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My friend keeps saying that there was a first Homo sapiens. Meaning, there was a very first human being that was ever born.

I can't really understand what she means to say from a selection/gene mutation perspective. I can't understand how there would be anything that could be considered the very first human being.

Was there ever a very first, singular human being that could be discerned as such?

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  • $\begingroup$ Perhaps she is referring to mitochondrial eve or a "common-ancestor of all people alive today" which is popular with journalists, although it's thought that the human population has never had less than a few thousand common ancestors. $\endgroup$ Dec 26, 2019 at 20:47
  • $\begingroup$ She means to say the quite literally "someone had to have given birth the the first human baby," just as a logical deduction. There are humans, therefore the must have been a first human baby. So, something gave birth to the very first homo sapien. $\endgroup$
    – Nathaniel
    Dec 26, 2019 at 20:51
  • $\begingroup$ perhaps ask her who made the first car? what was the first pet dog that wasn't a wolf? $\endgroup$ Dec 26, 2019 at 21:42
  • $\begingroup$ Is there some reason you uncorrected the spelling and capitalization of Homo sapiens to "Homo Sapien"? If you insist that is correct please provide a reliable reference that supports that usage. Thanks! $\endgroup$
    – tyersome
    Dec 26, 2019 at 22:07
  • $\begingroup$ I didn't realize it was corrected since no one posted an edit comment. Since I have other misspellings (doing this from my phone), I assumed I had accidentally left it in the lowercase. I didn't realize that the term is lowercase $\endgroup$
    – Nathaniel
    Dec 26, 2019 at 22:14

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No. It is important to distinguish "species" as a human system of classification, and "speciation" as a biological process. Except in cases like chromosomal speciation (changes in ploidy), speciation takes a long time. Probably thousands of years between some initial restriction of gene-flow, and fixation of a specific identifiable trait, present in all individuals of a species, and not present in any others. As a human system of classification, the taxonomists who define species would all understand that speciation is a process that occurs over time, although they may make some arbitrary distinction for convenience. For example, a node on a cladogram symbolizes an instantaneous process of species bifurcation, but this is understood to be an unrealistic simplification.

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  • $\begingroup$ Thank you. While I didn't have the background, I was pretty sure that was the case. $\endgroup$
    – Nathaniel
    Dec 26, 2019 at 19:21

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