Becoming Human Summary & Review

Topics: Human evolution, Australopithecus afarensis, Human Pages: 1 (359 words) Published: January 30, 2012
Becoming Human Part 1: Summary
The video opens by talking about a fossilized skull found in Africa. Known as “Selam”- Ethiopian word for “peace”, an Austalopithecus afarensis that was discovered in the Afar region of Ethiopia. Selam was claimed to be 3.5 million years old.

For a long time, the assumption was that humanity somehow came naturally as a byproduct of the thing that most obviously distinguishes us from chimpanzees, the preference for walking upright on two legs called bipedalism. The earliest humans could walk on two legs in a relatively inefficient manner, but bipedalism only became locked in as a human trait. Daniel E. Lieberman, a Harvard anthropologist, suggests that bipedalism developed as a means of saving energy. But that energy-efficient bipedalism, it turns out, did not automatically mean smarter, small-brained bipedal apes were around for rather a long time without making much mental progress. Africa experienced a period of instability about two million years ago when things went from wet to dry and back again in a relatively short time. The documentary implies that cycles of drought would have somehow made our ancestors more adaptable and triggered the evolution of a more human type. A brief mention is made that other earliest humans lived during the time of these fluctuations, but it is suggested that intense climate change drove them all to extinction.

Becoming Human Part 1: Review
I really question the theory regarding climate change starting human evolution. Partly since the African sand evidence does not seem credible for me. Secondly, sure climate change might have started at the same time as human evolution but that doesn't mean climate change was the trigger in any way. I would certainly have felt rather more reassured if this documentary presented facts rather than speculation. But, it is a fair introduction to early human evolution for those who know that "Selam" is important for understanding our origins but cannot...
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