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Breaking the Wall Around the Secrets of Our Origins: How Early Hominids and Their Paleoenvironments Can Explain Our Species

This video from the 2009 Falling Walls Conference features Michel Brunet's lecture on how human paleontology holds the key to the origin of human life. Brunet is a professor of human paleontology and leads digs for fossil mammals and primates in Chad, Libya, Egypt, and Cameroon. Here he discusses his expedition in Central Africa, during which he discovered the skull and several jaws of a late Miocene hominid whose remains are believed to predate the earliest previously known hominid, Lucy, by more than three million years. Brunet gave it the nickname Toumaï, meaning “hope of life” in the local Goran language of Chad. What can the remains of a life lived millions of years ago tell us about how we live our lives today, and what does it mean that it originated in Africa? (10 minutes)

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Early Hominids: What We Know
Neanderthals were a sister species to Homo sapiens living in Europe who became extinct 27,000 years ago. Darwin predicted the discovery of a common ancestor between chimpanzees—our closest genetic relative—and humans.