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Becoming Human – First Steps (NOVA Documentary)

First Steps examines the factors that caused us to split from the other great apes. The program explores the fossil of Selam, also known as Lucy’s Child. Paleoanthropologist Zeray Alemseged spent five years carefully excavating the sandstone embedded fossil. NOVA’s cameras are there to capture the unveiling of the face, spine, and shoulder blades of this 3.3 million year old fossil child. And NOVA takes viewers „inside the skull“ to show how our ancestors‘ brains had begun to change from those of the apes. Why did leaps in human evolution take place? First Steps explores a provocative big idea that swings of climate were a key factor. Nothing is more fascinating to us than, well, us. Where did we come from? What makes us human? NOVA’s groundbreaking investigation explores how new discoveries are transforming views of our earliest ancestors. Featuring interviews with world renowned scientists, footage shot in the trenches as fossils were unearthed, and stunning computer generated animation, Becoming Human brings early hominids to life, examining how they lived and how we became the creative and adaptable modern humans of today. In the first episode, NOVA encounters Selam, the amazingly complete remains of a 3 million year old child, packed with clues to why we split from the apes, came down from the trees, and started walking upright. In gripping forensic detail, the second episode investigates the riddle of Turkana Boy a tantalizing fossil of Homo erectus, the first ancestor to leave Africa and colonize the globe. What led to this first great African exodus? In the final episode, Becoming Human explores the origins of us where modern humans and our capacities for art, invention, and survival came from, and what happened when we encountered the mysterious Neanderthals. Crucial new evidence comes from the recent decoding of the Neanderthal genome. Did modern humans interbreed with Neanderthals? Exterminate them? Becoming Human examines why we survived while our other ancestral cousins including Indonesia’s 3 foot high Hobbit died out and poses the question: are we still evolving today?

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