In the Star Trek science fiction universe, Humans/Terrans (Homo sapiens) are one of the races undertaking interstellar travel. Human beings were instrumental in the founding of the United Federation of Planets. Although politically fragmented at the end of the 20th century, Humans underwent political unification, and made first contact with the Vulcan race in 2063.
Human history in Star Trek diverged from the real world in the 20th century. Most remarkably, the 1990s saw the emergence of the Eugenics Wars where genetically engineered "supermen" such as Khan Noonien Singh sought to conquer Earth. They failed, and Khan and his followers escaped to space aboard a cryogenic sleeper ship.
The 21st century saw social changes, unrest, and eventually World War III, a nuclear exchange that left the world factionalized. This period of Human history ended when Zefram Cochrane invented the warp drive, leading to first contact with the Vulcans.
In the 22nd century, Human starships such as the Enterprise explored the galaxy, leading to hostile contact with the Suliban and Xindi and not quite friendly contact with the Klingons. Later in that century, Humans fought an interstellar nuclear war with the Romulans, a war that ended with the negotiation of a peace treaty by subspace radio. This treaty established the Romulan Neutral Zone.
Later on, Humans became a founding member of the United Federation of Planets, and their history from that point forward is largely the history of the Federation.
Most species in the Star Trek universe appear humanoid, because of the seeding efforts of the Ancient humanoids. In reality, it is because of the feasible limitations of television special effects, but in Star Trek: The Next Generation, the story was added to in order to justify this limitation. Prior to this explanation, Gene Roddenberry cited "parallel evolution" as another potential explanation.
In the Borg species classification code, Humans are Species 5618.
Possible evolution of humans
The theories of Human development put forward in Star Trek took several different paths:
In the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "All Good Things...", Q brings Jean-Luc Picard to Earth, presumably to the point on the proto-Eurasian continent which one day would become France, and shows the USS Enterprise-D captain the "spark of life", which in this alternate timeline does not combine into what Q says will ultimately become Humanity. After the anti-time anomaly is sealed in the episode, it is further presumed that evolution, as shown by Q, resumed without incident.
In the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "The Chase", Picard's archeology professor Galen, postulates and later proves the existence of a Proto-Humanoid race, which seeded the Milky Way Galaxy's class-M worlds with its genetic code, producing a tendency for sentients to develop into humanoid form, presumably including Humans.
In the Star Trek episode "The Paradise Syndrome", Captain James T. Kirk is rendered an amnesiac after encountering technology protecting a Human/Terran colony on a Class-M World in an asteroid belt. There Commander Spock researches the obelisk containing the alien technology which injured Kirk, finding a record of a race (or collection of races) involved in "Preserving" cultures and species unique in the universe. The Preservers were a musically-languaged race, and with their superior technology, settled Native American tribes on this frontier world to preserve the Indians' unique culture, including that of the Delawares, of which Miramanee was Chief's daughter and medicine woman.
In the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Hide and Q", Q states to Commander Riker that the Human desire to explore and to learn, as well as their curiosity, will eventually lead Humans to a higher state of being. Q then went on to say that Humans might even surpass the Q.
While Terrans don't have any (physical) advantages compared to other species, like Vulcans who can become hundreds of years old and Klingons who are far more physically resilient, Terrans use their emotions to their advantage. Unlike Vulcans who preferably suppress emotion instead of embracing it as a part of themselves, emotion can drive Humans to go beyond boundaries which could be seen as unreachable by members of other species. Other sources argue that humans possess a high level of adaptability, which would explain why such a relative newcomer among space-faring species has "caught up" to other species which have explored space for centuries.
Ambassador Soval once told Admiral Forrest that of all the species Vulcans had made contact with, Humans were the only one they couldn't define since they have the arrogance of Andorians and the stubborn pride of Tellarites; one moment they're as driven by their emotions as Klingons, and the next they confounded Vulcans by suddenly embracing logic.
Emotions such as hope can drive Terrans to perform amazing achievements; Vulcans needed 1.5 millennia to rebuild their nearly destroyed civilization from scratch, using only emotionless logic whereas Terrans only needed about a century (with help from the Vulcans). Empathy combined with love could be the very thing that unifies Humans into helping others.
The Borg Queen stated Humans to be a noble species when Captain Picard was willing to sacrifice himself in order to save his Second Officer, the android, Data.
- "Humanoid life" in The Star trek encyclopedia By Michael Okuda, Doug Drexler, Debbie Mirek, New York, Pocket Books, 1999, page 198