Human Origins


Watch OSIRIS-REx Head to the Cosmos to Grab a Scoop of Asteroid Dust

Today, NASA will launch the spacecraft which will travel to the nearby asteroid Bennu

Reconstruction of Lucy’s vertical deceleration event, by the authors of the new study.

Did Anthropologists Just Solve the 3-Million-Year-Old Mystery of Lucy’s Death?

Researchers think they've reconstructed the fatal plunge and last terrifying seconds of the hominin's life

A reconstruction of Ötzi the Iceman at the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology.

DNA Analysis Reveals What Ötzi the Iceman Wore to His Grave

He rocked surprisingly complex fashion for the Copper Age

A view of the area of the ice-free corridor today

First Humans Entered the Americas Along the Coast, Not Through the Ice

Evidence mounts against the traditional story of early human migration through an ice corridor

An ancient stone tool used to butcher a rhinoceros.

Ancient Hominids Used These 250,000-Year-Old Tools for Butchery

Traces of blood on the prehistoric tools, suggest our ancestors had a much more varied diet than once thought

The ancient carving after it was vandalized by well-intentioned youth.

One of the Earliest Images of Skiing Was Destroyed by Youths Trying to “Improve It”

The petroglyph was made 5,000 years ago

Sully Vent in the Main Endeavour Vent Field in the northeast Pacific, similar to the environment LUCA would have lived

Behold LUCA, the Last Universal Common Ancestor of Life on Earth

New discoveries suggest life likely descends from the inhospitable environment of deep sea vents

An artist's reconstruction of what the hobbit may have looked like housed in Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History.

The “Hobbit” Lineage May Be Much Older Than Previously Thought

A new find hints that the short-statured hominins could have been living in Indonesia over a half a million years earlier than previous estimates

Bison Fossils Offer Clues to Track Human Migration Into the Americas

DNA analysis of bison fossils show that people likely migrated down the Pacific coast and not through the Rocky Mountains

Did Neanderthals Die Out Because of the Paleo Diet?

A new theory links their fate to a meat-heavy regimen

An example of the type of axe head the newly described fragment would have come from.

50,000-Year-Old Axe Shows Australians Were at The Cutting Edge of Technology

A polished stone chip is the earliest-known example of a ground-edge axe yet

Drawing of a rhinoceros species, now extinct in Europe, in the Caverne du Pont d'Arc near Vallon, France, a replica of Chauvet Cave.

New Timeline Zeros in on the Creation of the Chauvet Cave Paintings

Radiocarbon dates help reconstruct the cave's long history

Human Diseases May Have Doomed the Neanderthals

Stomach ulcers, herpes, ringworm and other tropical diseases may have all contributed to the Neanderthal demise

Humans and Neanderthals May Have Had Trouble Making Male Babies

The Neanderthal Y chromosome hasn't persisted in modern humans

Ancient Mayan skull and bones remain in a Mexican sinkhole, remnants of a long-ago human sacrifice. The victims of sacrifice in Mayan rituals were varied, ranging from slaves to captive rulers of other lands.

Human Sacrifices May Lie Behind the Rise of Ancient Social Status

Dark practices may have helped the elite keep the lower classes in line, a new study hints


Top 7 Human Evolution Discoveries From South Africa

The search for humans' most ancient ancestors began in South Africa, where some of paleoanthropology's most iconic fossils have been found


Animal Insight

Recent studies illustrate which traits humans and apes have in common—and which they don't


Wild Things: Life As We Know It

Human behavior, primate intelligence, meal planning, tree-dwelling orchids and detangling history

"It's a plastered skull!" shouted anthropologist Basak Boz (with the artifact). To researchers, who have documented more than 400 human burials at Catalhoyuk, the find is evidence of a prehistoric artistic and spiritual awakening.

The Seeds of Civilization

Why did humans first turn from nomadic wandering to villages and togetherness? The answer may lie in a 9,500-year-old settlement in central Turkey


Smithsonian Perspectives

In the Smithsonian's long history of studying cultures, we've learned to help people represent themselves

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