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Human Evolution Evidence

Family of hominids sharing food by the fire.

Evidence of Evolution

Scientists have discovered a wealth of evidence concerning human evolution, and this evidence comes in many forms. Thousands of human fossils enable researchers and students to study the changes that occurred in brain and body size, locomotion, diet, and other aspects regarding the way of life of early human species over the past 6 million years. Millions of stone tools, figurines and paintings, footprints, and other traces of human behavior in the prehistoric record tell about where and how early humans lived and when certain technological innovations were invented. Study of human genetics show how closely related we are to other primates – in fact, how connected we are with all other organisms – and can indicate the prehistoric migrations of our species, Homo sapiens, all over the world. Advances in the dating of fossils and artifacts help determine the age of those remains, which contributes to the big picture of when different milestones in becoming human evolved.


Exciting scientific discoveries continually add to the broader and deeper public knowledge of human evolution. Find out about the latest evidence in our What’s Hot in Human Origins section.


Image of paleoanthropologist Dr. Potts surveying archaeological site.


Explore the evidence of early human behavior—from ancient footprints to stone tools and the earliest symbols and art – along with similarities and differences in the behavior of other primate species.

Image of STS-5 fossil skull

Human Fossils

From skeletons to teeth, early human fossils have been found of more than 6,000 individuals. Look into our digital 3-D collection and learn about fossil human species.

Image of Skhūl V, 3D scan, 3/4 view

3D Collection

Explore our 3D collection of fossils, artifacts, primates, and other animals.

Looking at DNA model


Our genes offer evidence of how closely we are related to one another – and of our species’ connection with all other organisms.

Image of stratigraphic layers.


The layers that contain fossils and archeological clues can be dated by more than a dozen techniques that use the basic principles of physics, chemistry, and Earth sciences. Some techniques can even estimate the age of the ancient teeth and bones directly. Advances in dating have made human evolution very exciting!

Timeline thumbnail

Human Evolution Timeline Interactive

Explore the evidence for human evolution in this interactive timeline - climate change, species, and milestones in becoming human.

Zoom in using the magnifier on the bottom for a closer look! This interactive is no longer in FLASH, it may take a moment to load.

Human Family Tree

Human Family Tree

The human family tree shows the various species that constitute the human evolutionary family.

from animated burial scene in the Shanidar Cave Snapshot

Snapshots in Time

In these video interactives, put together clues and explore discoveries the prehistoric sites of Swartkrans, South Africa, Olorgesailie, Kenya, and  Shanidar Cave, Iraq.