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nicole473 On November - 10 - 2009


This is a 3-part series airing on PBS, exploring the evolution of humanity.

Having watched part 1 of this series a while back, I wanted to bring it to the attention of anyone who has not yet viewed it, as it is well worth watching, and it’s a must see if you haven’t kept up with this topic since they present new info regarding our origins.

You can now view Part 1 online.

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.

Parts 2 & 3 have not yet aired, and the schedule is posted below; if you happen to miss one or both, they’ll be viewable online once they’ve aired on PBS.

Becoming Human Part 2
Birth of Humanity: New discoveries reveal how early humans hunted and formed families.
Tuesday, November 10 at 8 pm (Check local listings)

Becoming Human Part 3
Last Human Standing: Many human species once shared the globe. Why do we alone remain?
Tuesday, November 17 at 8 pm (Check local listings)


Categories: Health & Science

47 Responses so far.

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  1. javaz says:

    Watched whichever part it was the other night and what a fascinating, informative show.

    I was shocked to learn that human mothers have the highest rate of infanticide.
    And how human mothers don’t spend as much time with their babies as orangutans. (thank goodness for spell check!)

    It was also interesting about human babies being more aware of their mother and looking for signs in mother’s faces and tone of voice as to their caring for them.

    I love PBS!

  2. BigDogMom says:

    Thanks nicole, watched it last night, fascinating program can’t wait for part three. The part on the casting the inside of the skulls, showing that there were signs of the capability of language that early was something I had not heard of before, amazing show.

    Can’t understand the Christian Fundie point of view on evolution, if anything with this program, they have been proved wrong. Sometimes I wonder if this way of thinking is ignorance or just complete denial of scientific fact…but then again, after watching the repugs on Sat., I’ve come to the conclusion it must be stupidity.

    Maybe they should cast the inside of one of these rabid Christian right Repugs and see what they find….they are definately not the missing link.

    • FeloniousMonk says:

      Hey, BDM! Once you start with a mentallity that says that by faith you must accept the Bible as the complete and absolutely accurate word of God, and hence the history of the planet, it’s easy to see how these people go off the deep end and abandon all other clarity of thought. To do otherwise would introduce contradictions in their lives, and contradictions make people who don’t want to think very uncomfortable. We all like to think of them as stupid people, but I know educated ones who are into this mindset. I have no idea how they deal with the incongruities. Even the smart ones are rather moronic at times.

      • BigDogMom says:

        Morning Monk,

        I just don’t get how they can accept the Bible as the “Word of God” verbatim, I believe that these are just stories, along the lines of Greek Mythology, to explain to man, pre science, how we started, what happened between then and when the book was written and how to behave in towards one another.

        If they really believe in this written word, they should note that God has allowed us the ability to think on our own and make choices…just don’t get it.

        I wonder if they, the Christian Fundies, every have doubts, or feel that their individuality has been taken away from them…or have they drunk the Kool Aide for too long.

        • FeloniousMonk says:

          BDM. I can’t explain such faith. I have a belief but there is reason involved in it, not blind acceptance of a “book” which has had many authors, sometimes posing as the same author (read biblical analysis) and has had “chapters” added and removed as those who are in power of the “faith” chose to do so. Apocolyptic traditions alone had multiple choices, and the early founders chose the one they liked the sounds of best. Now I’m not Jefferson, I’ll accept a few miracles, but throw out all that stuff from “St. Paul”. Uggh!

          Oh, and don’t bring up to them about the complete story of Lot, because the second half isn’t big in their context.

          I don’t attend church partly because I don’t like organized religion and partly because I have to control my urge to chuckle at much of what is said from the pulpit. I’d find my way to the pillars and stocks very quickly!

          • BigDogMom says:

            I was very lucky growing up in a very liberal church, United Church of Christ here in the Northeast. I think my Mother was also a big influence on how we viewed religion.

            Coming from a very strict religious background, Southern Babtist, she left her family at 17, unheard of in 1950, and was the first in her family to attend college, she was considered a lost soul, the black sheep of the family. And to boot, she married a northerner, from NYC in fact! Up until the day my father died, they called him by his last name, never his first name…

            But she and the church we attended, taught us to view the Bible as stories, and not to take it literally. Individual thought and debate were encouraged, the Bible was only there to teach us to be good people.

            I don’t know how my Mother did it, we went down south every summer to spend time with her family, we kids went to the revivals and church with my Grandmother, but my Mother always refused to go. The arguements were something, but she stood her ground. Of course after us kids went with my Grandmother, she always said, this was to show us what intollerance looked liked…very strong women, miss her dearly.

            • FeloniousMonk says:

              I grew up in the “great American middle of the road church”, the Methodists. But by 6th grade my church had offended me (unsavory story) and my mother and I left to join the Evangelical United Brethran church. Both were about 3 blocks from our home in opposite directions. Of course, the EUBs had a John Wesley related history, and a couple of years later they merged with the Methodists to create the United Methodists. Now the church I belonged to was a “family” church. One family basically ran it. Cousin upon cousin upon brother and sister. They were a good family but…

              And when my father died, the minister there at the time refused to do a service for him because he wasn’t a member of the church. Hmmmm.

  3. nicole473 says:

    Hey, everyone,

    Just wanted to say that if you haven’t yet watched Part 1, you should try to watch it online prior to viewing Part 2.

