Meet our early human family

So far we have unearthed fossil evidence from more than 20 different human-like species, known as hominins, who are more closely related to humans than any of the apes alive today. 

Meet some of our oldest relatives below and discover what insights they can provide about our own evolution.

  • Homo floresiensis skull model
    Homo floresiensis (the 'hobbit')

    Nicknamed 'the hobbit' due to its diminutive stature after it was discovered in 2003, this human species was alive as little as 17,000 years ago. Find out about this extraordinary find.

  • Molar tooth from an ancient human found in Denisova Cave, Siberia
    Denisovans

    Denisovans are a recently discovered group of humans from Asia and, along with Neanderthals, are our closest extinct relatives. An astonishing genetic link has revealed that they interbred with some populations of modern humans.

  • Homo neanderthalensis
    Neanderthals (Homo neanderthalensis)

    Our close relative evolved in Europe and Asia while we were evolving in Africa. Find out about their lifestyle and theories about why they died out while we survived, plus watch an animation.

  • How a Neanderthal man may have looked
    Augmented reality Neanderthal

    Although these skilled hunter-gatherers died out around 30,000 years ago, with augmented reality you can now bring one to life in 3D in your home.

  • Model of what Homo heidelbergensis might have looked like.
    Homo heidelbergensis

    Thought of as distinctly human, explore what fossil remains have revealed about Homo heidelbergensis and why it may be the ancestor to our own species, Homo sapiens.

  • Reconstruction of Homo antecessor
    Homo antecessor

    Living in Spain around 800,000 years ago, Homo antecessor was one of the earliest human species in Europe. Recent finds suggest they may have been the first people to venture into Britain.

  • Reconstruction of early Homo erectus
    Homo erectus

    Homo erectus was a long-lived species surviving from 1.8 million to as late as 200,000 years ago. This hominin was the first to have human-like body proportions and the first known to have migrated out of Africa.

  • Reconstruction of an Australopithesis afarensis
    Australopithecus africanus

    Australopithecus africanus was the first australopithecine discovered, beginning a revolution in our understanding about what it means to be human.

  • Illustration of what Australopithecus afarensis might have looked like
    Australopithecus afarensis ('Lucy')

    Australopithecus afarensis is one of the best-known early hominid species thanks to an extraordinary fossil skeleton known as Lucy. Find out what Lucy has been able to reveal about her species.

  • How Lucy, the most famous Australopithecus afarensis individual, may have looked
    Augmented reality Lucy

    Australopithecus afarensis is one of the oldest early human relatives known to walk upright on 2 legs. Now, with augmented reality, you can watch the most famous individual, Lucy, walking around your room.

Piltdown Man hoax

Men studying the Piltdown skull, painting by John Cooke, 1915 © Geological Society of London

Once believed to be the 'missing link' between apes and humans, Piltdown Man was exposed as an audacious fraud.

Find out about the key suspects and research that could finally reveal the truth.

Investigate the hoax and suspects

Read news on the research

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