Homo erectus

14 Apr, 2022 570 Biology

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss one of our ancestors, Homo erectus, who thrived on Earth for around two million years whereas we, Homo sapiens, emerged only in the last three hundred thousand years. Homo erectus, or Upright Man, spread from Africa to Asia and it was on the Island of Java that fossilised remains were found in 1891 in an expedition led by Dutch scientist Eugene Dubois. Homo erectus people adapted to different habitats, ate varied food, lived in groups, had stamina to outrun their prey; and discoveries have prompted many theories on the relationship between their diet and the size of their brains, on their ability as seafarers, on their creativity and on their ability to speak and otherwise communicate.

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  • Peter Kjaergaard No other episodes
    Director of the Natural History Museum of Denmark and Professor of Evolutionary History at the University of Copenhagen
  • Jose Joordens No other episodes
    Senior Researcher in Human Evolution at Naturalis Biodiversity Centre and Professor of Human Evolution at Maastricht University
  • Mark Maslin 2 episodes
    Professor of Earth System Science at University College London

Reading list

  • Human Evolution: Theory and Progress
    Peter C. Kjaergaard, Mark Maslin and Djuke Veldhuis
  • The Cradle of Humanity: How the changing landscape of Africa made us so smart
    Mark Maslin (Oxford University Press, 2017) Google Books →
  • A synthesis of the theories and concepts of early human evolution
    Mark A. Maslin, Susanne Shultz and Martin H. Trauth (Royal Society Publishing, Jan 2015)

Related episodes

Programme ID: m00168lg

Episode page: bbc.co.uk/programmes/m00168lg

Auto-category: 573.2 (Physical anthropology)

Hello (First sentence from this episode) Hello. When we homo sapiens emerged around 300,000 years ago, we followed an ancestor who had thrived on earth for up to two million years.