human evolution

NOVA: Becoming Human | Fossil Evidence of Bipedalism

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In this video segment adapted from NOVA, see how paleoanthropologists—including Don Johanson, with his famous discovery of the Australopithecus afarensis "Lucy"—have used the fossil record to identify a large number of fairly similar bipedal species that encompass ancestors of humans and related species. These species, which walked upright like humans, but resembled apes in small brain size and in facial structure, flourished as a group for millions of years. Scientists still debate which of these species was our direct ancestor. The video features a comparison of Lucy's fossilized pelvis bone with that of an ape, and shows how strikingly similar Lucy's is to a human one.

Geneticist Pardis Sabeti

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This video profile adapted from NOVA scienceNOW profiles the life and work of Harvard geneticist and biological anthropologist Pardis Sabeti. Although Sabeti spends many of her evenings on stage, fronting her band Thousand Days, her true passion is unraveling scientific puzzles. In 2006, Sabeti developed a method for analyzing the human genome in search of genes that may have arisen through natural selection. Her method is now widely used among geneticists and evolutionary biologists in an effort to better understand how genetic traits have evolved.

Is This The Most Beautiful Face in the World? | BrainCraft

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Can we define beauty? According to science, there is a formula for beauty, and it looks fairly average.

The Human Spark | The Language Spark

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In this video from The Human Spark Alan Alda meets with Harvard University's Elizabeth Spelke, who believes the symbolic function of language is what ignites the human spark. Alda then visits Helen Neville at the University of Oregon and participates in her research into the role of grammar in differentiating humans from other animals. Both Helen Neville and John Shea, from Stony Brook University, see a connection between language and the making and using of tools.

Sonic the Hedgehog Is Why You Have Thumbs! | It's Okay to Be Smart

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The human hand, with its multi-talented thumb, might be man's greatest tool. But did you know we can trace that thumb, and the hand and arm it's connected to, all the way back to a 375 million-year-old fish named Tiktaalik? This week I sit down with paleontologist and geneticist Dr. Neil Shubin to learn what a fish, and a little blue hedgehog, can teach us about the evolution of thumbs

Bipedalism: The Evolution of Back-Aches | Your Inner Fish

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The process of human bipedal evolution holds many mysteries of modern human posture. The shape of our backs keeps us balanced when we walk on two legs, but the benefit of bipedalism comes at a cost. Anatomist Bruce Latimer shows how our transition to being exclusively bipedal has led to many common back ailments.

Dimetrodon: Our Most Unlikely Ancestor | Eons

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With its lizard-like appearance and that distinctive sail on it back, Dimetrodon is practically the mascot of the Palaeozoic Era, a time before flowers, birds, mammals, and even crocodiles. But if you take a close look at this sail-backed animal, you might see a little bit of yourself.

Finding the Origins of Color Vision | Your Inner Fish

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Take a look inside the origins of color vision, and the adaptive evolution of sight all throughout the primate kingdom. The ability to see the world in color is one most people take for granted, but our earliest primate ancestors lacked this ability. When and how did we gain the ability to see the world the way we do? Neil Shubin pays a visit to vision expert Jay Neitz to learn where our color vision comes from.

How Many Choices Are Too Many? | BrainCraft

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Is more choice really better than less? In this episode, we explore the paradox of choice.

The Human Spark | Humans vs. Chimps

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This video segment from The Human Spark looks at four different experiments that make direct comparisons between the skills of young children and apes. The experiments cover a wide range of tasks which asses the ability to deal with the physical world of objects as well as social skills. The similarities between chimp and human behavior suggest that these skills were most likely a characteristic of our common ancestor.

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