Africa and Human Origins

Ethiopia This Geography Awareness Week, My Wonderful World has been highlighting the many facets of Africa to celebrate its uniquely diverse geography and people.

However, our relationship with Africa begins much further back in history, at the origins of humanity millions of years ago. Fossil and genetic evidence suggests that human history began in the valleys of Ethiopia, called the Cradle of Humanity. Here, paleo-anthropologists discovered the famous early hominid skeleton "Lucy" and, more recently, the world’s oldest fossilized hominid skeleton of a child.

Photograph of Ethiopia by Jodi Cobb/National Geographic Image Collection

Test Your Africa IQ with our interactive quiz on Google Earth.


  • The Genographic Project (National Geographic)

    The Genographic Project, led by geneticist Spencer Wells, is working to understand the human journey—where we came from and how we got to where we live today. The project is mapping humanity’s genetic journey out of Africa. And you can be a part of it! By participating in the Genographic Project, you can discover your deep ancestry and see the migration paths your ancestors took.

    General Information

  • The Human Origins Project (Smithsonian Institution)
  • The Institute of Human Origins (Arizona State University)
  • Human Origins (Natural History Museum of London)
  • Human Evolution Archaeology (Hominidae)
  • Human Origins (ThinkQuest)
  • Origins of the Human Race in Africa (BBC)
  • The Leakey Foundation
  • Journey of Mankind: The Peopling of the World (Bradshaw Foundation)

    Interactive Features

  • Becoming Human (Institute of Human Origins)
  • Atlas of the Human Journey (National Geographic)
  • Outpost: Human Origins (National Geographic)
  • Human Evolutionary Highway (National Geographic Magazine)
  • Human Journey (National Geographic Magazine)
  • Dikka Baby (National Geographic Magazine)
  • Caveman Facts (BBC)


  • Archaeology and Paleontology News (National Geographic)


    Classroom Activities

  • Human Evolution (PBS)

    Lesson Plans

    From National Geographic Xpeditions

  • Grades K-2: Bipedalism: Did Hominids Ride Bikes?
  • Grades K-2: The Dig: Them Bones
  • Grades 3-5: Paleoanthropology—What Is Bipedalism?
  • Grades 6-8: Paleoanthropology—A Complex Career Choice
  • Grades 9-12: Connecting the Dots: Genographic’s Markers in Context
  • Grades 9-12: Genographic: Mapping the Human Journey
  • Grades 9-12: Genographic: Permanent Markers
  • Grades 9-12: Genographic’s Legacy: Preservation and Projections
  • Grades 9-12: Paleo-What? The Life and Work of Emerging Explorer Zeray Alemseged

    From the Institute of Human Origins

  • Calculating Cousins
  • The Chromosome Connection
  • Building Bodies

    Genographic Project

  • Educators can receive the Genographic Project Public Participation Kit at a special discount.

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  • 3 responses to “Africa and Human Origins

    1. I was in an online forums about 3-4 months ago and the discussion of where man came from was being discussed. Half the people didnt buy that man came from Africa.


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