“Becoming Human” Parts 2 and 3
“Becoming Human” is a three-part documentary presenting the current scientific research and thinking about human evolution. Part 2 of the documentary (titled Birth of Humanity) is based on discoveries of remains of Homo erectus, a “Turkana Boy” in Kenya. The documentary describes how the early hominids survived challenges that emerged from the environment through innovation, including developing social bonds, the use of fire and hunting large prey. Running is described as one of the key abilities that enabled early hominids to survive. The second part of the documentary (titled Last Human Standing) describes how modern humans (the Homo sapiens) moved from Africa to other parts of the world. The series explains that the Homo sapiens once shared the planets with the Homo erectus, Neanderthals and ‘Hobbits.’ According to the series, Neanderthals moved from Africa to Europe during the Ice Age. The Neanderthals evolved into modern human beings.
The issue raised in the documentary is quite interesting. For instance, it is very interesting to find that the early hominids had unique innovation abilities many millions ago, such as the ability to lit fire. The documentary is also provocative in a way since it shows that human beings have been evolving throughout history and are still evolving today. In addition, it presents mysterious discoveries, such as the three-foot tall ‘Hobbits,’ who lived in Indonesia until 12,000 years ago. The documentary raises several questions about human evolution: In what ways are the human beings still evolving today? Did the modern humans interbreed with the Neanderthals? Why did the Neanderthals become extinct, while the Homo sapiens survived? Did the modern human beings exterminate the Neanderthals? The existing theories about human evolution have indicated that the ancestors of human beings (hominids) emerged from East and southern Africa three to four million years ago (McCannon 50). As they continued evolving, they spread to other parts of the world. The recent research findings, therefore, confirm the theories.
A Thoughtful Response
There are several points to learn from Parts 2 and 3 of the “Becoming Human” documentary. As described in the Nova version of the documentary, Neanderthals are the closest ancestors of the modern human beings. However, there were slight differences between the Neanderthals and Homo sapiens. First, Neanderthals had occasional brow ridge and slightly bigger brains. In addition, the Neanderthals were exclusively carnivores, unlike the Homo sapiens who also fed on vegetations. During periods of drought, the Neanderthals still focused on hunting animals for food, unlike the modern human beings, who switch to other types of food that are edible or migrate to other places in search for food.
An important observation is that from the time of the early hominids, human beings have always been innovative. Just like the modern humans, the early hominids had unique abilities that enabled them to survive. “Becoming Human” demonstrates the essential aspects of human evolution that led the modern human beings to be distinct from the other ape species. The essential aspects include, little body hair, big brains, learning to be omnivorous and high adaptability to food, climate and terrain. There are many recent studies for bipedal primates in different geographies and climates around the world. The studies indicate that different bipedal primates are fit to live in different climates or environments and no one singles species is fit to live in all environments. High adaptability to different climates may have influenced the ability of early hominids and Homo sapiens to successfully move and survive in different parts of the world.
McCannon, John. AP World History, 3rd Ed. New York. Barron’s Educational Series, 2010. Print.
Nova. “Becoming Human.” PBS Online. WGBH. 31 August 2011. Web. 24 June 2014.