Discovering Our Distant Ancestors
Understanding human evolution, what we inherit from our animal and primate past—and how we differ—is the first step in understanding our unique place and potential as human beings.
Recent technological breakthroughs in genomic analysis, combined with archeological, paleoanthropological, linguistic and other information, now give us an unparalleled opportunity to trace humanity’s evolution and movement in time.
Six million years ago as many as 18 different hominid species lived in East Africa. Now only one is left. How did it evolve and survive?
What drove the first migration of our forebears from Africa some 50,000 years ago and what that tells us about our continued evolution as a species of problem solvers.
Both reciprocity and empathy – the two pillars upon which morality is built – are found in bonobos, apes and other social animals. But only humans are able to “abstract” the value and extend the behavioral constraints of “one-on-one” morality to the larger society, including strangers. Rather than being in conflict, both religion and the scientific pursuit of knowledge are motivated by a similar inspiration to find meaning and a sense of purpose. Read more »
A leading research psychologist concludes that our abilities surpass those of animals because our minds evolved two overarching qualities. Read more »
Travel the Journey
Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
Learn about 5 million years of early human evolution, track research in the science of paleoanthropology, get answers to your questions from the institute’s researchers, and much more.
Melissa Hogenboom, BBC
Archaeological evidence of people living in the Bluefish Caves in the northern Yukon Territory of western Canada as early as 24,000 years ago now suggests that the people who left Siberia did so 10,000 years earlier than previously thought. They remained genetically and geographically isolated in Beringia until about 16–15,000 years ago before dispersing south.