Adventures In Human Evolution

Adventures In Human EvolutionThis landmark series about the evolution of man answers fundamental questions. Who were our ancestors? When did they first walk the earth? Why did man survive when other species became extinct? These questions have inspired scientists throughout the ages to piece together the fragmentary clues the early humans left behind.

This direct and involving story of their detective work in search of the truth about our evolution takes us through the breakthroughs and setbacks in the epic journey towards the truth about our shared past, and we discover that our early ancestors were, in many ways, people like us. At the heart of this series are stunning dramatic recreations which bring into focus the lives of the early humans.

Contact - For 200,000 years the Neanderthals lived unchallenged in Europe with no need to change their lifestyle. But 30,000 years ago climate upheaval and the arrival of modern humans from the east forced them to adapt or die. This final programme in the series exploring evolution seeks similarities between the Neanderthals and modern humans and, drawing on the latest archaeological findings, re-creates the moment when the two species converged in Europe.

First Born - The discovery of a child's skeleton on the edge of the Kalahari desert gave rise to the theory of a species that straddled the boundary between human and ape. Did these australopithecines, or upright apes, flourish because of the abandonment of vegetarianism?

Body - The discovery during the eighties of a skeleton that was nicknamed Nariokotome Boy confirmed that "ape-man" lived about one-and-a-half million years ago in a body that was practically human, yet with a tiny brain and the nature of a wild animal. This episode looks at how the notion of a missing link moved from theory to fact.

Love - Archaeological discoveries have revealed how Europe was colonised and have uncovered a decisive moment in our evolution when the human feelings of friendship, trust and love came into being.

Exodus - 'The discovery of bones, tools and artefacts at two archaeological sites on Africa's southern coast have helped scientists to calculate that people indistinguishable from the modern human species (homo sapiens) first appeared in Africa about 150,000 years ago. This programme explains why these early African beach-dwellers left their homeland to colonize other continents.

Human - It has long been thought that Ice Age cave paintings could provide a window to our past, but their meaning has remained a mystery. Now, using research into hallucination, the dances of the Namibian bushmen and South African rock art, experts are beginning to decode these stunning pictures.

Watch the full documentary now (playlist - 5 hours)

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Ratings: 7.73/10 from 22 users.
  • Mike

    AWESOME! thanks for the upload

  • Collette

    There is one thing puzzling me. From all the documentaries I've seen about the evolution and origin of man, I thought the people, homo sapiens, that came to Europe from Africa, they came already evolved, changed to certain level. Here they are very obvious like from A've missed on some information.

  • over the edge

    only half done. but so far worth watching

  • Waldo

    @ Colette

    There wre several hominid species alive at the same time. I can't get this doc to play, it's taking too long to buffer, but I think parts of it are about neanderthal, an evolutionary cousin who's line died instead of evolving into us. Its called adaptive radiation, which means a species evolves into several similar but different species possessing taxonomic diversity or morphological disparity. I have never heard a theory about when or how the neaderthals got to Europe, but I know our line and thiers met there and challenged each other for food and shelter. So, our particular species, homosapien, was evolved into our present form by the time we got to Europe, we just had a cousin living there already that we may have killed off some say.

  • ProudinUS

    @Waldo

    Hey buddy, what do you think about macro evolution?

  • Waldo

    @ ProudinUS

    Hey man, good to talk to you again. I believe it to be the way all species have come about. The evidence for this is overwhelming. I know it seems like there hasn't been enough time for that to be so, that all living creatures came from a common ancestor. But if you think about the right way there has been plenty of time. The key is natural selection, which does away with the "came about by chance" issue. Mutations are random, but natural selection steers these mutations in such a way that we end up with all the wonderful biological diversity that we see around us.

    Think about it like this, say the achievement of a new species is equal to rolling all sixes on four dice at the same time. Now if you just roll all four at once over and over it would take a really long time to get all sixes by chance. However, if we leave each die that comes up as six each time we roll and only re-roll the ones that don't, you will get all sixes in just a few rolls. This is like natural selection letting the die with the favorable trait, in this case the number six, live and the others die off until they come up as six as well. You can try this yourself and count the number of times you have to roll the dice if you throw them all at one time over and over versus if you leave the sixes and re-roll the others. You will see that you come up with the new species, or all sixes, much faster if you apply the selection process.

