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Becoming Human [Blu-ray]

216 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Nothing is more fascinating to us than, well, us. Where did we come from? What makes us human? NOVA's groundbreaking investigation explores how new discoveries are transforming views of our earliest ancestors. Featuring interviews with world-renowned scientists, footage shot in the trenches as fossils were unearthed, and stunning computer-generated animation, Becoming Human brings early hominids to life, examining how they lived and how we became the creative and adaptable modern humans of today. In the first episode, NOVA encounters Selam, the amazingly complete remains of a 3 million year-old child, packed with clues to why we split from the apes, came down from the trees, and started walking upright. In gripping forensic detail, the second episode investigates the riddle of Turkana Boy -a tantalizing fossil of Homo erectus, the first ancestor to leave Africa and colonize the globe. What led to this first great African exodus? In the final episode, Becoming Human explores the origins of us -where modern humans and our capacities for art, invention, and survival came from, and what happened when we encountered the mysterious Neanderthals. Crucial new evidence comes from the recent decoding of the Neanderthal genome. Did modern humans interbreed with Neanderthals? Exterminate them? Becoming Human examines why we survived while our other ancestral cousins-including Indonesia's bizarre 3 foot-high Hobbit -died out. And NOVA poses the intriguing question: are we still evolving today?

Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: Narrator: Lance Lewan
  • Directors: Graham Townsley
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Blu-ray, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region A/1 (Read more about DVD/Blu-ray formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: PBS
  • DVD Release Date: February 9, 2010
  • Run Time: 180 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (216 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B002TCRQ6S
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #71,926 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

37 of 40 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on March 13, 2010
Format: DVD
Becoming Human: Unearthing Our Earliest Ancestors collects thee episodes of the acclaimed documentary series NOVA exploring what the latest scientific discoveries tell us about the earliest human ancestors - and what makes us human today. The first episode, "Selam", shows how clues from the remains of a 3 million year-old child suggest why and how humanity first came down from the trees and started walking upright. The second episode applies forensics to the mystery of "Turkana Boy", a fossil of Home erectus, the first human ancestor to leave Africa and begin colonization of the globe. What caused this African exodus? The final episode, "Becoming Human", examines how human capacities for art, invention, and survival developed, and the mystery of humanity's interaction with the early Neanderthals. Did humans interbreed with Neanderthals, or cause their extermination? Why did "we" survive when other ancestral cousins died out? An extraordinary collection, and a choice pick especially for public library DVD collections and the libraries of anyone curious about the origins of humanity in prehistoric times. 3 hours, widescreen, closed captioned. Also highly recommended is the NOVA documentary "What Are Dreams? Inside the Sleeping Brain" (56 min., widescreen, closed captioned).
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Serge J. Van Steenkiste on June 1, 2010
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
NOVA does a great job of explaining to its audience how Homo Sapiens ultimately became the "winner-take-all" hominoid species. On location photography, interviews with renowned experts, and computer-generated animation allow viewers to better understand how Homo Sapiens became the final (read current) outcome of a long evolution spread over millions of years. Viewers should not be surprised that this investigation of our ancestors will be the subject of an updated documentary. For example, the researchers of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology recently revised their initial conclusions that there was no interbreeding at all between Homo Sapiens and Homo Neanderthalis based on their further study of their respective ADN. In summary, NOVA makes a noteworthy contribution to vulgarizing the science of evolutionary anthropology to the attention of a wide audience.
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17 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Guy P. Harrison on April 6, 2010
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I love this DVD. Great visuals, great narration and fairly up-to-date. It's the sort of documentary one can watch many times.

I highly recommend "Becomming Human". Nova does great work and this is one of their best, in my view. This is a brilliant overview of the human story and as humans we should all know that story!

In addition to "Becoming Human," I also recommend the following DVDs:

Walking With Cavemen

Evolution Boxed Set

National Geographic - Search for the Ultimate Survivor

--Guy P. Harrison, author of "Race and Reality: What Everyone Should Know About Our Biological Diversity" and "50 Reasons People Give for Believing in a God" (a skeptical analysis of common justifications for religious belief)
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Michael Valdivielso on February 7, 2012
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
While a tad outdated, at the time this series was made much of the information was up-to-date and they are careful NOT to state that anything is the final answer. Interesting, detailed, a tad slow and sometimes filled with drama, it also has a lot of humor. Maybe did tell me a tad too much about lice than I ever wanted to know but very well done.
Now, it was three episodes, so there is some overlap of information and, yes, they do use the computer graphics cut-scenes alot. But they assume you are watching this over a few weeks - and they just didn't change it for the DVDs.
In the end, I can't take any points away as I enjoyed it, even with all the tiny flaws. Which are just that, tiny. I would suggest watching this along with Discovering Ardi or Ice World.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Larry A. Ownbey on December 25, 2010
Format: Blu-ray Verified Purchase
An outstanding choice for anyone who is curious who we are and where we come from. This is a very well presented documentary that presents the overwhelming evidence of our origins. They do a really good job of showing how they test hypotheses with empirical evidence and laboratory procedures. In this outstanding presentation they show how (DNA) genetic conservation also very strongly supports the theory of our origins. Becoming Human [Blu-ray]
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By FishLight on November 25, 2011
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I use this series to introduce both what we know about the somewhat winding roads of human evolution but also the processes by which we study human evolution to a college Evolution class (I think it is more than clear enough to use with younger students, however). I especially like the segment on Homo floresiensis, which emphasizes that we continue to discover and wrestle with mysterious species and what they tell us about the arc of evolution. I emphasize multidisciplinary thinking in my classes and this series makes it clear that what we know about human evolution comes from a variety of fields, from classic paleontologists digging bones in Africa to cultural anthropologists making inferences from ancient burial sites to molecular geneticists extracting ancient DNA from Neanderthals. Along those lines, they present a very nice introduction to molecular clocks that they use throughout the three videos. As with any video of this nature, there is a bit more story-telling than I wish there were - particularly the story about Turkana boy that strays quite far from the narrative about the evidence - but overall, it represents the best and most up-to-date and modern understanding of human origins available at this point in time.
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Becoming Human [Blu-ray]
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