Thursday, September 1, 2011

First Steps: Six million years ago, what set our ancestors on the path from ape to human? Airs August 31, 2011 on PBS

I watched this last night. I was impressed by what 21st century science has accomplished. The technology they use to, for example, analyze fossils is amazing, and would have been even more amazing to the 19th century father of modern biology, Charles Darwin.

What I got out of it was there was a lot of branching going on during the development of modern human apes. We are just one human ape species of many, except we have the advantage of being the only human apes who didn't go extinct.

We survived thanks to the development of our larger brains, which was thanks to natural selection and the frequent climate change in Africa during the last few million years. Only the smartest human apes lived long enough to pass on their genes to the next generation.

Another thing that was interesting about this PBS science TV program was it never mentioned the existence of evolution deniers, and it never talked about the existence or non-existence of magic god fairies. It was all science and the TV program assumed there were no retarded Christian assholes watching.

Program Description

Where did we come from? What makes us human? An explosion of recent discoveries sheds light on these questions, and NOVA's comprehensive, three-part special, "Becoming Human," examines what the latest scientific research reveals about our hominid relatives.

Part 1, "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 sharp swings of climate were a key factor.

The other programs in the "Becoming Human" series are Part 2: "Birth of Humanity," which profiles the earliest species of humans, and Part 3: "Last Human Standing," which examines why, of various human species that once shared the planet, only our kind remains.


  1. I watched part of it too, the part about Turkana Boy. Skeptic that I am, I wanted to know how they knew that he didn't have one of those pituitary tumor diseases that makes people grow too tall too fast. Otherwise, fascinating show. It must be hard for deniers to realize how left behind they are when they see these shows. That's probably why they watch 700 Club and shit instead.

  2. Do the cowardly Christians who are terrified of science watch TV programs about science? Probably not. They don't want to make their dead Jeebus cry.


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