September 6, 2010 Millions of years ago, the natural environment was shaping us into the species we are now and humans evolved by natural selection. But as humans continue to evolve, we've turned the notion of natural selection on its head. Nature isn't the only force that picks the genes. Humans are doing it too.
September 6, 2010 Humans are still evolving, but cultural evolution is far outpacing genetic evolution. Our environment and technology are changing so rapidly that genetic adaptations can't keep up. So we're adapting by learning new things and passing that knowledge onto the next generation.
August 31, 2010 Shaun Parker moved from Menasha, Wis., to Los Angeles to pursue his dream to work in film. After nearly two decades of setbacks and stalling, Parker began crafting a new life story — one that got a kick-start with an appearance at the storytelling series Mortified.
August 30, 2010 In the history of the world, every culture in every location at every point in time has developed some supernatural belief system. And believing in God may have been evolutionarily advantageous to humans as it provided a framework for promoting social good.
August 23, 2010 Autism has made biomedical engineering student Lisa Daxer feel like an outsider. "I have a weird brain," she says. But it has also helped her become something of an expert on the social behavior of people without autism.
August 23, 2010 We need tears to keep our eyes lubricated, but why should streams of salty drops spew forth from our eyes, blurring our vision and making our eyes puffy when we get emotional? Throughout evolution, tears may have added a new dimension to human communication.
August 16, 2010 Humans evolved a brain with an extraordinary knack for language, but just how and when we began using language is still largely a mystery. Early human communication may have been in sign language or song, and scientists are studying other animals to learn how human language evolved.
August 9, 2010 Our ability to think in symbols — the notion that objects can represent ideas — is one of the key traits that make us human. We weren't always symbolic thinkers, and scientists are trying to figure out when our minds evolved this ability.
August 9, 2010 Our remarkable brain has evolved from very primitive parts. From one perspective, it's a masterpiece. From another, it's just 3 pounds of inefficient jelly. But out of all that jelly, human traits emerge, including observational learning and high-level cognition.
August 2, 2010 Our earliest ancestors ate a diet of raw food that required immense energy to digest. But once we started eating nutrient-rich meat, our energy-hungry brains began growing and our guts began to shrink. Cooking that food not only made it safer, but also easier to digest.
August 2, 2010 The shoulder altered the course of human evolution by giving us survival skills we never could have imagined without it. The shape of the joint allowed us to develop tools and weapons we could throw, like rocks and spears. And advanced weaponry meant better meals.
July 26, 2010 The evolving anatomy of the human hand gave humans great dexterity and fine motor skills. With these advances came the ability to make stone tools and primitive knives. Anthropologists are now studying how our ancestors learned to make tools, and how these tools shaped our bodies.
July 19, 2010 As humans made the evolutionary trek from the trees to the ground, we evolved to be distance runners, trading speed for endurance. And according to one biologist, this stamina allowed early humans to tire out their prey.
July 19, 2010 The human foot has changed shape in the past few million years, springing an arch that enabled us to run and walk more proficiently than our ape-like ancestors who grasped branches and swung from the trees. Now, researchers are trying to determine when that change took place.
July 5, 2010 Humans are descended from ancient fish, and we've kept many of our fishy genes. So when scientists try to figure out how human evolution works, they often study fish instead. A tiny fish called a stickleback evolved a variety of new colors at the end of the last Ice Age, and studying them is helping scientists understand the way human skin color evolves.
July 5, 2010 One very important human ancestor was an ancient fish. Though it lived 375 million years ago, this fish called Tiktaalik had shoulders, elbows, legs, wrists, a neck and many other basic parts that eventually became part of us. This is the first story in our summer series The Human Edge, in which we examine how evolution created the most versatile creature on the planet.