    Plus the fossil record is so full of transitional species its unreal. Of course the opponents of evolution refuse to admit this, but it is true. You can also look at the development of embryos. They move through different stages and develop things like gills and tails that fade away before they are actually born, its like they have some of the old genes for these things still in their genetic sequence.

    For me though the one thing that really proves it is the fact that we have 46 chromosomes and chimps have 48. If you look at our chromosomes you can plainly see were one is actually two that have been fused together. We can tell because our chromosomes and ape chromosomes have a certain structure, they have 2 telomeres, one at both ends, and a centromere in the center. When we look at chromosome 2 in humans we see two centromere like structures on the ends and one telomere structure in the center. In other words it looks just like you took a chromosome and broke it in half and joined the two ends together, making them the center. For me that is pretty strong evidence that at some time an ape had a mutation that fused two chromosomes together at the same time dropping one chromosome all together, and viola, a hominid was born. Then the species went through what is called adaptive radiation, explained above, and eventually we got homosapien.

    Of course my lack of belief in any kind of god means that this is easy for me to accept. I understand that if someone believed in a creator then it would be hard to reconcile these things in their mind. I don't hold anything against those that believe in creation, as long as they don't expect it to be taught in science class or that everyone else must also believe as they do. If you want your child to be taught creation it should be done in church, or if you attend a private college or school that teaches religion or theology it could be taught there. But, you can't expect a science teacher to teach things that are not science and can not be proven in an empirical sense, they have no education in such things and wouldn't have a clue what they were teaching.

  • Waldo

    Just to make it clear, I didn't come up with the dice experiment above. I saw it in a documentary and tried it for myself, its really easy. Oh, and if you wold like to read more about the chromosome fusion theory you can go to Google and type in "chromosome fusion evolution" and get many articles explaining it better than I can.

  • ProudinUS

    @Waldo

    Thanks Waldo.My son was trying to tell me about macro vs MICRO evolution. He goes to church regulary with his mom while I stay at home and watch football. You knwow the typical US family. Well it used to be. I don't know much about what he was talking about and just wondered if someone else could put it in a way I could understand.

    Once again thanks man.

  • Waldo

    @ ProudinUS

    No problem man, but I really didn't explain the two concepts. For biologists, there is no relevant difference between microevolution and macroevolution. Both happen in the same way and for the same reasons, so there is no real reason to differentiate them. When biologists do use different terms, it is simply for descriptive reasons. Creationist tend to use the terms in an ontological sense, meaning they are trying to describe the two as different processes, which they are not. They will often say they accept microevolution, small changes within a gene pool that never create a new species, but do not accept macroevolution, changes adding up over time to create a entirely new species that can not mate with the old species. They often use dogs as an example and say that they may get bigger or smaller or change color but they will never turn into a cat. Creationists act as if there is some magic line between microevolution and macroevolution, but no such line exists as far as science is concerned. Macroevolution is merely the result of a lot of microevolution over a long period of time. Simply put, evolution is the result of changes in genetic code. The genes encode the basic characteristics a life form will have, and there is no known mechanism that would prevent small changes (microevolution) from ultimately resulting in macroevolution. While genes can vary significantly between different life forms, the basic mechanisms of operation and change in all genes are the same. If you find a creationist arguing that microevolution can occur but macroevolution cannot, simply ask them what biological or logical barriers prevent the former from becoming the latter — and listen to the silence.

  • Waldo

    The above is a combination of my words and an arguement posted online. You can find it by going to Google and typing in macro versus micro evolution. Just wanted to give credit where credit is due.

  • Mike

    Hey waldo, have you ever thought of evolution as a fractal? I watched the documentary on here about fractals, and I can't help but apply it to evolution. I'm a firm believer in evolution now, but after learning of fractals, i find it almost impossible to dispute evolution. thoughts?

  • Lary Nine

    @Waldo~
    Excellent explanation using the 4x dice. I saw it too... I think it was a BBC Richard Dawkins documentary. Good stuuf, too, about the 48:46 chromosome ratio in the chimp/human comparison...and the telomere/centromere zinger! And I especially appreciated your intellectual honesty ("credit where credit is due"). It shows how for us 'wise apes' have come in building character.

