A Guide to Human Evolution

Where did we come from? What does it mean to be human? How did we become human? Human beings ask these questions because they are naturally curious about their ancestry, their heritage. Through research, many people can learn about their family history spanning several generations. Finding out about the distant past is another matter. With no written records or even oral histories passed down from generation to generation, the story of very distant lineage and how human beings evolved can only be learned through fossil remains and the soil in which they have been preserved. Many talented and dedicated men and women devote their lives to discovering where human fossils are hidden and learning the stories they can tell. The study of human evolution, called anthropogenesis, concerns itself with the origins of the genus Homo and the emergence of humans as a distinct species. Among the disciplines of science related to human evolution are physical anthropology, archaeology, primatology, genetics and linguistics.

General Human Evolution

  • Human Origins: A website from the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, deep resources to explore human evolution, in-depth information, beautiful graphics and interactive features.
  • Annenberg Human Evolution: A unit of the Rediscovering Biology video course from Annenberg's Learner.org with online textbook, video, interview transcripts, images and animations.
  • Becoming Human: Accessible human evolution information, research and scholarship, along with an interactive timeline of the human lineage.
  • Who's Who: A picture of human evolution with an interactive timeline. The printable version has all the information about each species in easy to read text. Page also links to videos and resources from NOVA series, Becoming Human, to watch online.
  • Evolution and the Rise of Intelligence: PDF file of the entire September 2006 issue of Scientific American Special Edition Becoming Human.
  • Human Evolution: Site devoted to human evolution, with interactive timeline, fossils gallery, glossary and much more.

Hominid Species


Ar. kadabba

  • Ardipithecus kadabba: Overview with background of the discovery, relationships with other species, key physical features and lifestyle from the Australian Museum.

Ar. ramidus;

  • Ardipithecus ramidus: Analysis of soil and teeth show Ardi lived and took his first steps in a wooded landscape.


Au. anamensis

Au. afarensis

  • Australopithecus afarensis: Lecture notes about the species from a human paleontology course at California State University East Bay.

Au. africanus

Au. bahrelghazali

Au. garhi

  • Australopithecus garhi: Comparing Au. Garhi with other Australopithecines with lots of background information, from the National Center for Science Education.  


Kenyanthropus platyops             

  • K. platyops: An overview of Kenyanthropus platyops.        


  • Paranthropus: A concise, but detailed "biography" of the bipedal Paranthropus and its discovery.

P. aethiopicus, P. boisei, P. robustus

  • Paranthropus Species: Click on the menu selection Paranthropus for a brief introduction to each of these Paranthropus species.


Homo habilis 

  • Homo habilis: Page with excellent fossil images and a brief discuss of Homo habilis.

Homo rudolfensis

  • Homo Faces: The Many Faces of Homo from the AMNH includes Homo rudolfensis.

Homo ergaster

  • Homo ergaster: A look at this species, the discovery and where it fits in the timeline of human evolutional history.

Homo georgicus

  • Homo georgicus: A look at this species, the discovery and where it fits in the timeline of human evolutional history.

Homo antecessor

  • Homo antecessor: An interesting look at Homo antecessor and the Atapuerca dig from Engines of Our Ingenuity at the University of Houston's College of Engineering.

Homo cepranensis

  • Homo cepranensis: A brief page on "Ceprano Man" found near Ceprano, Italy in 1994.

Homo erectus

  • Homo erectus: An in-depth page of information about Homo erectus, relationships and discoveries.

Homo heidelbergensis

  • Homo heidelbergensis: From the fossil specimen discovery in 1907 to the pages from the online Smithsonian, all about the species.

Homo rhodesiensis

  • Homo rhodesiensis: A small image gallery of Homo rhodesiensis fossil casts from the photo collection at the University of California, Berkeley.  

Homo neanderthalensis

  • Neanderthal: Overview and program transcript from Horizon at BBB.

Homo sapiens idaltu

  • Homo sapiens idaltu: All about the discovery and details of the species from one of the research team co-directors, Tim White.

Archaic Homo sapiens

  • Early Archaic Homo sapiens: A look at early Archaic Homo sapiens and their contemporaries and the sites where they were discovered.

Homo floresisensis

  • Homo floresiensis: Was Homo floresisensis first to leave Africa? The story of these tiny people continues to amaze.

Hominid Fossils

  • Fossil Hominids: Thomas Huxley and Eugene Dubois and early fossil discoveries.
  • Lucy's Story: A FAQ based look at Lucy discovered by Donald Johanson and Tom Gray in 1974.
  • From Tree to Tumbleweed: About Meave and Louise Leakey's 1999 expedition that found Kenyanthropus platyops in Kenya.
  • New Species Found: An article in Archaeology about the discovery of Australopithecus garhi.
  • Oldest Human Fossils Found: Article, program audio and transcript of program about Homo sapiens idaltu from NPR's All Things Considered.
  • New Hominid: Lluc's 12 million year old fossilized face and jaw discovered in Spain.
  • Mysterious Fossil Mines: A look back at Raymond Dart's 1920s work in South Africa and what was still happening in the 1970s.
  • Fossil Sites: About important homoid fossil discoveries, with some great photos--part of Human Origins from the Geology Department at Fullerton.
  • Lucy and Neandertals: Scientific American podcast and transcript about what these fossil finds mean.
  • Discovery of the Fossil Record: Interesting material about human fossil discoveries though the years, supplemental material for anthropology course at the University of Texas.

Human Evolution Researchers

  • Charles Darwin: All about Charles Darwin, with online versions of all his writings.
  • Raymond Dart: Biography and discoveries of the tenacious anthropologist who discovered the "Taung Baby."
  • Philip Tobias: Article written on the occasion of the 80th birthday in 2005 of South Africa's famed scientist who has devoted his life to the search to understand human origins.
  • Louis, Mary, Richard, Meave, and Louise Leakey: Biographies of each of the Leakey family members who have made enormous contributions to research in human origins.
  • Donald Johanson: Extensive biography of the discoverer of Lucy and Director of Arizona State University's Institute of Human Origins in Tempe, Arizona.