Human evolution

Wanting to understand who we are, where we come from and how we evolved is part of what makes us human.

This an exciting time to be examining human evolution. Intriguing fossil and archaeological discoveries, combined with innovative techniques and DNA research, are transforming scientists' understanding of our ancient past.

We now know of more than 20 hominin species that are part of our family tree. At least half of these species are based on fossils unearthed in the last 30 years.

Museum scientists are at the forefront of research on the migration, characteristics and capabilities of these early human relatives, and the origin and cultural development of our species, Homo sapiens.

Trace the evolution of humans since our lineage split from that of chimpanzees, explore what we have in common with our ancient relatives and discover research that is helping to answer questions about our past and future.

Meet your ancient relatives

Embark on a seven-million-year journey of evolution and see fossil and artefact discoveries in the Human Evolution gallery.

How humans evolved

Early human family tree

Meet some of the members of your human family tree.

Our closest relative

Discover more about Neanderthals.

Humans in Britain

Latest human evolution news

Guest feature

Alice Roberts: How the Museum has inspired me

TV presenter, author and academic Alice Roberts shares memories of the Museum and how it influenced her fascination with human evolution.

In collaboration with Google Arts & Culture

The theory of evolution

Audio exhibition about the theory of evolution, which underpins modern biology. Narrated by Dr Tim Littlewood.

Human origins

Thanks to the fossil record, we know humans have evolved over millions of years, through a complex process of change. Narrated by Prof Chris Stringer.

Books by Museum evolution experts and friends