Three million years ago in Africa, early hominids walked around upright. What we know about them is minimal and teams of archaeologists spend their lives searching for clues that might help us to better understand their ways of life.
Don Johanson, a well-known archaeologist, and his team spent many years in Africa in the early 70s searching for remains left behind by our early ancestors. In 1974 Don discovered a bipedal skeleton that was about one third the size of modern humans and also had a small brain cavity. The film asks the question “How did these creatures survive on the plains of Africa”.
Australopithecines walked upright, therefor leaving their hands free to carry food over distances. There is also much evidence that supports that they were scavengers.
An archaeologist named Raymond Dart proposed the “Man the Hunter” hypothesis and wanted to find evidence that the “Killer Ape” Hypothesis was wrong. This was a misconception thought for many years. He excavated a cave and found many tools but was not convinced that these tools were used as weapons. The evidence from these tools and bones show that these ancestors were more likely scavengers and they probably lived and worked together in groups. It would have been an easy meal to track a leopard after a kill and to take the remains of that kill from the tree branches where the leopards store their food.
Olduvai Gorge has been a very important and substantial spot for finding artifacts and remains of early hominids. Louis Leaky found the first stone tools here and spent many years searching for “the tool maker”. In 1959 they discovered a skull fossil. This skull had a bony ridge which gave this creature massive chewing power which suggests vegetarian. This find was from an ancestor that had no need or use for stone tools.
One year later the Leakys found a different skull fossil that had a much bigger brain capacity. They named it Homo habilus “The...