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The Making of Mankind

Palaeoanthropologist Richard Leakey traces the origin of the species in this yet to be equaled BBC production. From the fossil beds in East Africa, where Leakey himself made breakthrough discoveries, to tool makers who walked upright, the aggression of the killer apes and the sensitivity of the caveman placing flowers beside a grave come together.
  • Title ID 75-MM
  • Science, Evolution, Social Studies, Anthropology
  • 7 Programs
  • 9 Supplemental Files
  • 10th Grade through Post Secondary
  • Published by The BBC
Included Programs
Supplemental Files

Included Programs

In the BeginningRunning time is 50 minutes

In Episode 1, we search for human's most ancient ancestors begins with the emergence of amphibians 400 million years ago followed by mammals and primates; and then thanks to scientists in paleontology and paleobotany hunted for the earliest hominids, including Ramapithecus and Homo Erectus, in Africa, in the African Rift Valley around Lake Turkana where they found evidence of Charles Darwin's theory of evolution and natural selection among the plants, bones and stone tools of early hominids.

One Small StepRunning time is 50 minutes

In Episode 2, paleontologists show that bipedalism, walking upright, stone tool making and meat eating were important to the success of human ancestors, like Australopithecus afarensis, whose most famous fossil skeleton Lucy was found at Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania, Africa, as well as Homo habilis, and Homo erectus, while others like Australopithecus robustus, went extinct.

A Human Way of Life Running time is 49 minutes

In Episode 3 paleontologists using techniques of paleo-archaeology show how human ancestors, known as proto-humans, were hunter gatherers, much like the modern day Kung of the Kalahari Desert who hunt and gather fruits and nuts like the Mongongo Nut and the Kamako Berry, and survived through stone tool making, hunting and gathering.

Beyond AfricaRunning time is 50 minutes

In Episode 4, paleontologists and archaeologists examine the migration of the homo sapiens' ancestors, Homo Erectus to Terra Amata at Nice, France, and Peking Man in Choukoutien, China, where excavations uncover evidence of fire making, tool making and the possibility of how human speech began first as sign language and then spoken words.

A New EraRunning time is 50 minutes

In Episode 5 paleoanthropologists trace the descendants of Homo erectus, known as Archaic Homo Sapiens, throughout Europe in places like Germany, Petralona, Greece, La Chappelle aux Saints, France and Tabun Cave in Israel, as Neanderthals, Cro-magnons, and finally Homo sapiens sapiens created bone and antler tools and prehistoric art, such as the famous cave paintings of Lascaux France.

Settling DownRunning time is 50 minutes

In Episode 6 archaeologists investigate the transition of homo sapiens sapiens from hunter gatherers to farmers beginning with excavations of Paleolithic caves and prehistoric, Ice Age art, including LasCaux and Mas d'Azil caves in France, and the Niaux and Le Tuc d'Audobert caves in the Pyrenees, and settlements in the Fertile Crescent of the Middle East's, Jordan Valley located in Syria, Iraq and Iran and Israel's ancient Natufians as well as the towns of Jericho and Hayonim, where agriculture began with the cultivation of wild cereal grains and the domestication of animals such as the horse.

Survival of the SpeciesRunning time is 50 minutes

Episode 7 investigates the survivability of modern humans by first looking at the philosophy of the killer ape as proposed by anthropologist Raymond Dart; and next discussing the difference between hunter-gatherer societies, known for cooperation and sharing, and settled societies, which demonstrate more aggressive tendencies such as war; and finally showing what is happening to the Kung, the Kalahari Bushmen, as they navigate their way into modern 20th century society; while at the same time positing that it is hierarchies created by villages that leads to war, putting 20th century humans in danger through nuclear war unless we can rekindle the adaptability and flexibility of early hominids to find a way out of extinction

Supplemental Files

Educator Guide The Making of Mankind
MARC Records for MM
MARC records for the series The Making of Mankind
Transcription for In the Beginning
Transcription for One Small Step
Transcription for A Human Way of Life
Transcription for Beyond Africa
Transcription for A New Era
Transcription for Settling Down
Transcription for Survival of the Species


“Journey with Richard Leakey as he traces the origin of the species in this series lauded for its aims and scope and sheer expertise."
London Financial Times