The origin, history, and singularity of our species has fascinated storytellers, philosophers and scientists throughout, and doubtless before, recorded history. Anthropology, the modern-era discipline that deals with these issues, is a notoriously contentious field, perhaps because the topic at hand - the nature of our own species - is one that is difficult or impossible to approach in an unbiased way. Recently, molecular genetics has increasingly contributed to this field. Here, I briefly discuss three areas where I believe molecular studies are likely to be of decisive importance in the future. These concern the questions of where and when our species originated, what the genetic background for characters that differ between us and apes is, and how the phenotypic traits that vary among human groups have evolved.