Our species, Homo sapiens, is an oddity among the life forms on this planet. Our societies are much larger and more complex than that of any other species, and our tools and artifacts are vastly more sophisticated than those made by any other creature.
We humans view the world, and communicate with one another, through a symbolic lens made possible by extraordinarily complex cognition. It has been some six million years since our lineage’s split from the chimpanzee’s, yet only in the last few hundred thousand years have we spread across the planet to occupy virtually every terrestrial habitat, the culmination of an extraordinary series of evolutionary events that have no parallel elsewhere in the Earth’s biota.
Understanding how and why these transformations occurred is one of the most compelling mysteries in all of science, and a puzzle whose solution lies at the heart of what it means to be human. Our research is collaborative—enlisting the resources of scientists and people who, like you, are interested in moving the science of human origins forward to “discover the future of our past.”
Yohannes Haile-Selassie, PhD
Director, Institute of Human Origins
Professor, School of Human Evolution and Social Change
Arizona State University