Segments in this Video

Diversity of Species (02:36)


Host David Pogue notes that 30,000 years ago, there were 4 different types of hominids. Watch a historic representation of the development of humans and Neanderthals.

Differences in the Skulls (03:45)

Daniel Lieberman describes skull differences, comparing human heads to soccer balls and Neanderthal heads to footballs. Pogue is made up to look like a Neanderthal.

Brain Structure (03:20)

Lieberman suspects that seeing a modern-day Neanderthal would garner mild acknowledgement, but not a strong reaction. He believes that the Neanderthal brain had different cognitive abilities than the human brain. Watch this cartoon indicating why humans may have survived due to their small brain size.

Neanderthal Genome (02:02)

Some human DNA reveals mutations characteristic of Neanderthals. Geneticist Ed Green believes that this is evidence of Neanderthal decedents in the modern world.

Not Extinct, In A Way (03:58)

Pogue has his DNA tested to find out if he has Neanderthal ancestry. Everyone in the modern world has Neanderthal ancestry, except those from Africa, whose ancestors did not meet up with Neanderthals.

Origin of Language (04:44)

Tools have been found that indicate that Neanderthals wore jewelry and makeup. David Frayer shows Pogue three different skulls to explain language development.

Tool to Language Hypothesis (03:14)

Dietrich Stout believes that the development of tools laid the foundation for language to be developed. Pogue learns to make ancient tools from Bruce Bradley.

Broca's Area (05:06)

Thierry Chaminade tests subjects to find that the same area of the brain is at work in the formation of complex sentences, as the formation of complex tools. There are over 7,000 languages today.

Laughing Babies (03:00)

Studies show that babies' cries mimic the vocal inflections of their mothers. Dr. Gina Moreau believes that the laughter and smiling of a baby is a method of survival.

Laughing Animals (04:35)

Pogue attempts to tickle animals at the zoo. Listen to the laughs of primates in what Ross believes is the evolution of laughter.

Laughter Makes Us Human (02:42)

Pogue has his laughter recorded as part of a study on human laughter. Michael Owren explains that in every-day life, laughter is typically used in non-humorous situations as a method of cooperation.

Mysteries of Human Evolution (06:25)

Zerey Alemseged tells the story of how he became a paleoanthropologist. He describes how he discovered Selam.

Zeray Makes Ethopia Proud (04:16)

Over 6 years, Alemseged uses dental drills to remove the sandstone surrounding Selam. He finds that the baby would have been able to walk upright. X-rays reveal Selam to be a three-year old girl.

Credits: What Makes Us Human? (01:52)

Credits: What Makes Us Human?

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What Makes Us Human?

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Scientists have struggled for centuries to pinpoint the qualities that distinguish humans from the millions of other animal species with which we share the vast majority of our DNA. In this NOVA scienceNOW program, we explore those traits once thought to be uniquely human to discover their evolutionary roots. Distributed by PBS Distribution.

Length: 55 minutes

Item#: BVL111645

Copyright date: ©2012

Closed Captioned

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