Behavior

Image of Rick Potts looking a field of stone handaxes

Behavioral Evidence

Explore the evidence of early human behavior—from ancient footprints to stone tools and the earliest symbols and art – along with similarities and differences in the behavior of other primate species

Image of primate using tools.

Humans are part of the biological group known as primates. We sure are an unusual species of primate, though!

Footprint of Koobi Fora hominin

Explore what scientists can learn from studying footprints left by early humans.

Image of modern human hand holding a stone tool.

Stone tools provide evidence about the technologies, dexterity, particular kinds of mental skills, and innovations that were within the grasp of early human toolmakers.

Image of early humans collecting food after a hunt.

Explore the evidence for some of the ways that early humans were able to get food.

Jomon Pot

Early humans may have made bags from skin long ago. About 20,000 years ago, modern humans began making pottery.

Image of an artist reconstruction of a prehistoric shelter.

Over time, early humans began to gather at hearths and shelters to eat and socialize.

Our ancestors often buried the dead together with beads and other symbolic objects.

Image of monk scribing characters down on a piece of parchment.

These objects have marks that may have been used to count or store information. From simple beginnings like these came our ability to store enormous amounts of information.

Image of modern human hand cutting through an animal hide to make clothing.

Awls and perforators were used to pierce holes in clothing. Later, humans used bone and ivory needles to sew warm, closely fitted garments.

Image of early human creating art on a cave wall.

By 40,000 years ago, humans were creating musical instruments and two- and three-dimensional images of the world around them.