National Geographic paleoartist John Gurche used fossils from a South African cave to reconstruct the face of Homo naledi, the newest addition to the genus Homo. Photo by Mark Thiessen/National Geographic hide caption

toggle caption Photo by Mark Thiessen/National Geographic

The area around the confluence of the Silverthrone and Klinaklini glaciers in southwestern British Columbia provides a glimpse into how the terrain traveled by Native Americans in Pleistocene times may have appeared. David J. Meltzer/Science hide caption

toggle caption David J. Meltzer/Science

Students Patrick Rohrer, Sarah Warthen, Alix Piven and Lauren Urane are led by Mercyhurst University Archeologist Andy Hemmings. Their project has picked up where Florida's State Geologist Elias Sellards left off in 1915. Sellards led an excavation of the site where workers digging a drainage canal found fossilized human remains. Greg Allen/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Greg Allen/NPR

An example of a human precision grip — grasping a first metacarpal from the thumb of a specimen of Australopithecus africanus that's thought to be 2 to 3 million years old. T.L. Kivell & M. Skinner hide caption

toggle caption T.L. Kivell & M. Skinner

An inside view of this fossil Pseudodon shell shows that the hole made by Homo erectus is exactly at the spot where the muscle attached to the shell. Poking at that spot would force the shell open. Henk Caspers/Naturalis Leiden/The Netherlands hide caption

toggle caption Henk Caspers/Naturalis Leiden/The Netherlands

Researcher Svante Pääbo, was able to extract a complete genome from this ancient human leg bone. Bence Viola/Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology hide caption

toggle caption Bence Viola/Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology

A stencil of an early human's hand in an Indonesian cave is estimated to be about 39,000 years old. Kinza Riza/Courtesy of hide caption

toggle caption Kinza Riza/Courtesy of

Research excavations like these in Siberia's Denisova Cave are yielding clues to the mating choices of early hominids. Bence Viola/Nature hide caption

toggle caption Bence Viola/Nature

The first prehistoric chef who looked out at a field of grass in Africa and said, "dinner!" may have helped our ancestors use new resources in new locations. Roberto Schmidt/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption Roberto Schmidt/AFP/Getty Images

NPR thanks our sponsors

Become an NPR sponsor