Evidence for human evolution

Fossil hominid skeleton known as Lucy

Fossils are the imprints or remains of organisms which were alive millions of years ago. The fossil record provides evidence for evolution.

Charles Darwin's theory states that all organisms alive today evolved from more simple life forms. Two fossils named Ardi and Lucy provide evidence for human evolution. Both were found in Africa.

Ardi is a female human-like fossilised skeleton that dates from 4.4 million years ago. Ardi's bones show that she was probably able to walk upright but she had very long arms and long big toes. The bones that make up Ardi's feet suggest that humans and chimpanzees evolved separately.

Lucy is also a female human-like fossilised skeleton, and dates from 3.2 million years ago. Lucy's bones suggest that she walked in an upright position, like a human, but possessed a relatively small ape-like skull. Lucy's foot bones show that she had similar feet to modern humans but with much more curved toes.

Many human-like fossils that provide additional evidence for human evolution were found by the archaeologists Mary and Louis Leakey. Mary was British and her husband, Louis, was Kenyan. The couple discovered fossils that date from 1.6 million years ago. The skeleton looks much more like that of a modern human than either Ardi or Lucy. This most recent skeleton suggests that humans may have evolved in Africa.