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|There is more information available on this subject at Human on the English Wikipedia.|
For too many years, humanity was on the backfoot, reacting to threats rather than preventing them. The rest of the galaxy was bigger than us, stronger than us. We were mice hiding in the shadows hoping the giants would not see us. No more. Humanity is no longer on the defense. We are the giants now.
Humans (Latin: Homo sapiens, meaning "wise man") are sentient beings that are native to Earth and part of the primate family. Fossil records date the last surviving species (Homo sapiens sapiens, meaning "Wise Wise Man") as having existed for about 200,000 years before the common era. By the mid-26th century, they are rated as a Tier 3 race as per the Forerunner Technological Achievement system though their researching and developing weapons and armor during the Human-Covenant war has advanced them to a higher Tier 2.
Homo sapiens are believed to have appeared in Earth's fossil record between approximately 100,000 and 200,000 years ago (An older branch of Homo sapiens known as Homo sapiens idaltu was believed to have lived as far back as 160,000 BCE). Although the exact origin of humanity is a hotly contested paleontological debate, the first humans likely evolved from a genus of upright ape-like hominids called Australopithecus (likely Australopithecus afarensis).
The most successful species, Homo sapiens is not the only human to have evolved on Earth, but the Homo sapiens species, modern humanity, are believed to have either displaced or outlasted all other branches of the genus. Evidence suggests significant cultural and genetic contact between anatomically-modern humans and other such members of the genus as Homo erectus, neanderthalensis, and floresiensis; 1-4% of the DNA in European and East Asian humans is Neanderthal, while Melanesian people have 4% of a close relative to the Neanderthals in their blood. Modern humans usually stand 6' tall, though their height varies depending on nutrition, genetics, and other factors. Humans, like some Covenant species, are four-limbed and bipedal and can therefore walk upright on two legs and use their arms and hands (including opposable thumbs) to hold and manipulate objects such as tools.
Early civilization and regression
- Main article: Prehistoric human civilization
Humanity advanced early in its history. Its technology became highly sophisticated, and it outward expanded along the Orion Arm to escape Forerunner control thousands of years before the activation of the Halo Array. Humanity once formed an alliance with the San'Shyuum and later warred against the nascent Flood. Humanity drove the Flood from the galaxy for the next several millennia, but the conflict caused a war with the Forerunners. The Forerunners won and, as punishment by the Didact (Forerunner leader) reduced humanity to a pre-technological state: he stripped them of their technology, smashed their civilizations, and exiled their remnants to Earth. Though The Librarian watched over and guarded humanity as the race scraped itself back together, The Didact used the Composer to destroy a small portion of mankind. Because of this The Librarian locked The Didact away for the safety of humanity and himself.
The Ark and reseeding
Humanity was one of many species that the Librarian indexed and preserved aboard Installation 00. After the Halo Array fired, they were returned to Earth.
The development of human civilization as modern humans know it began ten thousand years ago with the Neolithic Revolution, during which humans learned how to systematically use plants to produce edible food-energy. The stability thereby gained enabled more permanent settlements and the development of ever more complex tools.
Innovative toolmaking and the domestication of other species provided human populations greater and greater power to expand their populations, and trade ensured the diffusion of new technologies to adjacent groups. These exploding populations formed the first genuine civilizations over 8,500 years ago in Northern Africa, Southwest Asia, Asia Minor, and elsewhere soon after. The infrastructure of civilizations continued to grow in size and complexity as innovative technologies and larger populations increased food-energy availability. Economic, political, and scientific advancement continued to quicken by automating many tasks in the Industrial Revolution. Human civilization rapidly developed during the 18th through 20th centuries, which comprised an era known as the "Industrial Revolution". The major political and economic ramifications of the rise constitutional governments and refined capitalist resource management techniques enabled such important inventions as automobiles, electrical appliances, and aircraft to enter use at unprecedented scales. Humanity's understanding of medicine and chemistry raced ahead and created anesthesia, along with plastics that could cheaply fulfill an enormous amount of material roles (with the better preservation of food being one of its greatest functions). The average human lifespan of approximately forty-five years leapt to eighty or one hundred years because of antibiotics and other medicines combined with better food production and preservation: the age-old scourges of plague and famine were nearly eradicated.
