eighteen minutes to tell you what happened over the past six million years
we all have come from a long way here in africa and converged in this region of africa which is a place where ninety percent of our evolutionary process took place
and i say that not because i am african but it's in africa that you find the earliest evidence for human ancestors
all right i'm a paleoanthropologist and my job is to define man 's place in nature and explore what makes us human and today i will use selam the earliest child ever discovered to tell you a story of all of us
in december of two thousand in an area called dikika it's in the northeastern part of ethiopia and selam means peace in many ethiopian languages we use that name to celebrate peace in the region and in the planet
i did some digging because that's what we do to know about my host you don't just jump into an invitation and i learned that the first technology appeared in the form of stone tools two point six million years ago
first entertainment comes evidence from flutes that are thirty five thousand years old and evidence for first design comes seventy five thousand years old beads and
you can do the same with your genes and track them back in time and then the analysis of living humans and chimpanzees teaches us today that we diverged sometime around seven million years ago
and that these two species share over ninety eight percent of the same genetic material i think knowing this is a very useful context within which we can think of our ancestry
however then the analysis informs us only about the beginning and the end telling us nothing about what happened in the middle so for us paleoanthropologists
our job is to find the hard evidence the fossil evidence to fill in this gap and see the different stages of development because it's only when you do that that you can talk about
it's only when you do that you can talk about how we looked like and how we behaved at different times and how those likes and looks and behaviors changed through time
that then gives you an access to explore the biological mechanisms and forces that are responsible for this gradual change that made us what we are today
but finding the hard evidence is a very complicated endeavor it's a systematic and scientific approach which takes you to places that are remote hot hostile and often with no
of the locals and using just shovels and picks i made my way i was the first person to actually drive a car to the spot
and you find nothing for years and years when i go to places like this which are paleontological sites it's like going to a game park an extinct game park but
what you find are not the human remains such as selam and lucy on a day to day basis you find elephants rhinos monkeys pigs et cetera
but you could ask how could these large mammals live in this desert environment of course they cannot but i'm telling you already that
the environment and the carrying capacity of this region was drastically different from what we have today a very important environmental lesson could be learned from this
anyway once we made it there then it's a game park as i said an extinct game park and our ancestors lived in that game park but were just the minorities they were not as successful and as widespread
as the homo sapiens that we are to tell you just an example an anecdote about their rarity i was going to this place every year and would do field work here
and the assistants of course helped me do the surveys they would find a bone and tell me here is what you're looking for i would say no that's an elephant again another one that 's a monkey that 's a pig et cetera so
one of my assistants who never went to school said to me listen zeray you either don't know what you're looking for or you're looking in the wrong place
it was then after such hard work and many frustrating years that we found selam and you see the face here covered by sandstone
and here is actually the spinal column and the whole torso encased in a sandstone block because she was buried by a river
what you have here seems to be nothing but contains an incredible amount of scientific information that helps us explore what makes us human
this is the earliest and most complete juvenile human ancestor ever found in the history of paleoanthropology an amazing piece of our long long history there were these three people and me and i am taking the
how would you feel if you were me you have something extraordinary in your hand but you are in the middle of nowhere the feeling i had was a deep and
quiet happiness and excitement of course accompanied by a huge sense of responsibility of making sure everything is safe
here is a close up of the fossil after five years of cleaning preparation and description which was very long and i had to expose the bones from the sandstone block i just showed you in the previous slide
it took five years in a way this was like the second birth for the child after three point three million years but the labor was very long
and here is full scale it's a tiny bone and in the middle is the minister of ethiopian tourism who came to visit the national museum of ethiopia
i was working there and you see me worried and trying to protect my child because you don't leave anyone with this kind of child even a minister
so then once you've done that the next stage is to know what it is
then it was possible to compare we were able to tell that she belonged to the human family tree because the legs the foot and some features
the skull with a comparably aged chimpanzee and little george bush here you see that you have vertical forehead
and you see that in humans because of the development of the pre frontal cortex it's called you don't see that in chimpanzees and
you don't see this very projecting canine so she belongs to our family tree but within that of course you do detailed analysis and we know now that
she belongs to the lucy species known as australopithecus afarensis the next exciting question is girl or boy and how old was she when she died
you can determine the sex of the individual based on the size of the teeth how you know in primates there is this phenomenon called sexual dimorphism which simply means males are larger than females and males have larger teeth than the females
but to do that you need the permanent dentition which you don't see here because what you have here are the baby teeth but using the ct scanning technology which is normally used for medical purposes
you can go deep into the mouth and come up with this beautiful image showing you both the baby teeth here and the still growing adult teeth here
so when you measure those teeth it was clear that she started out to be a girl with very small canine teeth and to know how old she was when she died what you do is you do
and you say how much time would be required to form this amount of teeth and the answer was three so this
died when she was about three three point three million years ago so with all that information the big question is what do we actually
what does she tell us to answer this question we can phrase another question what do we actually know about our ancestors we want to know how they looked like how they behaved how they walked around and how they
lived and grew up and among the answers that you can get from this skeleton are included first
this skeleton documents for the first time how infants looked over three million years ago and second
that she walked upright but had some adaptation for tree climbing and more interesting however is the brain in this child was still growing
