Where did we come from? What makes us human? NOVA presents a comprehensive three-part, three-hour special investigating explosive new discoveries that are transforming the picture of how we became human. Nova: "Becoming Human" airs Wednesday, August 31at 8:00 p.m. on KUED Channel 7.
"Becoming Human" was shot "in the trenches," where discoveries were unearthed throughout Africa and Europe. Dry bones spring back to life with stunning computer-generated animation and prosthetics. Fossils not only offer clues to what early hominids looked like, but, with the aid of ingenious new lab techniques, how they lived and how we became the modern humans of today.
The film explores the 3.3 million years old fossil of "Selam," also known as "Lucy's Child," nearly a complete child fossil that helps shed light on our ancestors' early development and how we began to depart from the development of chimps. NOVA's cameras are there to capture the unveiling of the face, spine and shoulder blades of the oldest known child fossil.
NOVA investigates the first skeleton that really looks like us, "Turkana Boy," an astonishingly complete specimen of Homo erectus found by the famous Leakey team in Kenya. These ancestors are thought to have developed key innovations such as hunting, use of fire and extensive social bonds. Long-distance running and the ability to jog were crucial to the survival of these early hominids on grasslands filled with vicious predators.
What led to the birth of fully modern humans and our unique capacities for culture and creativity? How and why did our species leave Africa and take over the world? New discoveries are showing and suggesting that our exodus was far earlier than previously thought. A nightmare period of intense cold climate may have played a key role, at one point reducing the entire human population to perhaps only a few thousand or hundred. Our survival was on the line even as we began to leave our African cradle.
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