SINEs with internal promoters for RNA polymerase III are ubiquitous in the genomes of the animal kingdom, including invertebrates. Although the human Alu family, and related families, originates from 7SL RNA, all other SINEs originate from tRNA. SINEs have been amplified many times, altered in genomic organization and fixed in the population at certain stages of evolution. They can therefore be regarded as time-landmarks of evolution. It is proposed that both population genetics and molecular biology are required for understanding the expansion of SINEs.