There is still disagreement on the subject of the classification, ancestry, and progeny of H. ergaster, but it is now widely accepted to be the direct ancestor of later hominids such as Homo heidelbergensis, Homo sapiens, and Homo neanderthalensis as well as Asian Homo erectus.
It is one of the earliest members of the genus Homo, possibly ancestral to, or sharing a common ancestor with, Homo erectus.
Some paleoanthropologists consider H. ergaster to be simply the African variety of H. erectus; this leads to the use of the term "Homo erectus sensu stricto" for the Asian H. erectus, and "Homo erectus sensu lato" for the larger species comprising both the early African populations (H. ergaster) and the Asian populations.
The binomial name was published in 1975 by Groves and Mazák. The second part, "ergaster", is derived from the Ancient Greek ἐργαστήρ "workman", in reference to the comparatively advanced lithic technology developed by the species, introducing the Acheulean industry.
In Walking with... series
In the third episode, Homo ergaster is depicted as the first creature to master the art of tracking. This was made possible because their diet has grown increasingly more carnivorous, and the nutrients in meat made them even smarter than H. habilis of the previous episode. They also begin to form into tribal societies, with genuine bonds between their men and women, though violence is still occurring. The episode later shows H. ergaster spreading into Asia, becoming Homo erectus and encountering the enormous herbivorous ape Gigantopithecus, "the original King Kong". However, for the next million years, H. ergaster is still very much an animal, following its instinct, but then, they are shown harnessing fire and beginning to break-away from their direct dependence on their environment.