Ask a question about 'Humanoid'
Start a new discussion about 'Humanoid'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
A humanoid (ˈhjuːmənɔɪd; from English human
Humans are the only living species in the Homo genus...

and -oid "resembling") is something that has an appearance resembling a human being. The term first appeared in 1912 to refer to fossils which were morphologically
Morphology (biology)
In biology, morphology is a branch of bioscience dealing with the study of the form and structure of organisms and their specific structural features....

 similar to, but not identical with, those of the human skeleton
The skeleton is the body part that forms the supporting structure of an organism. There are two different skeletal types: the exoskeleton, which is the stable outer shell of an organism, and the endoskeleton, which forms the support structure inside the body.In a figurative sense, skeleton can...

. Although this usage was common in the sciences for much of the 20th century, it is now considered rare. More generally, the term can refer to anything with uniquely human characteristics and/or adaptations, such as possessing opposable appendage (thumbs) or the ability to walk in an upright position.

In robotics

A humanoid robot is a robot that is based on the general structure of a human, such as a robot that walks on two legs and has an upper torso, or a robot that has two arms, two legs and a head. A humanoid robot does not necessarily look convincingly like a real person, for example the ASIMO
is a humanoid robot created by Honda. Introduced in 2000, ASIMO, which is an acronym for "Advanced Step in Innovative MObility", was created to be a helper to people. With aspirations of helping people who lack full mobility, ASIMO is used to encourage young people to study science and mathematics...

 humanoid robot has a helmet instead of a face.

An android (male) or gynoid
A gynoid is anything which resembles or pertains to the female human form. It is also used in American English medical terminology as a shortening of the term Gynecoid ....

(female) is a humanoid robot designed to look as much like a real person as possible, although these words are frequently perceived to be synonymous with humanoid.

While there are many humanoid robots in fictional stories, some real humanoid robot
Humanoid robot
A humanoid robot or an anthropomorphic robot is a robot with its overall appearance, based on that of the human body, allowing interaction with made-for-human tools or environments. In general humanoid robots have a torso with a head, two arms and two legs, although some forms of humanoid robots...

s have been developed since the 1990s, and some real human-looking android robots have been developed since 2002.

Similarly to robots, virtual avatars
Avatar (computing)
In computing, an avatar is the graphical representation of the user or the user's alter ego or character. It may take either a three-dimensional form, as in games or virtual worlds, or a two-dimensional form as an icon in Internet forums and other online communities. It can also refer to a text...

 may also be called humanoid when resembling humans.

In science fiction

With regard to extraterrestrials in fiction, the term humanoid is most commonly used to refer to alien beings
Extraterrestrial life
Extraterrestrial life is defined as life that does not originate from Earth...

 with a body plan
Body plan
A body plan is the blueprint for the way the body of an organism is laid out. An organism's symmetry, its number of body segments and number of limbs are all aspects of its body plan...

 that is generally like that of a human, including upright stance and bipedalism.

Many aliens in television
Television is a telecommunication medium for transmitting and receiving moving images that can be monochrome or colored, with accompanying sound...

 and science fiction film
Science fiction film
Science fiction film is a film genre that uses science fiction: speculative, science-based depictions of phenomena that are not necessarily accepted by mainstream science, such as extraterrestrial life forms, alien worlds, extrasensory perception, and time travel, often along with futuristic...

s are presented as humanoid. This is usually attributed to budget constraints, as human actors can more easily portray human-like aliens.

Fiction Extraterrestrials

In much of science fiction
Science fiction
Science fiction is a genre of fiction dealing with imaginary but more or less plausible content such as future settings, futuristic science and technology, space travel, aliens, and paranormal abilities...

, the reason for the abundance of humanoid aliens is not explained and requires suspension of disbelief
Suspension of disbelief
Suspension of disbelief or "willing suspension of disbelief" is a formula for justifying the use of fantastic or non-realistic elements in literary works of fiction...

. In some cases, however, explanations have been offered for this. In Star Trek
Star Trek
Star Trek is an American science fiction entertainment franchise created by Gene Roddenberry. The core of Star Trek is its six television series: The Original Series, The Animated Series, The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager, and Enterprise...

