In 2001, a discovery was made that turned the scientific community on its head – the oldest human ancestor skull ever found. Found by Meave Leakey and her team of fossil hunters, this 3½ million year old specimen was remarkable in its completeness and distinct from any other specimen previously unearthed. This find has revolutionized our understanding of how humans evolved—the great mystery being how an ape could have possibly evolved into the extraordinary creature we are today.
Ten million years ago, the Earth was dominated by apes, with more than 50 species roaming the planet. Three million years later, most of them had vanished to be replaced by something that is clearly related to them—humans! Scientists have long investigated which characteristic had enabled us to make this huge leap from ape to amazing human being. At first it was thought that it was our large brains that separated us from apes but then along came Lucy: a three million year old specimen whose bipedalism (the ability to walk upright) disproved this theory.
Today, Lucy remains an important figure in our evolution story as she seemed to defy evolutionary laws. Normally when a species undergoes an evolutionary adaptation like bipedalism there is what scientists call an adaptive radiation—many species quickly diversifying from one another as they evolve. But when tracing back our own family tree there was no such radiation; just a straight line leading from the planet of the apes through to Lucy.
This incredible journey can now be seen in full visual glory with National Geographic’s documentary ‘Planet of the Apes: The Evolution Of Man’ which takes us on a vivid journey through time to uncover how humans evolved from apes. With interviews with some of the world’s top palaeontologists and access never-before-seen footage, this documentary offers greater insights into mankind’s amazing evolution story than ever before. So don’t miss out – watch ‘Planet of the Apes: The Evolution Of Man’ today!