Evolution is a fundamental fact of the history of life on the earth. The natural history of humans is more than six million years long, much longer than that of civilizations, which did not begin until less than ten thousand years ago. In the past six million years, our ancestors left abundant fossils, enabling us to trace their evolutionary paths. To study the origin and evolution of humans, scientists rely not only on evidence from below the ground, but also on studies of living primates.
Humans and two species of chimpanzees shared a common ancestor. In fact, all apes evolved from a common ancestor. However, humans are distinct in that the morphology and function of their hands and feet are completely differentiated. Humans are the only bipedal species among mammals. Bipedalism was the first step our ape ancestors took on the evolutionary journey toward human forms. The hominid footprints fossilized in volcanic ashes dating from 3.6 million years ago shows that hominids had acquired the upright and bipedal striding gait of modern humans by this date.
Here in this exhibition room, visitors can gain a basic understanding of paleoanthropology, including primate evolution and human paleontology.