Being Human: Connecting to Our Ancient Ancestors



Was Lucy Male? Comparing the Gender of Human-Like Fossils

Anthropology Professor Adrienne Zihlman presents the similarities between the skeletons of male and female pygmy chimpanzees as an example of how difficult it can be to determine the sex of the fossilized remains of early human-like species.

Is Mass Extinction of Life on Earth Inevitable?

Is it a natural characteristic of life on Earth to be self-destructive? Tim Flannery, author of Here on Earth, argues against Peter Ward's "Medea Hypothesis," which proposes that multicultural life is inherently suicidal.

Donald Johanson Recalls How 'Lucy' Got Her Name

Professor Donald Johanson, the paleoanthropologist responsible for unearthing the first known remains of Australopithecus afarensis, describes how his discovery ended up with the name "Lucy." Johanson explains that what started out as an off-the-cuff suggestion, ended up securing the fossil a place in popular culture.

The Mystery of the Hobbit

Ian Tattersall, paleoanthropologist and curator at the American Museum of Natural History, describes the discovery of the LB1 bones (nicknamed the "hobbit"), and the mystery surrounding the nearly complete skeleton.

Richard Dawkins: There Never Was a First Homo Sapiens

Evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins explains a thought experiment imagining every generation of a single ancestor back millions of years. He argues that because of the gradual process of evolution, there was no single point when Homo erectus became Homo sapiens.

What Separates Us from Chimps? As It Turns Out, Not Much

Neurologist Robert Sapolsky explores the genetic differences between humans and chimps, and describes the few genes that make our species unique. Our two species share over ninety-eight percent of the same genes, with only one major trait separating us from other primates: an abundance of neurons.

"Take a chimp brain fetally and let it go two or three more rounds of division and you get a human brain instead," says Sapolsky. "And, out come symphonies, ideologies and hopscotch."

About this series

In advance of the upcoming Female in Evolution Symposium, presented by The Leakey Foundation and the California Academy of Sciences, we've created a series that highlights our most popular videos about evolution, from the discovery of Lucy to Dawkins discussing the origin of the first person. 

Please enjoy this new series and sign up now for the Female in Evolution Symposium that takes place on April 28, 2012.

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