On the Edge of Discovery

The leading center for the science of human origins

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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

Want to know more about the Institute of Human Origins? Explore our facts page to learn about our history, funding, faculty, students, and more
Fact Sheet

Fat of the land: What ancient bones tell us about the origin of the human diet | Jess Thompson

The Fat of the Land: What Ancient Bones tell us about the Origin of the Human Diet

When and how did our ancestors first make the evolutionary jump from a plant-eating primate to the meat-consuming creature we are today?

Jessica Thompson has led a team of scientists (including her IHO advisor Curtis Marean) that proposes a provocative new theory suggesting that prior to the advent of stone-tool making, scavenging inside-bone nutrients, such as marrow fat, was the critical first step in our becoming the planet’s top predatory species. Thompson proposes a timeline for this transition that is much earlier than previously thought.

Watch the video, or visit the event page to find out more!

Outreach

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. We believe that sharing the story of how we "became human" is as important as sharing the science.

Becoming human website
Ask An Anthropologist website

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.

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—

News

In 1899, when Arizona had not yet gained statehood and Arizona State University was a fledgling institution known as the Tempe Normal School, Zebulon Pearce was freshly-graduated with teachers cred

A new archaeological site discovered by an international and local team of scientists — including ASU researchers — working in Ethiopia shows that the origins of stone tool production are older tha

A mammal’s posture while moving, or locomotor posture, plays a key role in how variable the number of vertebrae in its spinal column can be across all members of that species, a team of researchers

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