First Out of Africa

First Out of Africa

2001, Science  -   81 Comments
Ratings: 8.22/10 from 153 users.

On a cluster of islands deep in a Bay of Bengal live a group of people who have hidden away from the modern world. For centuries they fought off anyone who tried to intrude. Marco Polo called them cannibals. Their origins are a mystery. Where they came from, how long they have been there, who they are... no one knows. But could these islanders hold the key to the mystery of our own origins? An expedition sets out to the Andaman Islands to unravel the secrets of the people whose past could solve the riddle of human evolution.

The ancient tribes of the Andaman's have always mystified explorers. They live in the heart of South-East Asia, yet are very small and very dark-skinned. They look like African pygmies. How or when they came to these islands is a puzzle. It is thought they may have been washed ashore there hundreds of years ago from a slave ship, but new evidence suggests another explanation. When biochemist, Dr. Erika Hagelberg, extracted DNA from Andaman hair samples gathered a hundred years ago she realized that the Andaman islanders could be far more important than anyone have ever imagined.

She had discovered what seemed to be a group of hunter-gatherers caught in a time warp. Believing that the Andaman islanders could even be the living ancestors of modern mankind, she set out to solve the mystery of their origin. She realized their past could be a vital link to understanding the evolution of modern man.

Biochemist Erika Hagelberg has been involved in a number of high-profile forensic identification cases, but this story begins when she came across a huge collection of hair samples gathering dust in a drawer. They have been brought back from the Andaman Islands by the pioneering anthropologist Radcliffe Brown in 1908. Over the centuries explorers have collected tons of body parts which lie forgotten in museum stores.

Until techniques for extracting DNA from bones and hair were developed they appeared completely valueless. When Radcliffe Brown visited the islands early in the 20th century he brought back an enormous amount of material. But even he never solved the mystery of how the people who resembled African pygmies had ended up in Asia.

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4 years ago

I am shock but that was just a cover up from the indian Government and its authorities. It's clear they are trying their best to destort history and write Africa out of it. They can't stomach the fact that they are not the indigenous people of their so called continent. That is why the block the British lady and rather sent their own Indian scientists who already had pre conceived ideas of Asian as the original people. It's Pure corruption

Robert Duhamel
5 years ago

She never had taken a flesh sample before !
She never had contacted India before dropping in with her bunch of Yahooos !
What kind of stupid broads have we created ?

And she seems to think soooooo much of herself; she even lets us look at her smilling....

5 years ago

So sad these people are slowly being exterminated.

6 years ago

What a b*tch. Leave them alone.

7 years ago

The only interesting piece was getting the DNA 9at the end of the film) but after a lot of waffle, repetition we did not discover the results. A woman alone in India was never going to get anywhere with bureaucracy. This film was a waste of time. Cannot believe she undertook this journey twice without first obtaining the obligatory permit to visit the island.

7 years ago

Andaman people are a first round of the earliest genetically engineered modern human races. And after them the other races were created. Btw, time doesnt exist, so make what you want out of the idea of a timeline. Most of humanity is genetically engineered from that one thin branch out of Africa. The Khemites (Ancient Egyptians) were involved in this alchemy and they were and are of the black alien gods. Norman Begrun NASA scientist and author of the book, "The Ringmakers of Saturn" states that he has seen NASA images of 8' tall jet black people coming off of 70,000 m wide spacecrafts. The dark heavily melanated skin is suited to space travel to cope with the high radiation levels in space. These true Africans, that the rest of the human race was genetically engineered from (the thin branch), these Africans are the children of those jet black aliens. Caucasian race (East Indian/Arab) was spliced with dog (humanized wolf), chimpanzee (humanized monkey) and goat and pig. The white race was then engineered from the Dravidian Indians as well as Draco DNA. They were made as albinos so to be devoid of pineal activity and soul connection to higher dimensions. They are the children of the Dracos.

Yosemite Sam
8 years ago

Dr. Erika Hagelberg must allow an Onge man to visit her every night for 3 nights. Then (and only then) will she be given a permit.

8 years ago

why don't they send them to a proper country to be re educated

don fairfield
9 years ago

Man is the Indian government vile shits. They let rapists run wild in their streets, let are very efficient at making sure a female scientist can't work. Bet they are exterminating the native pygmies ASAP so as to make room for themselves. Disgusting scum, they surely learned well from the Brits.

An interesting topic, although this ended up more a "how obstructionist & petty can the indian gov/beuroctracy be"

Toy Pupanbai
9 years ago

Bad luck they were part of the British Empire?
Much closer to Siam: would they have faired any better?
The road is a disaster!

