Segments in this Video

First Asian (02:19)


Approximately 63,000 years ago, a woman died in Luang Prabang, Laos. Her bones are the oldest modern human remains in East Asia.

Luang Prabang (03:14)

The wet tropical climate destroys most fossils in Asia. Fabrice Demeter and Laura Lynn Shackelford discovered a modern human skull in their dig site. The skull is 63,000 years old, over 20,000 years older than humans were thought to be in Asia.

Migration Out of Africa (03:50)

Human migration of out Africa was thought to be a coastal route. Jeff Rose excavated the hills near the coast of Oman, but found no evidence of prehistoric humans.

Migration Routes (03:10)

Rose moved his excavation inland to an ancient river valley. He discovered stone chips and Nubian points, African technology of the time.

Climate Migration (03:14)

Modern humans followed rivers and migrated to the river valleys where there was no competition. Rose hypothesizes they were curious beings that wanted to see what was past the sea.

Artifacts (02:59)

Prehistoric humans followed the Mekong River into Laos. The migrating humans would have not been carrying tools, but making them with local materials such as bamboo.

Chinese Discoveries (03:04)

Chang Zhu Jin excavated a cave in China and discovered a 102,000 year old mandible with archaic and modern human characteristics.

Interbreeding (04:51)

The mandible was not proven to be definitively Homo sapien or Homo erectus and may be proof that the two species interbred.

Denisova Cave (03:24)

The cave in the Altai Mountains was home to Neanderthals and modern humans. A small finger fragment was found, dating back 41,000 years.

Denisovans (04:01)

Experts determined the finger fragment uncovered in Denisova was a new species. Their DNA is present in humans today.

Overlapping Genes (01:57)

When modern humans migrated out of Africa, they encountered an area with different archaic humans. The two species interbred.

Tibetan DNA (04:43)

The people on the Tibetan Plateau today have a genetic mutation that allows them to live in the Himalayas. This gene came from interbreeding between the Denisovans and modern humans.

Carotene Origins (02:18)

The skin is the largest organ in the human body; carotene makes it tough. Carotene arose from interbreeding between Neanderthals and modern humans.

Human DNA (02:01)

The DNA of modern humans is a mixture from archaic humans; one to three percent is Neanderthal DNA.

Disease Fighting Genes (04:04)

The human immune systems fights diseases. Modern humans inherited HLA genes, responsible for regulating the immune system, from archaic humans.

Gene Migration (03:15)

Modern humans inherited genes from Denisovans, Neanderthals, and possibly Homo erectus. These genetic variations were carried through across the world.

Credits: First Peoples: Asia (00:31)

Credits: First Peoples: Asia

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First Peoples: Asia

Part of the Series : First Peoples
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What happened when early humans ventured out of Africa and into Asia? Where did they go and whom did they meet along the way? The latest evidence suggests they left far earlier than previously thought and interbred with other types of ancient human - Homo erectus, Neanderthals and also the Denisovans, whose existence was established only five years ago when geneticists extracted DNA from a tiny fragment of finger bone. Because these ancient humans mated with our ancestors, their genes have found a home in our DNA. More than that, they’ve helped us survive and thrive.

Length: 55 minutes

Item#: BVL129846

Copyright date: ©2015

Closed Captioned

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