In Search Of Human Origins - The Missing Links
The Evolution of Man
In the video series In Search Of Human Origins, Don Johanson the anthropologist who discovered the oldest human fossil "Lucy" leads us from Lucy's origins as one of our earliest ancestors through the stages of evolution to the present time.
Johanson considered Lucy to be "the missing link between ape and
human". He discovered her in the Great Rift Valley of Africa and explains that the reason anthropologists search for clues to our origins here is because
the ancient layers of the earth have been exposed here. This enables anthropologists to find fossils millions of years old that have been exposed
Three million years ago the Great Rift was nothing like it is today; it was green, moist and densely forested with rivers and lakes which attracted various types of animals. Here Australopithecus lived in an environment very well suited to the development of new species. The discovery of Lucy led anthropologists to discover new information about the species of Australopithecus. Lucy was tiny standing only 3 ½ feet tall. We learned that Lucy had a brain roughly 1/3 the size of ours. Because Lucy and those of her species had the unique ability to lock their knees, they were able to walk upright and on only two limbs, thus allowing them to travel great distances, manipulate objects and carry food with their hands. Due to their brain being roughly the size of a chimpanzee Lucy and her people had a severe lack of fine motor skills which limited their ability to interact fully with the environment around them. When Lucy was discovered it was learned that she had overly large molars that were chipped and pitted from crushing nuts leading anthropologists to believe that she and her species were still strictly vegetarians at this time.
Approximately two million years ago evidence of a more advanced species Homo habilis emerged. This species appears to have had a bigger brain and thus the ability to make more efficient use of resources in the environment. It was thought that this species had undergone a major behavioral change enabling it to develop stone tools. Although Homo habilis was small at roughly 90 pounds, the development of tools enabled him to...