  • Lary Nine

    @Mike~
    Yes! To me, it seems that fractals are the symmetry of material reality...the structural underpinning of everything. There's no doubting that it's a pervasive organizing principle throughout 'creation' (to use a loaded term) including, perhaps especially, biological diversity! Evolution---what a trip!

  • riley

    nice doc.

    some shortcomings - the humans arriving in europe are presented as africans. in actuality, there was a period of 20-30K years during which humans adapted to extremely harsh northern climates in central asia and, consequently, improved their technology kit, between the african-exodus & european incursion.

    also, no mention of habilis - the version of hominid between australopithecus & erectus.

    regarding the first criticism, one of the scientists even goes so far as to assert that the first modern humans migrating into europe were dark-skinned. that is probably incorrect. not a major problem, but it somewhat glosses over the intervening period of adaptation, again, beween the exodus from africa and in-migration to europe, which this doc neglects entirely.

    this was produced in 2000, so maybe that aspect of human paleo-migration wasnt as well known as now. most of it has been derived from dna studies.

    at any rate, the human out-migration is, itself, a very interesting tale of challenge and adaptation. there are other docs on this site which deal with that aspect.

    on the whole though, a very nice doc and worth watching.

  • Waldo

    @ Mike

    No, I had never really thought of it as a fragmented pattern repeating the whole within its own structure indefinetly. But I suppose that does make sense. If you break down macroevolution it is simply the same process taking place on smaller scales, producing less significant changes, microevolution. Think about how we represent an evolutionary chain, with a tree. And a tree is most definetly a fractal shape. That's a very profound insight, thank you.

    I wonder if any mathematician has ever taken the tree of evolution produced by biologists and represented it mathematically? We might be able to discern a regular pattern of change over time, you know like a mathematical map of evolutionary progress. I wonder if we would see a long steady change or a sort of stagger and strut pattern with no predictable progression.

    @ Lary Nine

    Thank you, that was very flattering. But, I am only repeating the insights and assertions of genuises. One day I will make my contribution, but not yet- I am still in the process of gaining an education. well, I suppose that process never ends, but you know what I mean.

  • Lary Nine

    @Waldo~
    I really think Mandelbrot was into something very important when he introduced us all to fractal geometry. Now everywhere I look, I see fractals. It's used in "JPEG" photo imaging...did you know that it's at the heart of image compression technology?
    It's a short leap to take fractal mathematics from images to processes...right?

  • Top_Quark

    overall good documentary but runs a bit slow due to long senseless music and visual sequences

  • http://www.futurebird.com Susan Donovan

    Do you think the scientists seem to operate on the fiction that some cultures are essentially 'frozen in time' and immune to change?

  • Michael Scales

    Scientists don't operate on fiction of any kind.

  • MAllen Documentaires

    Science told us back in 1950s Asbestos was ok for kids to play in. They also said Lucky Strikes cigarettes were good for you. And they put in the textbooks the Universe came from "nothing" ... if that isn't fiction then explain to me what is.

  • MAllen Documentaires

    If your naive enough to actually believe man Evolved from a primate over "Millions" of years, your not helping Science move forward, in fact your the reason Science can't make any progress on how man got here.

  • Mandu Gogi

    Scientists paid off by tobacco growers have a different agenda than the worldwide cross-section of academia that support evolutionary biology with factual evidence. You creationist zealot trolls need to develop more intelligent arguments before you flamebait the discussion threads on every piece of media related to evolutionary biology on the internet. You are obviously not one that can be reasoned with, so please up your game with something more than this paranoid fictional scientific conspiracy nonsense. Thank you.

  • http://www.thezeitgeistmovement.com Darko Kelemen

    Science doesn't care whether your naive or not. It's either gonna prove your theory wrong or right. A garden of Eden and a talking snake... now you tell me who's being naive...

  • D. Scott Whitaker

    At 7:28 they say their is no evidence of anyone residing in these caves. Don't they mention at the beginning of the program that they found a bunch culinary refuse and flint blades. I think that is evidence that they lived in these caves.

  • MAllen Documentaires

    I don't support the Bible I made that clear so who are you calling a Creationist TRoll?