Mankind more efficiently applied previous sciences and arts, and the art of the military would prove no exception to this pattern. Armed conflicts rapidly changed from the primitive, melee-oriented wars of the past: after two massive wars within the first 50 years of the 20th century, humans invented superior firearms, automatic weapons, radar, tanks, missiles, jet engines, and ultimately the atomic bomb, which became the most powerful weapon then known and later a key component of human arsenals during the brutal war against the Covenant.
Over the next 60 years the superpower nations of the United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (succeeded by the Commonwealth of Independent States) competed in a period of military and cultural tension known as the "Cold War". The lethality of humanity's relatively new warfare technologies, tactics, and battlefield doctrines became more destructive and precise as each nation tried to intimidate the other. In the 1950s, the Soviet Union launched the earliest satellite and sent the first human, Yuri Gagarin, into space, officially making humans space faring (and thus at Stage 5 in the Technological Achievement Tiers). The United States successfully placed the first human, Neil Armstrong, on the Moon, and eventually surpassed the Soviet Union's space faring and military production capabilities; their doctrines would heavily influence the UNSC in later centuries.
These advancements caused the Digital Revolution, in which computing machines enabled scientific discovery and technological development to accelerate with explosive speed. As larger urban centers and tools for civilian and military uses, along with more modern economic and political systems, developed, individuals enjoyed longer, more pro-creative, and more comfortable lives, now virtually impervious to the creatures from whose midst they sprang. Thus-unchecked, the human population eventually exceeded the carrying capacity of earth by several billion and ultimately created a great need for humans to expand off world.
Additionally, the creation of the Internet in the late 20th century revolutionized communication and data processing, thereby further accelerating mankind's rate of technological progress. World politics also changed with the formation of the United Nations. The religiously neutral nature of many of these constitutional style governments, along with scientific and logical explanations for phenomena and methodology, relatively diminished the weight of ideological dogma. Religion would remain a staple of human societies insofar as advocating personal ethical codes, though unlike that of the Covenant, it was no longer primarily a mere framework to justify a large, hierarchical system of differing castes and birthrights. In the late the 20th century, satellites used solar energy instead of primitive battery sources and could therefore work long enough to send and retrieve data and communications and be a method of civilian and military navigation. Although much of the technology used during this time is disregarded as "primitive" by the standards of the 26th century, they were all somehow a precursor to all of technologies utilized later by the UNSC.
Colonization and War
The species was able to explore the space immediately surrounding their home planet in the 20th century, as the population began to advance beyond the capacity of the planet to comfortably sustain their civilization. The subsequent conflict over resources, economics, religion and politics on Earth gave way to numerous wars. Furthermore, these tensions put great pressure on the species in the beginning of the twenty-third century, and the transnational organization that became the Unified Earth Government (UEG) engaged in more frequent space colonization and sought to represent the entire species, even though no one state ever previously ruled the entire human race. The development of Slipspace travel in 2291 helped the UNSC engage in spreading the human race beyond their home solar system, relieving the serious ecological pressure on the home world.
Simultaneously, this expansion was also to usher in promising new opportunities for humanity, as some of these colonies, such as planet Reach with its bountiful titanium deposits, could offer abundant stores of raw materials that had otherwise been considerably unique and scarce on Earth. With the initial advent of interplanetary trade driving down the costs of what had once been an expensive implementation of their technology - such as the forging of space-worthy ships and naval vessels - the effects from these carefully implemented first colonization projects helped to ensure that interstellar trade, travel and communication were to be more commonplace amongst the general populace in the ensuring centuries, eventually granting humanity the capacity to expand to hundreds of worlds and establish colonies at enhanced rates.
The species as a whole was finally pushed into major conflict when, after several centuries of spreading throughout many star systems and inhabiting hundreds of worlds, they discovered the violent, genocidal, theocratic Covenant, and were forced into the war covered by the Halo series. As the decades-long war wore on, the human race gained the controversial reputation as a worthy adversary against the Covenant, despite the fact that they were technologically, numerically and physically inferior. Humans with the help of the SPARTANs, could hold out in ground combat and sometimes defeated the Covenant (on the rare occasion, without the aid of the SPARTANs), but in space the Covenant had virtually undisputed supremacy, thanks to their talents for re-purposing Forerunner technology, space tactics and not to mention whenever they were defeated on the ground, they would glass the planet.
