Through the lens of evolution, a belief in God serves a very important purpose: Religious belief set us on the path to modern life by stopping cheaters and promoting the social good. iStockphoto.com hide caption

itoggle caption iStockphoto.com

Natural-Born Storyteller? Shaun Parker moved from Menasha, Wis., to Los Angeles nearly 20 years after an illness in his family put his adolescent dreams on hold. "I liked the idea that I was meant to be something more," Parker says. "I always said that we're kind of the sum total of the decisions we make in life, and I just felt like I could very easily make the decisions that lead me away from that path of being more, whatever it is." Katie Falkenberg for NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Katie Falkenberg for NPR

Lisa Daxer is a biomedical engineering major at Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio. She says her autism has made her feel like an outsider but has also helped her become something of an expert on the social behavior of people she calls "neurotypicals." Skip Peterson for NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Skip Peterson for NPR

A supporter of the Spanish team cries while watching the World Cup final soccer match, which Spain won 1-0.  Crying may have evolved as a signal to those who were in close physical proximity to us, but it also adds a powerful dimension to interpersonal communication Dani Pozo/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption Dani Pozo/AFP/Getty Images

Liam, a capuchin monkey, will respond differently to a simple test if another monkey receives a more favorable food reward for performing the same task. Laurent Pretot hide caption

itoggle caption Laurent Pretot

Alex, the famous African gray parrot, learned elements of the English language and shattered the notion that parrots are only capable of mimicking words. Scientists believe human language may have evolved from hand signals and song. NPR hide caption

itoggle caption NPR

As humans evolved, our throats got longer and our mouths got smaller -- physiological changes that enabled us to effectively shape and control sound. According to fossils, the first humans who had an anatomy capable of speech patterns appeared about 50,000 years ago. Hulton Archive/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Is This Evolution? This is just one version of the iconic illustration of evolution, but reporter Alix Spiegel believes this type of depiction doesn't tell enough of the story of what truly makes us human. Giovanni Caselli hide caption

itoggle caption Giovanni Caselli

The colors in this 3D rendering of a human brain represent different regions of the cortex, the wrinkly outer part of the brain that contains the most evolutionarily advanced regions. Courtesy of the Allen Institute for Brain Science hide caption

itoggle caption Courtesy of the Allen Institute for Brain Science

Om Nom Nom: As we began to shy away from eating primarily fruit, leaves and nuts and began eating meat, our brains grew. We developed the capacity to use tools, so our need for large, sharp teeth and big grinders waned. From left, a cast of teeth from a chimpanzee, Australopithecus afarensis and a modern human. William Kimbel/Institute of Human Origins hide caption

itoggle caption William Kimbel/Institute of Human Origins

The human shoulder (above) allows the arm to hang freely and enables us to flex the arm at the elbow and perform tasks in front of us with ease. Because of its location and structure, the human arm is great for throwing. The ape shoulder (below), by contrast, allows for a different range of motion and is more suited to hanging from trees. Maggie Starbard/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Maggie Starbard/NPR

A flint-knapper makes sharp stone flakes by striking a flint "core" with a hammerstone. Human Origins Initiative hide caption

itoggle caption Human Origins Initiative

Feet On The Ground: Barefoot runners tend to land on the balls of their feet rather than on their heels the way most shoe-runners do. Rick Roeber went shoeless in 2003 and has clocked more than 13,000 barefoot miles since. Charlie Riedel/AP hide caption

itoggle caption Charlie Riedel/AP

Anthropologist Brian Richmond is trying to determine what the footprints of modern humans can tell us about how we evolved. NPR hide caption

itoggle caption NPR

An illustration of what the sea creature Tiktaalik may have looked like. Known as a "fishapod," Tiktaalik bridged the gap between sea living and land living creatures, and played an important evolutionary role on our journey to becoming human. Zina Deretsky/National Science Foundation hide caption

itoggle caption Zina Deretsky/National Science Foundation
Gregoire Vion