotypes seen in contemporary humans from varieties of extinct archaic humans. This is useful especially for times and regions where anatomically modern and archaic humans co-existed, e.g. in Paleolithic Europe.
The species is taken to have emerged from a predecessor within the genus Homo around 300,000 to 200,000 years ago. A problem with the morphological classification of "anatomically modern" was that it would not have included certain extant populations. For this reason, a lineage-based (cladistic) definition of H. sapiens has been suggested, in which H. sapiens would by definition refer to the modern human lineage following the split from the Neanderthal lineage. Such a cladistic definition would extend the age of H. sapiens to upward of 500,000 years.