Humans have been able to show great bravery when facing insurmountable odds. Some of the members of the Covenant wonder why the Hierarchs had refused to allow the humans to join them, as they had with the crucial contributions of the SPARTAN-IIs been able to hold steadfast even when outmatched in almost every way. However, despite great courage, the future seemed dark for the survival of the human race as the Covenant continued to wipe out their colonies, marching ever closer to Earth. On October 20, 2552, Earth was found. In the ensuing battles over possession of Earth, humanity suffered heavy casualties.
March 3, 2553, saw the end of the Human-Covenant war as a Pyrrhic victory for humanity and their new found Sangheili allies - the majority of the Covenant Loyalist military having been defeated at Delta Halo by the Sangheilian Fleet, and the rest annihilated by the joint Elite-UNSC forces at the Ark. This victory came in time to save the human homeworld, thanks to the actions of the Arbiter and SPARTAN John-117.
In early stages, human technology and knowledge advanced through simple trial and error in an inefficient manner, hampering faster progress. Although humans had developed writing very early on in their history, it wasn't until the invention of printing that information and ideas could be mass-communicated in an effective manner. The development of the scientific method in later conjunction with improved and more efficient capitalistic resource management techniques during the lessons of the "Industrial Revolution" resulted in stark accelerations in the development of technologies and the acquisition of knowledge. New technologies were experimented and explored with advanced knowledge of underlying principles as talented individuals were better organized and better supplied, allowing extremely accurate and fast improvements to be made with minimized trials and costs. Such methods of thought and organization are a hallmark of humanity which differs from the Covenant who, lacking proper researching methods, would simply copy and reverse-engineer technology from ancient Forerunner artifacts, whilst generally having no understanding of the underlying concepts themselves. Thus it is said that the Covenant are "imitative" while the humans are "innovative" as the war progresses.
In the 26th century human technology did not advance equally for every concept previously explored. The most basic technologies (such as the ballistic weaponry and the wheel) had undergone few principal changes, the explanation for this being their proven reliability over centuries of use. The technology worked and so did not require heavy alteration or major changes. Humans however did have other great advancements such as Shaw-Fujikawa Translight Engines that are capable of reaching other star systems, as well as the creation of highly sophisticated A.I.s that could serve to fulfill versatile roles.
- weapons: While still primarily based on projectiles and chemical reactions, human weapons in the Halo Universe are still more advanced than the weapons of the 21st century. They come with a variety of electronic gadgets such as ammo readouts and are significantly more reliable, seldom malfunctioning. They are also generally immune to electromagnetic pulses. Still, there have been some advanced developments, such as the Magnetic Accelerator Cannon, which is extensively used on ships as well as on vehicles and ground based weapons. A similar weapon, the rail-gun, was experimented with in the 20th century. There have been developments in energy weapons such as the Spartan Laser and the experimental pulse lasers used on UNSC Prowler. Although some of these breakthroughs could have been based on captured Covenant technology, humans have previously used laser technology. Humans may have a good understanding of particle beam technology but have yet to utilize it in their weaponry. One of the largest breakthroughs came in the mid 20th century where humans discovered that nuclear fission and fusion can be used as a weapon to cause a large explosion, with such warheads seen in many missile installations and UNSC warships during naval battles. Innovation in this area would also converge in the creation of humanity's most devastating weapon during the war effort, known as the NOVA Bomb. By 2557 they have created handheld railguns.
- Ground Vehicles: Though human vehicles still rely on crude wheeled or continuous track motion for locomotion, UNSC vehicles are still extremely advanced, incorporating high-strength materials with precision engineering to improve mobility and durability, while often mounting a variety of weapons or equipment to increase their flexibility. Most like the Warthog have switched from fossil fuels to hydrogen-fuel cell engines which runs from converted salt water. The most powerful of human vehicles usually run on continuous tracks that allow them to better distribute their weight over uneven ground and to better grip uneven terrain thus allowing for the vehicles to go places where other wheeled counterparts could never, but the vehicles are usually heavier than their wheeled counterparts. However, the human armored units seen in the Halo series have a small caliber cannon compared to even modern day MBTs. With only a 90mm cannon, the UNSC Scorpion seems underpowered by today's standards, but there may be other advances not revealed which compensate for this, such as it's high rate of fire compared to today's tanks, and advanced ammunition, not to mention the tank's relatively high versatility.
