Can I recommend this show? I had hoped to give it a ten out of ten, a definite “yes” “DON’T MISS” but in truth I expected more. Fronted by anatomist and physical anthropologist DrAlice Roberts we were presented with an intriguing subtitle relating to food and how our ancestors‘ struggle for survival had shaped our genetic inheritance. Dr Alice established fairly on in the show that she was a vegetarian by choice and so one wondering at the wisdom of presenting a show on our meat eating hunter gatherer ancestors. That said and allowing for any conclusions to be presented through “vegetarian” eyes (!) there was some intelligent and interesting stuff. Not least the exquisite line drawings ranging
from Proplioithecus (fruit and shoot eaters) to
eating) through Homo Heidelbergensis to Homo Sapiens living 200,00 years ago and from who we believe we are directly descended.
The programme looked at how the search for food drove us
down from the trees and out of the jungle and how this search underpins our success as a species. To illustrate this
Dr Alice took the example of our eyes and how a genetic mutation caused our colour perception to change and incorporate greens and reds into the colour spectrum. This in turn led to the ability to see fruit as red and ripe and good and life-giving, a sensory gift, for with this perception came the ability to choose for the survival of the species, to choose ripe fruit (the best fruit), the most life giving fruit. Evolution at work! And so we came down out of the trees searching for food
onto the wild African savannah. Dental research on ancestral skull has determined that our ancestors adapted to eat nuts and seeds, tubers and then evolved again through necessity to eat meat developing smaller teeth, smaller jaw bones, losing the ape like snout, developing longer legs, smaller waists, using tools to butcher meat but alongside that continuing to vary their diet eating tubers, nuts, seeds when meat was sparse. Fascinating images followed of the Hadza tribe in Africa one of the last hunter gatherer tribes left on the planet. Dr Alice compared their existence to that of our ancestors and determined that their diet had not changed and that meat was prized above all.
The Hadza women told how their husband would bring in the meat and they bring in the tubers and how choosing the right partner was crucial: a husband must be a good hunter, be able to collect honey and not be greedy at home. The women were not interested in looks but wanted a man who “brings home food” and who loves his family. If the men were no good as hunters, they were of no use to the women!
This is fascinating in the context of diet and what we choose to eat today. Dr Alice concluded by saying that 10,000 years ago the onset of agriculture (neolithic) meant a population explosion, that man could choose where he lived, finding food anywhere because we put it there. Dr Alice concluded that this underpins our success as a global species. What do you think?
To watch the programme go here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/p00jjjxm/Origins_of_Us_Guts/
- What is your belief on the origin of man (wiki.answers.com)