9 years ago

so i read most of the comments before watching the documentary and I feel like I will be more offended than educated after watching it. urgh

9 years ago

I just wanted to return to this and point out something else squicky that comes up a couple of times in this film;

The wording used at several points is that "they [the Andaman people] can teach us about OUR own origins".

The implication, intentional or not, is that the Andaman people are not part of modern humanity. They are like us, but not of us.

Who is "us"? Presumed white western veiwers.

This is racism.

9 years ago

The documentary is interesting, let alone the sensationalist narrator who seems to want to show the natives as bloodthirsty savages. The overly dramatic music also tries to sell this documentary as a sensational cannibalistic and violent savages action film.

How dare they resist civilization? Their actions of resistance are highly dramatized. We hear about the death of an innocent Indian bus driver, a "deadly and joint" attack on the colonial prison, but all the while Jarawas and Onges are dying by the thousands.

The narrator also seems to find the behavior of the Sentinelese outrageous and unacceptable: we brought them gifts, how dare they refuse contact? Well I've got news for you: refusing contact is the reason why they've survived for thousands of years, so if you really care about their well-being, I would suggest encouraging them to keep doing that for the next millenia. The Sentinelese are a unique example of survival on earth, possibly the last uncontacted tribe. Their Great Andamanese fellows had no choice but to submit, and the last member of their tribe died recently.

The arrogance of the so-called "civilized world" is on full display when Dr. Hagelberg reaches Port Blair. There she meets fellow geneticians who are trying to collect blood cells and DNA sequences from the tribes, but it seems the only goal is to find out whether they could be useful in treating our Western diseases. After nearly killing them all, we might find some "use" for them afterall. Perhaps they might save us? I'm afraid nothing is done for the well-being of the original inhabitants of these islands in and for themselves, but rather how we could find some use for them or as a mere scientific curiosity to study in a laboratory. At the end of this passage, one of the doctors even says that their DNA will be saved for future generations, even if they all disappear - their preservation sounds secondary.

Despite this appalling commentary, this a realistic (read: sad) and fascinating account into a diverse and threatened culture.

9 years ago

Sad though it seems, it kinda looks like the bible is gonna have to have a makeover!

Rasta Rico Washington
9 years ago

Why not leave them alone and let them continue to live in the purist form of mankind!

dave stewart
9 years ago

Did no one find it a bit disturbing that biochemist, Dr. Erika Hagelberg was not allowed near the natives,i think something bad not just progress is happening to these people like being slowly wiped out,the indian scientist was probably in on it, could it be the ong have not stayed in the houses that were probably forced on them because its a protest against them being enslaved on a plantation and not them being quaint.
The indian guy got the least amount of film needed and no interviews about the tribes past history plus they said at the end there are only about 400 islanders left is that from all the tribes as Dr. Erika mentioned about 100 ong were left we saw all the settlers on the ferry thats just one journey we heard there was trouble between settlers and natives that policeman just happened to tell Dr. Erika she was not allowed to go further and our indian friend was only to eager it seemed to agree it was hopeless for her to go back and get permission to go on it stank off a set up the forlong looks off the natives in the boat that chanced across Dr. Erika they didnt seem so sick to me that they were on way to doctors is it something sinister or i have smoked to much grass tonight?

9 years ago

If we do anything to have relationships with them please make sure we don't indoctrinate them with any religion. Are you listening, Christians, Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Mormons, Jehovahs, plus all 30,000 plus denominations of Christianity????

Jack Wagon
9 years ago

Why don't we just take control of them and make them into US Citizens?

whoopi goldberg
9 years ago

it seems more like were almost quarantining them in isolation when we should probably rather be encouraging some form of assimilation

9 years ago

I am often confused with this first out of Afrika thing. They say India has the oldest civilization which never made sense to me if Afrika is where it all started.

9 years ago

Too bad, they could not be left alone, to live their lives,
as they had been able to do so for centuries.

9 years ago

Tribes are always extremely interesting. The only way to extend their life would have been to give them more land, a lot more land and keep it inaccessible. Plain and simple.

9 years ago

I would like to know why their population is in decline? Oh well.

9 years ago

I found this so depressing.

9 years ago

Excellent documentary, heard of them always thought they were escaped slaves but no, it seems its all so fascinating.

Rachel Smith
9 years ago

so very interesting,I feel so badly that societys come along when a place is populated and do not see it as belonging to those native populations and believe they have the right to modernize and "civalize" it

9 years ago

Good video. I would like to see the results of those DNA samples and what they would imply.