Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

Early Human Evolution and Culture


National Middle School Science Standards

Life Science

National Curriculum Standards for Social Studies

Key Terms

paleoanthropology, fossil, archaeology, human evolution, extinction, taxonomy, phylogeny

Key Concepts

  • What it means to be human
  • Diet and culture of early humans 
  • Interpreting the family tree of humans
  • Factors shaping human evolution 
  • Technology used by paleoanthropologists

Resource Types

Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)

The Early Human Evolution teaching resources support students in meeting the following middle school NGSS Performance Expectations.

Life Science

MS-LS1 From Molecules to Organisms: Structures and Processes

  • MS-LS1-4 Use argument based on empirical evidence and scientific reasoning to support an explanation for how characteristic animal behaviors and specialized plant structures affect the probability of successful reproduction of animals and plants respectively.

MS-LS4 Biological Evolution: Unity and Diversity

  • MS-LS4-1 Analyze and interpret data for patterns in the fossil record that document the existence, diversity, extinction, and change of life forms throughout the history of life on Earth under the assumption that natural laws operate today as in the past.
  • MS-LS4-2 Apply scientific ideas to construct an explanation for the anatomical similarities and differences among modern organisms and between modern and fossil organisms to infer evolutionary relationships.

National Curriculum Standards For Social Studies (NCSS)

The Early Human Evolution resources align with the following Social Studies standards listed below that integrate anthropology concepts with anthropology skills.

People, Places, and Environments

  • The study of people, places, and environments enables us to understand the relationship between human populations and the physical world.
  • During their studies, learners develop an understanding of spatial perspectives, and examine changes in the relationship between peoples, places and environments.
Resource Type
Subject Guides
Grade Level
Learning Standards
National Curriculum Standards for Social Studies
Anthropology and Social Studies, Life Science