General Information
Why did our earliest ancestors leave the trees and start to walk on two legs? What were early people like? Did they have language? Were they predators or prey? ape man tells the remarkable epic of our 5-million-year journey from ape to man.
This extraordinary story has been pieced together from a host of fossil finds, prehistoric cave paintings, discarded stone tools, and traces of ancient genetic material. In this dramatic and highly readable account, Robin McKie, Science editor of The Observer, unravels the saga of how these discoveries have allowed us to build up a picture of our ancestors' lives. It is a gripping scientific detective story that reveals how our world has come to be dominated by a single primate species: Homo sapiens.
The clues to our past include astonishing human-like footprints, preserved in volcanic ash sediments for over 3.5 million years, made by creatures -- half-ape, half-man -- already walking on two legs; a startlingly well-preserved skeleton unearthed at Lake Turkana, Kenya, revealing the grim life-and-death story of an 11-year-old boy who lived on the African savannah 1.5 million years ago; and minute DNA samples which some scientists believe will help them trace back the lineage of Homo sapiens to one African woman who lived 200,000 years ago.
Illustrated with evocative recreations of early man and his landscapes, photographs of the human fossils and the palaeontologists who discovered them, and maps of key fossil sites, this book -- which accompanies the ground-breaking new BBC television series ape-man -- unravels the clues, the setbacks, the human dramas and the scientific disputes to tell the astonishing story of our ancestry.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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 colonise other continents.
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.
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