EXHIBITS: Human Evolution Online

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Science  20 Apr 2001:
Vol. 292, Issue 5516, pp. 403
DOI: 10.1126/science.292.5516.403b

In 1974 paleoanthropologist Donald Johanson found an elbow bone poking from sediments in Ethiopia that belonged to 3.2-million-year-old Lucy, then the oldest known human ancestor. Becoming Human, a new Web site from Johanson's Institute of Human Origins at Arizona State University, pulls out all the multimedia stops in telling the story of Lucy and human evolution.

The site is built around a half-hour Web documentary in which narrator Johanson describes his discovery of what he calls “the ape that shook up man's family tree.” The film then moves on to other major finds and, with footage of African scenery, digs, and bones, explains how scientists locate and interpret fossils. Visitors can excavate further by clicking on Exhibits—pop-up windows on dozens of topics such as fossil dating and the out-of-Africa debate. Nifty graphics include a panoramic view of a dig and rotatable 3D hominid skulls, from 4.4- million-year-old Ardipithecus ramidus to Homo sapiens.

Rounding out Becoming Human are a glossary, references, Web links, and a news section (including the March report of a skull that may unseat Lucy). Come May you'll also find the Learning Center, with materials for precollege teachers.


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