The Human Family Tree: Tracing the Human Journey Through Time
Airs on National Geographic Channel Sunday, August 30, 2009, 9pm
The Genographic Project is creating a picture of when and where ancient humans moved around the world by mapping the genetic markers in modern peoples. These great migrations eventually led the descendants of a small group of Africans to occupy even the farthest reaches of the earth.
200,000 – 150,000 years ago: The genetic journey of everyone alive today began with one woman — “Scientific Eve” — who lived in Africa and passed along her DNA through special cell structures called mitochondria, which only women pass down to further generations.
195,000 years ago: No one knows when modern humans first appeared, but the oldest skulls and bones of anatomically modern humans were found in Ethiopia’s Omo River Valley by paleoanthropologist Richard Leakey in 1967. Our ancient homo sapien ancestors remained in Africa for as long as three-quarters of our history as a species.
150,000 years ago: The first branch point on our human family tree is marked by the earliest major movement of humans: One group headed to southern Africa and the other to eastern Africa — and later, to the rest of the world.