Darwin and Evolution

Season 1 Episode 2

The Human Puzzle

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Aired Unknown Mar 19, 2009 on ESPN
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The Human Puzzle
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For 150 million years, dinosaurs were the world's dominant animals. Compared to them, modern humans have existed for the blink of an eye, maybe 100,000 years in roughly our current form. The program captures the huge time-scale of life on earth and the evolutionary processes that have taken place; continental shifts, massive climactic changes, dramatic events (were the dinosaurs wiped out by meteorite collisions?), and then the process by which modern humans slowly emerged, taking them to the point where they believe themselves to be the very pinnacle of development. We appear to be in complete control of our surroundings. But the difference between us and the modern representatives of our ape-like ancestors is tiny. The biochemical make-up of our bodies is almost identical to that of the chimpanzee. So what are the actual differences? What makes us human and them not? The programme identifies key features: an ancestor, shared with today's chimpanzees, who live about 7 million years ago; walking upright, which began about 4.5 million years ago; the use of tools; and, much more recently, the development of the brain associated with language, communication and art. And all these developments took place in one continent: modern humans, without any doubt, can trace their ancestry back to Africa.moreless
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