Thousands of years ago one small group of our species, Homo sapiens, crossed out of Africa and into the unknown. Their descendants faced baking deserts, sweat-soaked jungles and frozen wildernesses and risked everything on the vast empty ocean.
Within 60,000 years they colonised the whole world... How did they do it? Why do we, their descendants, all look so different? And what did we have that meant we were the only human species to survive?
Using the evidence from genetics, fossils, archaeology and climatology, Prof Alice Roberts uncovers five epic routes our ancestors took across the globe. Overcoming hostile terrain, extreme weather and other species of human, she finds out how the pieces of human evolution jigsaw puzzle fit together. And, thanks to precious fragments of bone, stone and new DNA evidence, Alice discovers how this journey changed these African ancestors into the people of today.
In the first episode of this channel premiere series, 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.
Then it’s off to Asia, Europe, Australia and The Americas to complete the puzzle and uncover how indigenous tribes and civilisations came into being and evolved through the millennia.
The series reveals how our family tree grew and spread out across the world, producing all the variety we see in the human species today - but despite all that diversity, Alice also reveals how astonishingly closely related we all are.