- Air Vehicles: Most UNSC aircraft are designed with Vertical Take-off and Landing capabilities, using adjustable jet engines for lift and thrust. It is possible that some, like the Pelican incorporate Lifting Body principles.
- Medical Advances: The use of Sterile Field Generators means that surgery is not only safer to perform, with a greatly reduced risk of infection, but is also able to be performed in the field. Combat personnel also use biofoam, an expanding semi-organic compound that fills and pressurizes a wound, numbing it at the same time. Several modern day diseases have also been cured including cancer.
- Space-Faring: During the Mid-20th century, humanity experimented with rocket technology using it to build satellites and visit and subsequently colonize the Moon and beyond. With the advent of Slipspace engines allowing faster-than-light travel, the UNSC was able to expand well beyond the confines of the Sol system, colonizing a number of worlds. UNSC Freighters transport food and goods between colonies, while UNSC Navy warships protect trade routes from pirates and defend colonies from enemy assault. However, the weapons and combat abilities of human spacecraft are, as of the Human-Covenant war time period, still somewhat limited. In the Post-War period one of humanities greatest technological advances in ships was the UNSC Infinity, with technology recovered from the Human-Covenant war and the Shield World Trevelyan.
It is known that in the 22nd century, Earth was deemed overpopulated, jump-starting the colonization programs of the time. The population of known human settlements preceding the Human-Covenant war would amount to 39 billion humans according to the UNSC and Halsey's records and estimates. After twenty seven years of war with the genocidal Covenant, Cortana approximated the death count to 23 billion (16 billion remaining).
Anatomy and Physiology
Humans are mammals, and closely related to other dominant apes on the planet Earth, meaning that they are warm-blooded and give birth to live offspring, and nourish their offspring with milk. They have five fingers, one being an opposable thumb, which a few Covenant species do not have. It was a major part in helping humans dominate on Earth. Unlike Elites, their circulatory system is closed and consists of one heart and a network of blood vessels and red blood due to the iron-based hemoglobin of humans, as well as two lungs which breathe mainly a nitrogen-oxygen-based atmosphere. Externally, they have more hair than most Covenant species, but not nearly as much as Brutes. Their eyes have more pinpointed pupils allowing for good vision, and their sense of hearing can detect very low pitch sounds. However, their sense of smell is fairly poor. They are omnivorous, meaning that they will eat both meats and plants, as well as consume high calcium foods, such as the milk of other animals, in great quantities. Their bone structure is much different than a few Covenant species. They have a large calcium deposit, as well as a more developed bone structure for protecting organs, allowing them to be a perfect target for the Flood.
Muscle-wise, humans are lean and possess relatively little muscle tissue. Consequentially, a majority of Covenant species can overpower humans in straight close quarters combat while being all but impervious to any form of retaliation. In theory at least, physical conditioning negates this somewhat, as even a standard UNSC marine can be witnessed flipping a turned over vehicle, and with the right enhancements and equipment, overcome their physical disadvantages to an even further extent as demonstrated by the SPARTANs.
To their credit, the relatively low power output of the human anatomy translates into a low upkeep for their sustained bodily functions. With a metabolism well suited for the moderation of internal body temperature, less recovery time is required from physical exertion compared to other species. Though potential prey would easily out pace them at first, by pure stamina alone, early humans were able to wear down their quadruped game as it succumbed to heat stroke far sooner than they would.
To their further credit, standard humans can also tap into hidden reserves of energy in times of great stress via their adrenaline glands. This adrenaline rush, or "Fight or Flight" reflex as otherwise known, results in drastically increased strength and responsiveness to threat. The skeletal structure of humans also permits for substantial degree of flexibility. Combined with the reflexes granted by adrenaline, it is not uncommon for great feats of stealth and evasion to occur compared to certain Covenant species who are otherwise their physical superiors, such as the case with Hunters and Brutes.
