The Incredible Human Journey: Asia

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The Incredible Human Journey: Asia


[starttext] In the second episode, Dr. Roberts travels to Siberia and visits an isolated community of indigenous people who still practice reindeer hunting.

With reference to them, she asks how ancient Africans could have adapted to the hostile climate of northern Asia, and why Asian people look so different from Africans.

She then explores an alternative to the Out of Africa theory, the multiregional hypothesis that has gained support in some scientific communities in China.

According to this theory, the Chinese are descended from a human species called Homo erectus rather than from the Homo sapiens from which the rest of humanity evolved.

She then visits the Zhoukoudian caves, in which Peking Man, the supposed Homo erectus ancestor of the Chinese, was discovered.

Prof. Roberts notes that some Chinese anthropologists and palaeontologists have shown modern Chinese physical characteristics in the fossil skulls, such as broad cheek bones, cranial skull shape and shovel-shaped incisors that are absent in almost all other humans.

Sge also notes that the stone tools found in China seem more primitive than those elsewhere, and infers that they were made exclusively by Homo erectus.

However, she argues that the skull evidence is only subtle. Prof. Roberts interviews an American palaeontologist, who presents his hypothesis that the ancient Chinese humans used bamboo instead of stone, explaining the absence of sophisticated stone tools, despite the absence of archaeological evidence to support this hypothesis.

Finally, Prof. Roberts interviews Chinese geneticist Jin Li, who ran a study of more than 10,000 individuals scattered throughout China from 160 ethnic groups.

The study initially hypothesised that the modern Chinese population evolved from Homo erectus in China but Incredible Human Journey concluded that the Chinese people did in fact evolve and migrate from Africa like the rest of world's population. [endtext]