BBC Life On Earth Disc 4: The Compulsive Communicators (1979)

Grasping hands enabled humans to use weapons. So they became hunters. But to kill the powerful plains-living animals, they needed to work in teams. That encouraged the development of language with which to share plans and issue instructions. Eventually, writing enabled them to share their experiences with others remote in both space and time. So human beings set off down the road towards the domination of the world.
Peter's DVD rating: 2.5 stars
David Attenborough traces the development of Homo sapiens in this last program of the "natural history" series. It is a disappointing climax that dwells mostly on drawn-out musings on the ability of humans to communicate. He gives only a cursory treatment of human evolution, and describes only Homo erectus among the early hominid, not even mentioning Australopithecus, H. erectus, or H. neanderthalensis. Even the encounter with the isolated Biame people turn out to be little more than "me Tarzan" gesturing, and we learn that humans from different cultures can, indeed, communicate.
2:10 Vervet Monkey ventures out from the forest 6:50 Chimpanzee can use hands to hold weapons 11:00 Homo erectus used simple stone tools and communicated
16:30 Humans have many facial muscles for communication 17:40 Biame tribesmen can communicate with Westerners with gestures (New Guinea) 22:45Central France: Homo sapiens made flint tools, used fire, and had large cranium
26:30Cave paintings: American Bison , Aurochs , Mammoth 30:50northern Australia cave painting: Wandjina (creator spirit) and symbolic stories 35:45 Agriculture allowed people to settle into villages
38:00Uruk: Writing can pass on information      
2:10 Vervet Monkey
6:50 Chimpanzee
11:00 Homo erectus
16:30 Humans have many facial muscles
17:40 Biame
22:45 Homo sapiens
26:30 American Bison
26:30 Aurochs
26:30 Mammoth
30:50 Wandjina
30:50 symbolic stories
35:45 Agriculture
38:00 Writing
Index Jan 18, 2006 copyleft Peter Chen