Understanding Evolution: your one-stop source for information on evolution
Resource library Teaching materials Evolution 101 Support this project

Resource library : What is evolution and how does it work? : History of life on Earth
Human evolution


Origin of modern humans: Multiregional or out of Africa?  Advanced
Learn more about your own history from paleoanthropologist Donald Johanson. He describes how and when early humans evolved, Homo sapiens’ ancestors and relatives, and the diverse lines of evidence relating to this history.
This article appears at ActionBioscience.org.

Hall of Human Ancestors
This set of web resources includes an interactive family tree of hominids and our relatives, as well as a tool that allows users to view associated fossils and rotate them through 360 degree views.
This resource appears at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History website.

Origins of humankind
This interactive timeline tells the story of 6 million years of hominid evolution through fossils, artifacts, and our branching family tree.
This resource appears at PBS's Evolution website.

Webcast: From butterflies to humans
In lecture four of a four part series, evolutionary biologist Sean Carroll uses the developmental genetics of insects to explain how old genes can learn new tricks and how this can help us understand human evolution.
This lecture is available from Howard Hughes' BioInteractive website.

The genes that lie beneath: The work of Leslea Hlusko
Evolutionary biologist Leslea Hlusko's research takes her from the deserts of Ethiopia, where she hunts for hominid and primate fossils, to a baboon colony in San Antonio where she takes thousands of measurements of the primates' imposing canines. This research profile describes how the two projects are linked by a hunt for genetic variation, a key component of natural selection.

Evo in the news: Got lactase?  Advanced
The ability to digest milk is a recent evolutionary innovation that has spread through some human populations. This news brief from April 2007 describes how evolution has allowed different human populations to take advantage of the nutritional possibilities of dairying and links evolution with the prevalence of lactose tolerance among people of different ethnicities.

Evo in the news: Seeing the tree for the twigs  Advanced
Recent research has revealed that, in at least some ways, chimpanzees have evolved more than humans have. This news brief from May 2007 delves into this finding further and, in the process, debunks common misperceptions of human evolution.

Evo in the news: When it comes to evolution, headlines often get it wrong
Newly discovered fossils are prompting some scientists to consider a minor revision of the relationships shown on the human family tree. This news brief from September 2007 clarifies the occasionally misleading news coverage of the story.

Evo in the news: Genealogy enthusiasts mine DNA for clues to evolutionary history  Advanced
This news brief, from November 2007, turns an evolutionary lens on businesses that use DNA for genealogy research and, in the process, illuminates what their genetic tests really track.

Evo in the news: Evolution in the fast lane?  Advanced
Have humans, with all of our technological advances, exempted ourselves from further evolution? Perhaps not. This news brief, from February 2008, examines genetic research which suggests that human evolution may haved actually accelerated in our recent history.

Evo in the news: Ghosts of epidemics past
HIV and malaria both constitute global health threats, respectively affecting more than 30 million and 200 million people worldwide. This news brief from October 2008 describes new research that reveals an unexpected evolutionary link between the two.

Evo in the news: A fish of a different color
This news brief, from February 2006, describes how a mutated zebrafish gene may help us understand human evolution and the genes underlying human skin color. Humans and zebrafish both inherited the same pigmentation gene from their common ancestor.

Evo in the news: The evolutionary history of jogging
This news brief from March 2010 describes a new fitness trend: barefoot running. Though it might sound like just another fitness fad, soon to go the way of hula-hoops or jazzercise, this trend has a surprising connection to evolution.

Evo in the news: Evolving altitude aptitude
This news brief from October 2010 examines new research that makes it clear that Tibetan highlanders have not just acclimated to their mountain home; evolutionary adaptations have equipped them with unique physiological mechanisms for dealing with low oxygen levels.

Evo in the news: Making sense of ancient hominin DNA  Advanced
In March 2010 German researchers announced that they had managed to extract DNA from the 40,000 year old fossil bone from a child discovered in a Siberian cave and that it didn't match up to the known genetic sequences of either humans or Neanderthals! This news brief examines the evidence in more detail and considers what that evidence might — or might not — mean about such claims.

Evolution: Applications in human health and populations  Advanced
In a series of six lectures, scientists describe how evolutionary theory makes contributions to the field of human health through studies of the human genome, physiology, lifestyle, and interaction with the environment.
This resource appears at the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center website.

How are humans related to other primates?
In this two-part laboratory students analyze skull morphology and DNA sequences among primate species to answer one of the most meaningful questions in biology: How are humans related to other animals?

High altitude adaptations: The work of Emilia Huerta-Sánchez  Advanced
This research profile follows statistician and population geneticist Emilia Huerta-Sánchez as she studies the adaptations that allow Tibetan highlanders to live 13,000 feet above sea level without developing altitude sickness.

CSI: Olduvai Gorge. The work of Jackson Njau
This research profile follows paleoanthropologist Jackson Njau as he investigates ancient predators, like crocodiles and large cats, in an effort to understand how these organisms shaped the evolution of our human ancestors.

Teaching the Process of Molecular Phylogeny and Systematics: A Multi-Part Inquiry-Based Exercise
Students explore molecular data from Homo sapiens and four related primates and develop hypotheses regarding the ancestry of these five species by analyzing DNA sequences, protein sequences, and chromosomal maps.

The ChronoZoom Time Atlas of Earth History and Big History  Advanced
This resource presents Big History in a sequence of time scales through graphic panels. Each panel is accompanied by a page of text, discussing the historical features shown in the panel.