Scientists use fossils to reconstruct the evolutionary history of hominins—the group that includes modern humans, our immediate ancestors, and other extinct relatives. Today, our closest living relatives are chimpanzees, but extinct hominins are even closer. Where and when did they live? What can we learn about their lives? Why did they go extinct? Scientists look to fossils for clues.

Travel across a timeline that chronicles Seven Million Years of Human Evolution. This animation by the American Museum of Natural History shares how our ancient relatives’ teeth, thigh bones, toes, fingers, and skulls all help us better understand when, where, and how they lived on the planet before us.

Watch more videos about evolution, including Evolution 101 & How Natural Selection Works. Plus: Paleoartist John Gurche reconstructs the face of Homo naledi and Deep in the caves with Homo Naledi & the Rising Star Expedition.

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