Connections Between the Forerunners and humans
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- Main article: Reclaimer
A common theory among the Halo community is that the Forerunners are the ancient ancestors of the human species. Examples of possible descent include the fact that only humans can take the Index from its resting place in the Library, as well as comments made by 343 Guilty Spark during the Halo trilogy. In the trilogy, the Monitor conveys confusion about the ignorance the humans have regarding the Halo array. In Halo: Combat Evolved, 343 Guilty Spark confuses John-117 with a Forerunner, referring to conversations they never had.
Halo 3 seemed to give the most evidence for the theory of humans being the Forerunner descendants. 343 Guilty Spark tells John-117: "You are the child of my makers. Inheritor of all they left behind. You are Forerunner!" In addition, the Prophet of Truth also tells Sergeant Major Avery Johnson: "Your Forefathers wisely set aside their compassion. Steeled themselves for what needed to be done. I see now why they left you behind. You were weak. And gods must be strong." Quotes by the Gravemind spoken in Halo 3 also seem to reinforce the connection between humans and Forerunners, for example: Child of my enemy, why have you come? I offer no forgiveness for the father's sins passed on to his son.
However, the web comic that included the character N'chala makes this theory less likely. It seemingly disproved the theory with the combination of the Server 05 message from the Iris viral campaign and the Terminals of Halo 3 explaining that the Forerunners discovered humanity on a planet in a "perilous location beyond the line" (Maginot Line, meaning that Earth was outside of the Forerunners' protection). The Librarian built a portal to the Ark before Didact fired the array, ensuring humanity's survival from the Halos and the Flood. As shown with the Bestiarum, the Forerunners worked to categorize species that they found.
The Halo Encyclopedia has confirmed that Forerunners were deeply fascinated by humanity and felt that humans were meant to carry on their legacy as custodians of the galaxy. They also felt that they could learn a lot about themselves and their own existence through the intense study of humans. Halo Legends episode "Origins" depicts the Forerunners being of almost exact human form and shape, though their facial features are kept hidden throughout the episode. Whether this shows a biological connection between Forerunners and humans is still uncertain.
Another theory (one supported by the Halo 3 Terminals) is that the humans became the inheritors of the Forerunner empire and technology because the Forerunners passed the Mantle of Guardianship down to humanity, as it was passed to them, presumably from the Precursors, and that the Forerunners re-encoded certain aspects of their technology (e.g. the Index) to only respond to human DNA.
During the events in Halo: Contact Harvest, Covenant religious vehicles traveled the edge of Covenant-controlled space and discovered a planet that was covered with Forerunner "Reclamation" glyphs, who were actually the humans. A Brute Chieftain known as Maccabeus (uncle of Tartarus) landed on the planet and was, at first, passive towards the humans. He claimed the planet in the name of the Covenant due to the presence of a large number of Forerunner relics (which in fact were humans) and an Oracle. It wasn't until a shot rang out did things turn bloody. Later, a report of the planet's glyphs was sent to the Vice Minister of Tranquility. He took the information to the Minister of Fortitude, and they went to see the Oracle (the Forerunner AI, 032 Mendicant Bias, in the Dreadnought). Upon activation of the Oracle, the AI exclaimed, "FOR EONS I HAVE WATCHED. LISTENED TO YOU MISINTERPRET. THIS IS NOT RECLAMATION. THIS IS RECLAIMER." After those words, the glyphs in the report were shown, and they began to transform shape until a crude image of a human appeared. The Oracle adds, "AND THOSE IT REPRESENTS ARE MY MAKERS. I WILL REJECT MY BIAS AND WILL MAKE AMENDS. MY MAKERS ARE MY MASTERS. I WILL BRING THEM SAFELY TO THE ARK." After that, the power conduits aboard the Dreadnought short circuit as several frying, dead Lekgolo worms fall out of the spaces. The Dreadnought powers down. Truth, believing that the humans were actually Forerunner (rather than being related), believed this information could destroy the foundation of the Covenant and, with it, his power. Upon being promoted (through blackmail) to High Prophet, he used his power to set out a massive religious genocide against the humans.
Humans and Forerunners are both related in that they were both created by an older species known as the Precursors.