Three-part Nova explores human ancestors

NOVA  Becoming Human: Unearthing Our Earliest Ancestors
7 p.m. Tuesday, November 3, 2009 (Part 1)
7 p.m. Tuesday, November 10, 2009 (Part 2)
7 p.m. Tuesday, November 17, 2009 (Part 3)

NOVA presents a comprehensive three-part, three-hour special — investigating explosive new discoveries that are transforming the picture of how we became human. The first program explores fresh clues about our earliest ancestors in Africa, including the stunningly complete fossil nicknamed “Lucy’s Child.” These three-million-year-old bones from Ethiopia reveal humanity’s oldest and most telltale trait — upright walking, rather than a big brain. The second program tackles the mysteries of how our ancestors managed to survive in a savannah teeming with vicious predators, and when and why we first left our African cradle to colonize every corner of the earth. In the final program, NOVA probes a wave of dramatic new evidence, based partly on cutting-edge DNA analysis, that reveals new insights into how we became today’s creative and “behaviorally modern” humans and what really happened to the enigmatic Neanderthals who faded into extinction. Shot “in the trenches” as discoveries were unearthed throughout Africa and Europe, each hour of “Becoming Human” unfolds with a forensic investigation into the life and death of a specific hominid ancestor, such as Lucy’s Child. Dry bones spring back to vivid life with stunning animation, the product of a unique NOVA collaboration between