    Personally, I am not watching Part 2 tonight as I won’t be home, but I will watch it online as soon as it’s available.
    If anyone watches it tonight, feel free to post your impressions here…would love to hear about it!!

  4. PepeLepew says:

    Ooo! Right after Pens-Bruins tonight. How convenient!

    • KQuark says:

      Cindy Crosby is a wuss.

      I wish Lucic wasn’t hurt because he could teach Cindy a lesson or two.

      • PepeLepew says:

        Malkin is *my* favourite.

        • KQuark says:

          I love Gino.

        • KarateKid says:

          Yvgeny, right?

          • PepeLepew says:


            • KarateKid says:

              How are you, Pepe?

            • FeloniousMonk says:

              Pepe’: OK, but I was dealing with a 50 year old 100 foot tall sycamore and it wasn’t the only tree in the neighborhood contributing to the yard mess. But I do sympathize.

              Isn’t that what they make neighbor kids for?

            • PepeLepew says:

              I got two elms and two maples…
              … a leaf blower isn’t going to help me.

            • FeloniousMonk says:

              Hey Pepe’, tell me about these “leaf” things. What are they? Are they related to that mystical snow stuff I don’t see here either? [chuckle]

              Seriously, when I got the leaf blower/vacuum it made cleaning up the leaves in the yard back home so much easier and less space consuming. Sycamore leaves take up far less room mulched than whole in a bag.

              But the process is still hard on the back!

            • PepeLepew says:

              Bagged another 10 bags of leaves today without screwing up my back.
              Made GringoLingo have a major meltdown last night because I kept calling him Flossie.
              The irony is I don’t really believe they’re one and the same, I just love messing with him.
              There *is* something fishy going on between those two, though.

        • HITO says:

          Are you speaking about Michelle Malkin?

          Must get my vomit scraper ready.

          Ewwwww. Can’t decide whether her idiocy outweighs her ignorance. It’s a fine line.

          • KQuark says:

            She is one of the worst of the worst.

          • PepeLepew says:

            No, a much nicer Malkin…

          • FeloniousMonk says:

            Malkin is the best example of the worst the right has to offer. I don’t have to read her words any more, just seeing that mug makes me want to forget my vows of non-violence.

            • KarateKid says:

              Some people have a lot of self loathing, about their race, their nationality, their color, etc. She’s a classic case.

            • FeloniousMonk says:

              You ever stop at Subic? She would have been a natural in her home country.

              That’s nasty, but I really dislike her with a passion.

          • KarateKid says:

            I think they’re talking hockey, but I agree with your statement about the other, repulsive Malkin. Good evening, btw.

            • HITO says:

              Hey KK. Good to see you.

              Last time I knew hockey names, was around Rod Gilbert’s timeline. And I know that’s a very long time ago.

              Thanks for the advice!

  5. Questinia says:

    I watched an excellent Frontline on rising unemployment on the Upper East Side of Manhattan a couple of weeks ago. It was excellent….and really scary. I saw the Frontline concurrently on-line with the PBS broadcast. I don’t whether that’s true for this series. Thanks for the heads up.

    Didn’t they have more on the topic of human evolution on mainstream channels a number of years ago?

    I wonder what happened? Hmmmm…

  6. KQuark says:

    Thanks for the heads up. My wife and I love these kinds of documentaries. Remember we are all from mother Africa.

    FYI most people do not know native Africans have the most diverse gene pool of any ethnic group based on DNA studies. It makes sense because our species has been in Africa the longest.

    • nicole473 says:

      I find it fascinating, too, KQ! I was thinking about getting some genetic testing done [ https://www.23andme.com/ ] mostly because of that interest in our origins.

    • Questinia says:

      Most people in this country don’t know much more than what’s on a Denny’s menu.

      • KQuark says:

        😆 High Q. Well down in GA most folks can translate what smothered, covered, diced, chunked, topped and scattered means but don’t even know the preamble to the Constitution.

        • Questinia says:

          Someone should do a film based on the American people’s recounting of their own history.

          And the people chosen to be interviewed should be from Denny’s. Although it’s not mandatory.

          And down South, I assume that would be a Shoney’s, right?

          • KQuark says:

            Actually Waffle House which is quite famous and yes they do have great waffles and the hash browns are great as well and can be covered with all kinds of stuff like cheese (covered), ham (chunked), onions (smothered), tomatoes (diced), peppers (peppered), mushrooms (capped) and even chili (topped) or “all the way”. I guess living 18 years down south has countryfried my brain.

        • FeloniousMonk says:

          Most people throughout the country couldn’t give you the first seven words of it. And that especially includes those gawdawful teabaggers. Now most Trekkies could give you those words, but not the teabaggers!

          • nicole473 says:

            hmmm…..that’s because teabaggers are fukking stupid. I know you know this, but I said it anyway just because I could, and because it felt good. 😉

            • FeloniousMonk says:

              Most of them do look like they crawled from the extreme shallows of the gene pool.

              And yes, I understand that sensation! And you can spell it correctly, remember, and the penalty is no different. {smiles benignly}

            • nicole473 says:

              I like spelling it like that. 😆

            • HITO says:

              Arrogant and stupid, which is a disgusting mix.

            • FeloniousMonk says:

              And I doubt if their hygiene is all that good either! They do look stinky.

              incoming. I love lobing those!

  7. KevenSeven says:

    Thanks for this. I too can endorse this series.

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