Understanding Our Past main content.

Understanding Our Past

Part of Anne and Bernard Spitzer Hall of Human Origins.

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© AMNH / Denis FinninSpitzer Hall of Human Origins

This hall is about all of us--about who we are and where we come from. Although the human family originated many millions of years ago, we know a great deal about our remarkable past. The rich human fossil record dates back more than six million years, and scientists are finding exciting new specimens all the time.

The emerging field of genomics enables researchers to use the countless genetic clues in human DNA to understand more about our identity, both past and present. Fossil evidence and genomic information powerfully agree on many points, and are helping scientists piece together the origin and evolution of the entire hominid family, including our species, Homo sapiens.