human evolution

The Human Spark | What Teeth Can Tell

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By studying the teeth and skull of the remains of a Neanderthal child, archaeologists have learned that Neanderthal children matured at a much faster rate than today’s children. This video segment from The Human Spark compares the length of the Neanderthal childhood with childhood today and discovers another component of the "human spark" that makes us unique .

Becoming Human | E. O. Wilson: Of Ants and Men

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We are part of the natural world. Our minds and emotions evolved in nature. To understand them we have to understand that evolution. We know a lot about the origin of the body. In other words, how the human form came about and the rate at which the forebrain grew and the head shaped. But the one thing that_s been lacking in the explanation of the origin of humanity and, therefore, lacking in terms of the meaning of humanity is the origin of our social behavior.

Secrets of the Sky Tombs | Adapting to Survive at High Altitude

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Examine DNA evidence that links the Himalayan population to ancestors from faraway lands and explains how today’s inhabitants survive at altitude, in this media gallery from NOVA: Secrets of the Sky Tombs. By studying small variations in DNA sequences and comparing them across populations, geneticists determined that early Himalayan settlers came from East Asia. Sequencing also revealed that the Himalayan people survive at high altitude thanks to a second DNA variant inherited from a now-extinct human species. This resource is part of the NOVA Collection.

Double Immunity

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Learn how Dr. Stephen O'Brien's discovery that people from some European populations carry a genetic mutation that prevents HIV from entering their white blood cells could one day help scientists treat or prevent HIV infection, in this video segment from Evolution: Evolutionary Arms Race. Dating back 700 years, O'Brien theorizes that this mutation was a selective advantage during the bubonic plague, and could be again today, with the onslaught of HIV.

The Power of Sadness in 'Inside Out' | BrainCraft

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In this episode, we explore some science behind the message of the film, Inside Out.

Evolutionary Roots of Language

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In this video excerpt from NOVA scienceNOW, learn about an area of the brain that is involved with both language processing and the creation of stone tools. Correspondent and New York Times technology columnist David Pogue explores how tool-making (an ancient human skill that requires complex, sequential thought) may have evolved together with language. He speaks with scientist Cynthia Thompson who studies the parts of the brain that are active when computing sentences. Pogue also meets with scientists Dietrich Stout and Thierry Chaminade who research whether Broca's area, which is associated with sentence processing, is active when the brain is engaged in stone tool-making. Their findings are consistent with the idea that language and tool-making coevolved, known as the "tool-to-language hypothesis."

This video is available in both English and Spanish audio, along with corresponding closed captions.

The Human Spark | A Day in the Life of a Neanderthal

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What was it about our Neanderthal cousins that prevented them from evolving? In this video segment from The Human Spark, host Alan Alda searches for the answer to that question at the excavation site of Roc de Marsal, a collapsed rock shelter in Southwestern France and former home to the Neanderthals. It is there where Alda discovers how the Neanderthals' inability to be innovative contributed to their extinction. This resource is part of The Human Spark collection.

Gross Science | What Can You Learn from Ancient Poop?

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Learn how archaeologists use poop to learn about ancient civilizations, in this episode of Gross Science from NOVA. Poop fossils are called coprolites; they are very rare because feces are difficult to preserve. When poop is fossilized, whatever else was in the poop is mineralized as well. The composition of coprolites can provide valuable information about ancient people, including what they ate, where they lived, or even how they died. This resource is part of the NOVA: Gross Science Collection.

Finding Lucy

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Don Johanson describes finding the knee joint in Hadar, Ethiopia, that first indicated a bipedal hominid had lived 3 million years ago. His subsequent expedition led to the discovery of Lucy, a 40 percent complete skeleton of a new species of hominid, now known as Australopithecus afarensis. The final piece of the puzzle was a skull from the same site, which clearly demonstrated that Lucy's kind were small-brained, although they walked upright. From NOVA: In Search of Human Origins.

What is "Race"?

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Learn about the relatively recent invention of “race” and judge how well the concept applies to people today in this video from Finding Your Roots. Geneticist David Altshuler describes how people in the 19th Century developed a concept of race that had more to do with the social interactions and hierarchies of that time period than with biological differences. But even while the concept of race was forming, human relationships showed that race was less rigid than it was believed to be. In the video, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick learns about the relationship between two of his ancestors, a relationship that demonstrates that people made connections that defied stereotypes. Genetic analysis reveals that people are far more similar than they are different.

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