The American Museum of Natural History has put together a fascinating animated timeline graphic that shows how scientists are using fossils to learn more about the extict origins of modern humans. While the supply of fossils is scarce, there is enough for experts to deduct how these ancestors walked and moved, what tools they used and when certain physical features were either gained or lost.
Scientists use fossils to reconstruct the evolutionary history of hominins—the group that includes modern humans, our immediate ancestors, and other extinct relatives. Today, our closest living relatives are chimpanzees, but extinct hominins are even closer. Where and when did they live? What can we learn about their lives? Why did they go extinct?