This episode continues the search for answers. Why did humans acquire the use of language? Other species can communicate with one another--but no other species has language, with its shades of meaning and its ability to put over large amounts of information and ideas very rapidly to many other individuals. What gave the early human-like species, living and surviving on the open African savannah, the need to evolve complex speech? Survival means success means expansion. Early humans spread beyond Africa in successive waves from about 1 million years ago. Not all of them survived--the Neaderthals populated Europe from about 150,000 years ago, descendents of a much earlier move out of Africa; but by 60,000 years ago, they had become extinct. What happened to them? The modern humans who replaced the Neandertals had language, a complicated social life, sophisticated tools and weapons--and they made things with no obvious practical use. Why did they spend time on sculpture, cave paintings and decorative tools, rather than the apparently more urgent demands of survival? Extinction is a normal, everyday part of evolution. There have been many previous human-like species--and all but one have vanished. In spite of modern humans' apparent achievement and domination of the environment, what does the future hold for us?moreless
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