The Incredible Human Journey
There are seven billion humans on Earth, spread across the whole planet. Scientific evidence suggests that most of us can trace our origins to one tiny group of people who left Africa around 70,000 years ago. In this five-part series, Dr Alice Roberts follows the archaeological and genetic footprints of our ancient ancestors to find out how their journeys transformed our species into the humans we are today, and how Homo Sapiens came to dominate the planet.
Part 1: Out of Africa
Alice travels to Africa in search of the birthplace of the first people. They were so few in number and so vulnerable that today they would probably be considered an endangered species. So what allowed them to survive at all? The Bushmen of the Kalahari have some answers – the unique design of the human body made them efficient hunters and the ancient click language of the Bushmen points to an early ability to organise and plan.
Part 2: Asia
Dr Alice Roberts visits Asia on her quest to discover how a small band of humans came to eventually populate the globe. In Siberia, one of the most inhospitable places on Earth, she meets the Evenki nomads, a remote tribe that has much to teach the world about surviving in extreme climates. Alice also considers the claim that the Chinese do not share the same African ancestry as other peoples
Part 3: Europe
When our species first arrived in Europe, the peak of the Ice Age was approaching and the continent was already crawling with a rival: stronger, at home in the cold and even (contrary to the popular image) brainier than us. So how did the European pioneers survive first the Neanderthals and then the deep freeze as they pushed across the continent?
Part 4: Australia
Alice looks at our ancestors’ seemingly impossible journey to Australia. Miraculously preserved footprints and very old human fossils buried in the outback suggest a mystery: that humans reached Australia almost before anywhere else. How could they have travelled so far from Africa, crossing the open sea on the way, and do it thousands of years before they made it to Europe?
Part 5: The Americas
Alice tries to find out how Stone Age people reached North and South America for the first time. She finds out about an ancient corridor through the Canadian ice sheet that might have allowed the first humans through. Old finds in Chile though point to a whole different route for the first humans making it there.