Early Humans

Early humans

How did man come to be? Naturalis attempts to answer this sweeping question in an original way. It does so through a set of unique fossils belonging to Homo erectus, one of our earliest ancestors.

Visit Naturalis

Experience the beauty and richness of the natural world at Naturalis in Leiden. Go exploring with the entire family in all our exhibition halls.


Eugène Dubois'

In the Early humans gallery, Dutch physician and researcher Eugène Dubois (1858–1940) invites you along on his mission to find the "missing link" between primates and mankind. He was the first to make such an attempt. The journey will take you to Java, where he found these fossils.


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The idea
behind Early humans

Scientifically speaking, the origin of humans remains shrouded in many mysteries. What is certain, at least, is that this debate is now an open conversation. This situation is very different from Eugène Dubois' own time, when his declaration that man was part of nature met with much resistance. His personal search for evidence forms the thread in this gallery. It lets you experience what never giving up means in the quest to find out the truth about something.

The highlight
of Early humans

Apart from the Homo erectus fossils – a skull cap, a femur and a molar – the main highlight of this gallery is the reconstruction of a prehistoric human. Dutch artists Adrie and Alfons Kennis created this lifelike prehistoric female especially for Naturalis, using Dubois' finds and the latest scientific insights as a guide. She meets your gaze with a shy smile, prompting thoughts of your own distant ancestors.


De vroege mens
De vroege mens