Ape-Man - Adventures in Human Evolution

Alternative title
Apeman - Adventures in Human Evolution
Synopsis
A 6-part documentary series exploring the origins of the human species, combining the archaeological story with insights into what our predecessors were like.
The series covers fundamental questions about human evolution including who were our ancestors, when did they first walk the earth, and why did man survive when other species became extinct? These questions have inspired scientists throughout the ages to piece together the fragmentary clues the early humans left behind. This story of their detective work in search of evidence about our evolution covers the breakthroughs and setbacks in the epic journey towards the truth about our shared past. It shows that our early ancestors were, in many ways, people like us. At the heart of this series are dramatic recreations which bring into focus the lives of the early humans.
Language
English
Country
Great Britain
Year of release
2003
Year of production
2000
Notes
First broadcast weekly on BBC 2 beginning 22/2/00
Subjects
Anthropology; Archaeology; Biology
Keywords
archaeological investigation; genetics; human evolution; prehistoric cultures

Distribution Formats

Type
VHS
Format
PAL
Price
£125.00 each £350.00 series
Availability
Sale
Duration/Size
6 x 50 minutes
Year
2003

Sections

Title
Human
Synopsis
This first programme in the series offers a startling interpretation of cave paintings in France and gets inside the mind of Stone Age man with the help of research into hallucination and studies of the trance-dances of Namibian bushmen. Paintings from the Ice Age, which have survived for more than thirty thousand years, depict animal which have been extinct for millennia. These paintings give an insight into the way that early humans thought, and this episode of the documentary series uses help from modern day hunter-gatherers from Namibia, comparisons with South African cave art, neurologists and psychologists studying hallucination to understand the paintings and the people who made them.
Duration
50 mins

Title
First born
Synopsis
This part investigates the hypothesis that it was a switch from a vegetarian diet to meat-eating 2.5 million years ago that fuelled the success of the apeman which evolved into humans. Including visits to Taunga on the edge of the Kalahari Desert, Tanzania’s Ngorongoro crater, and a site near Johannesburg where an almost complete australopithecine skeleton has been found. Includes an interview with Leslie Aiello, Professor of Anthropology at University College London, who discusses a new theory which suggests that a switch to meat eating was the key development that led to ape-men developing bigger brains and more human-like bodies.
Duration
50 mins

Title
Body
Synopsis
This third programme in the series reveals how scientists finally found the missing link - the half-man, half-ape postulated by Darwin - when they uncovered the skeleton of a young male who died 1.5 million years ago on Lake Nariokotome in Kenya. Studies of these remains now suggest that the body had developed far in advance of the brain, and that Homo erectus was, in fact, a wild animal in a human-like body. Includes a reconstruction of the dying moments of the young boy. Futher investigations have suggested that, although the boy looked human, he had no capacity for language. This suggests that the human body developed long before the sophisticated brain.
Duration
50 mins

Title
Love
Synopsis
From skeletal remains in Italy and England, this programme reconstructs the story of the first hominids to experience humanlike emotions, placing them in Europe about half a million years ago. Homo heidelbergensis originated in Africa and may have survived in the cold European climate because they were sufficiently intelligent to hunt and sufficiently socially developed to form family units. Includes contributions from Professor Leslie Aiello, Dr Mark Roberts, Dr Eligio Vacca, Professor Hartmut Thieme and Dr Steven Mithen.
Duration
50 mins

Title
Exodus
Synopsis
This programme investigates the point at which modern man’s own species, Homo sapiens, first walked the earth. Work on genetics and extensive evidence found at dramatic sites in South Africa have added credence to the view that modern humans originally appeared in Africa before gradually colonising other continents. Looks at evidence that has been found at the Blombos and Klasies River sites in Africa. This evidence has allowed experts to construct a very detailed picture of what life was like a hundred thousands years ago. For example it is now known that the earliest humans caught fish by spearing them with bone tipped harpoons, they made clothes and bags by sewing animal hides and important occasions (such as the onset of puberty) were marked by painting red ochre on their faces and bodies. The evidence also suggests that modern man is much older than experts believed - appearing about a hundred and fifty thousand years ago rather than fifty thousand years ago as previously thought.
Duration
50 mins

Title
Contact
Synopsis
This last programme in the series explores the moment of crisis when the Neanderthals encountered members of the sophisticated modern human species for the first time. Recent research at sites in south-west France and Portugal suggests that the two species were more similar than was previously thought, and that they may have produced hybrid descendants. With contributions from Professor Svante Paabo and Professor Jan Simek.
Duration
50 mins

Production Company

Name

BBC Television

Distributor

Name

BBC Active Video for Learning - now BBC Learning

Contact
Carolina Fernandez Jeremy Wilcox (CF - for educational enquiries JW - channel sales manager)
Email
BBCStudiosLearning@bbc.com
Web
https://www.bbcstudioslearning.com/ External site opens in new window
Phone
+44 (0) 20 8433 1009
Address
BBC Studios Limited
Television Centre
101 Wood Lane
London
W12 7FA
UK
Notes
The BBC Active company has now been absorbed within BBC Learning, a division of BBC Studios. It was originally a joint venture between BBC Worldwide and Pearson Education. Formerly known as ‘BBC Worldwide Learning Studies’ and before that as ‘Videos for Education & Training’

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