On the Edge of Discovery

The leading center for the science of human origins


The Institute of Human Origins is one of the preeminent research organizations in the world devoted to the science of human origins

A research center of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (link is external), IHO pursues an integrative strategy for research and discovery central to our founding mission. We bridge social, earth, and life science approaches to the most important questions concerning the course, causes, and timing of events in the human career over deep time.

IHO fosters awareness of human origins and its relevance to modern society through innovative outreach programs that provide timely, accurate information for both educators and the general public.

Learn about Lucy

Learn about the Australopithecus afarensis skeleton, "Lucy," discovered in Hadar, Ethiopia on November 24, 1974
Lucy's Story

Know the facts

What to know more about the Institute of Human Origins? Explore our IHO Facts page to learn about our history, funding, faculty, students, and more!

Upcoming Events

Travel and learn with us

Primates and Paleoanthropology Expedition
June 8–20, 2018
Hosted by Ian Gilby, PhD

Are you ready for a real adventure that is more than just viewing wild animals from a platform or Land Rover? This is the trip for you!

Follow long-time chimpanzee researcher Ian Gilby through the forest at arguably the world’s most famous chimpanzee research site—the Gombe Stream Research Center, founded by Jane Goodall in 1965. Experience the quintessential African animal reserve at the Ngorongoro Crater and visit Olduvai Gorge—one of the most important paleoanthropological sites in the world—and end the trip in Rwanda at the famed Dian Fossey reserve.

You won't find a trip of this depth and immersion in understanding our closest primate cousins offered anywhere else. Reserve your spot today!

Learn more and RSVP


From our very beginning, the Institute of Human Origins focused one "leg" of our mission on public outreach. Our founding members believe that scientists are the best interpreters of their own research for the public. Our research is human history, and we believe that sharing the story of how we "became human" with the public is as important as sharing the science.

Ask An Anthropologist

Inspired by Ask A Biologist and our Webby-award winning website Becoming Human, Ask An Anthropologist aspires to build an online community of science and social studies educators focused on middle- and high-school learners.

Many resources on the web provide facts about how we became human, but we provide classroom teachers with curricular tools and content that engage young people in human origins and scientific methods.

Find answers to such questions as—

Becoming Human

Becoming Human is a Webby award-winning and American Association for the Advancement of Science approved website, and one of the ways we teach paleoanthropological science to online users of all ages.


Imagine a year in Africa when summer never arrives. The sky takes on a gray hue during the day and glows red at night. Flowers do not bloom. Trees die in the winter.

What makes humans special? It's a question mankind has puzzled over for centuries.

It’s easy to watch the evening news and assume Homo sapiens is one of the most recalcitrant species on the planet.

Evolutionary Foundations of Human Uniqueness Symposium

What made us human?

In 2014, the ASU Institute of Human Origins received a $4.9 million grant from the John Templeton Foundation to investigate how key traits in human evolution played crucial roles in our emergence. Large brains, long life spans, social cooperation, and complex communication skills are among those behavioral, cognitive, and emotional differences that set us apart.

This public symposium presented the cumulative preliminary results from 11 different research projects to interweave some answers into how we became human. Learn more.

Interested in emerging human origins research?

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