, the abundance of humanoid aliens within the Star Trek universe is explained by advancing the story of a primordial humanoid civilization, the Ancient humanoids, who seeded the galaxy with genetically-engineered cells to guide the evolution of life on a multitude of worlds toward a humanoid form. In the television series Stargate SG-1
Stargate SG-1
Stargate SG-1 is a Canadian-American adventure and military science fiction television series and part of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer's Stargate franchise. The show, created by Brad Wright and Jonathan Glassner, is based on the 1994 feature film Stargate by Dean Devlin and Roland Emmerich...

, the Jaffa are explained as being an offshoot of humanity bred by the Goa'uld
The Goa'uld are a fictional symbiotic race of ancient astronauts from the American-Canadian military science fiction television franchise Stargate. The Goa'uld are parasites from the planet P3X-888, integrated within a host, most of the time human. The resulting creatures are a powerful race bent...

 to suit their purposes, hence their almost-human appearance and physiology, while many other "alien" characters are actually the descendants of humans who were removed from Earth by the Goa'uld for use as slaves. Similarly, in its spin-off show Stargate Atlantis
Stargate Atlantis
Stargate Atlantis is a Canadian-American adventure and military science fiction television series and part of MGM's Stargate franchise. The show was created by Brad Wright and Robert C. Cooper as a spin-off series of Stargate SG-1, which was created by Wright and Jonathan Glassner and was itself...

, the explanation offered for the humanoid appearance of the Wraith
Wraith (Stargate)
In the science fiction television series Stargate Atlantis, the Wraith are the original enemy alien species, first introduced in the pilot episode . In the series, they are a vampire-like telepathic race who feed on the "life-force" of humans, and are the dominant power in the Pegasus galaxy...

 is that the Wraith evolved from a parasite which incorporated human DNA
Deoxyribonucleic acid is a nucleic acid that contains the genetic instructions used in the development and functioning of all known living organisms . The DNA segments that carry this genetic information are called genes, but other DNA sequences have structural purposes, or are involved in...

 into its own genome
In modern molecular biology and genetics, the genome is the entirety of an organism's hereditary information. It is encoded either in DNA or, for many types of virus, in RNA. The genome includes both the genes and the non-coding sequences of the DNA/RNA....

 after feeding on humans, giving the Wraith their present form. Also present in Stargate is the concept of convergent evolution
Convergent evolution
Convergent evolution describes the acquisition of the same biological trait in unrelated lineages.The wing is a classic example of convergent evolution in action. Although their last common ancestor did not have wings, both birds and bats do, and are capable of powered flight. The wings are...

, in the species known as Ancients.

In ufology

In the field of ufology
Ufology is a neologism coined to describe the collective efforts of those who study reports and associated evidence of unidentified flying objects . UFOs have been subject to various investigations over the years by governments, independent groups, and scientists...

, humanoid refers to any of the claimed extraterrestrials which abduct human victims, such as the Greys, the Reptilians
Reptilians are purported reptilian humanoids that play a prominent role in modern ufology and conspiracy theories.-Alien abduction:...

, Nordics
Nordic aliens
Nordic aliens are said by self-described contactees and some UFOlogists to be a group of humanoid extraterrestrials who resemble European racial images, or more specifically Nordic-Scandinavians....

, and Martians.

In fantasy

In fantasy settings the term humanoid is used to refer to a human-like fantastical creature, such as a dwarf or an ogre
An ogre is a large, cruel, monstrous, and hideous humanoid monster, featured in mythology, folklore, and fiction. Ogres are often depicted in fairy tales and folklore as feeding on human beings, and have appeared in many classic works of literature...

. In some cases, such as older versions of the game Dungeons and Dragons, a distinction is made between demi-humans, which are relatively similar to humans, and humanoids, which exhibit larger differences from humans.

See also

  • List of fictional humanoid species
  • Hominid (term)
  • Race (fantasy)
  • Anthropomorphism
    Anthropomorphism is any attribution of human characteristics to animals, non-living things, phenomena, material states, objects or abstract concepts, such as organizations, governments, spirits or deities. The term was coined in the mid 1700s...

  • Robotics
    Robotics is the branch of technology that deals with the design, construction, operation, structural disposition, manufacture and application of robots...

  • Humanoid robot
    Humanoid robot
    A humanoid robot or an anthropomorphic robot is a robot with its overall appearance, based on that of the human body, allowing interaction with made-for-human tools or environments. In general humanoid robots have a torso with a head, two arms and two legs, although some forms of humanoid robots...

  • Panspermia