Alien From Earth
Who's Who In Human Evolution
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Who's Who In Human Evolution

Despite a fragmentary fossil record augmented by rare, sometimes surprising new finds like Homo floresiensis, paleoanthropologists have assembled a very solid general picture of human evolution. In this clickable illustration, follow the trajectory of hominin development as it is currently known. As the illustration makes clear, scientists have traced hominins—that is, species more closely related to humans than to other apes—all the way back through the australopithecines, like the three million-year-old Lucy, to Sahelanthropus tchadensis, who lived over six million years ago. The key feature that all these hominins share is bipedalism, which separates hominins from the primate line that eventually produced today's chimpanzees and other great apes.—Peter Tyson

Note: The illustration, adapted with permission from the Smithsonian Intimate Guide to Human Origins by Carl Zimmer (Smithsonian Books, 2005, p. 41), does not include all hominin species that experts have proposed but rather offers a representative sample. Thanks to Daniel Lieberman, Professor of Biological Anthropology at Harvard University, for consultation on this feature.

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© | Created November 2008