at age three if you have a still growing brain it's a human behavior in chimps by age three the brain is formed over ninety percent
but that care means also you learn you spend more time with your parents and that's very characteristic of humans and it's called childhood which is this extended dependence of human children on their family or parents so
the still growing brain in this individual tells us that childhood which requires an incredible
social organization a very complex social organization emerged over three million years ago so by being at the cusp of our evolutionary history
but not everything was human and i will give you a very exciting example this is called the hyoid bone it's a bone which is right here it supports your tongue from behind
your voice box it determines the type of voice you produce it was not known in the fossil record and we have it in this skeleton
when we did the analysis of this bone it was clear that it looked very chimp like chimpanzee like so
if you were there three point three million years ago to hear when this girl was crying out for her mother she would have sounded more like a chimpanzee than a human maybe you're wondering so you see this
feature human feature ape feature what does that tell us you know that is very exciting for us because it demonstrates that things were changing slowly and progressively and that evolution is in the making
to summarize the significance of this fossil we can say the following up to now the knowledge that we had about our ancestors came essentially from adult individuals
because the fossils the baby fossils were missing they don't preserve well as you know so the
knowledge that we had about our ancestors on how they looked like how they behaved was kind of biased toward the adults
imagine somebody coming from mars and his job is to report on the type of people occupying our planet earth and you hide all the babies the children
and he goes back and reports can you imagine how much biased his report would be that's what somehow we were doing so far in the absence of the fossil children so i think the new fossil fixes this problem
so i think the most important question at the end is what do we actually learn from specimens like this and from our past in general
of course in addition to extracting this huge amount of scientific information as to what makes us human you know the many human ancestors
that have existed over the past six million years and there are more than ten they did not have the knowledge the technology and sophistications that we homo sapiens have today
if this species ancient species would travel in time and see us today they would very much be very proud of their legacy
now the question is we homo sapiens today are in a position to decide about the future of our planet possibly more
so the question is are we up to the challenge and can we really do better than these primitive small brained ancestors
among the most pressing challenges that our species is faced with today are the chronic
problems of africa needless to list them here and there are more competent people to talk about this still
in my opinion we have two choices one is to continue to see a poor ill crying africa carrying guns that depends on other people
to promote an africa which is confident peaceful independent but cognizant of its huge problems and
great values at the same time i am for the second option and i'm sure many of you are
and the key is to promote a positive african attitude towards africa
because we africans concentrate i am from ethiopia by the way we concentrate too much on how we are seen from
or from outside i think it's important to promote in a more positive way on how we see ourselves that's what i call african positive african attitude so
  • celebrate [´selibreit] 移动到这儿单词发声  vt.庆祝;表扬;赞美   (初中英语单词)
  • invitation [,invi´teiʃən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.邀请;请帖;吸引   (初中英语单词)
  • entertainment [,entə´teinmənt] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.招(款)待;联欢会   (初中英语单词)
  • analysis [ə´næləsis] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.分解;分析(结果)   (初中英语单词)
  • sometime [´sʌmtaim] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.曾经 a.从前的   (初中英语单词)
  • knowing [´nəuiŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.会意的,心照不宣的   (初中英语单词)
  • beginning [bi´giniŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.开始,开端;起源   (初中英语单词)
  • responsible [ri´spɔnsəbəl] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.尽责的;责任重大的   (初中英语单词)
  • complicated [´kɔmplikeitid] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.结构复杂的;难懂的   (初中英语单词)
  • scientific [,saiən´tifik] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.科学(上)的   (初中英语单词)
  • remote [ri´məut] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.遥远的;偏僻的   (初中英语单词)
  • hostile [´hɔstail] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.敌方的,敌意的   (初中英语单词)
  • actually [´æktʃuəli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.事实上;实际上   (初中英语单词)
  • capacity [kə´pæsiti] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.容量;智能;能力   (初中英语单词)
  • elephant [´elifənt] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.象   (初中英语单词)
  • monkey [´mʌŋki] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.猴子 v.乱弄;胡闹   (初中英语单词)
  • column [´kɔləm] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.柱;柱状物;纵队   (初中英语单词)
  • amount [ə´maunt] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.总数;数量 v.合计   (初中英语单词)
  • ancestor [´ænsəstə] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.祖宗,祖先   (初中英语单词)
  • amazing [ə´meiziŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.惊人的;惊奇的   (初中英语单词)
  • extraordinary [ik´strɔ:dinəri] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.非常的;额外的   (初中英语单词)
  • excitement [ik´saitmənt] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.兴奋;骚动;煽动   (初中英语单词)
  • responsibility [ri,spɔnsə´biliti] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.责任(心);职责;任务   (初中英语单词)
  • preparation [,prepə´reiʃən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.准备;预习(时间)   (初中英语单词)
  • description [di´skripʃən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.描写   (初中英语单词)
  • expose [ik´spəuz] 移动到这儿单词发声  vt.揭露,暴露;陈列   (初中英语单词)
  • previous [´pri:viəs] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.先,前,以前的   (初中英语单词)
  • minister [´ministə] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.部长;大臣 v.伺候   (初中英语单词)
  • working [´wə:kiŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.工人的;劳动的   (初中英语单词)
  • permanent [´pə:mənənt] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.永久的;不变的   (初中英语单词)
  • medical [´medikəl] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.医学的;医疗的   (初中英语单词)
  • measure [´meʒə] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.量度;范围 vt.测量   (初中英语单词)
  • phrase [freiz] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.短语;词组;措词   (初中英语单词)
  • childhood [´tʃaildhud] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.幼年(时代);早期   (初中英语单词)
  • complex [´kɔmpleks] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.复杂的 n.综合企业   (初中英语单词)
  • missing [´misiŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.缺掉的;失踪的   (初中英语单词)
  • preserve [pri´zə:v] 移动到这儿单词发声  v.保藏 n.保藏物   (初中英语单词)
  • planet [´plænit] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.行星   (初中英语单词)
  • absence [´æbsəns] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.不在,缺席;缺乏   (初中英语单词)
  • addition [ə´diʃən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.加;加法;附加物   (初中英语单词)
  • challenge [´tʃælindʒ] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.&vt.向….挑战;怀疑   (初中英语单词)
  • primitive [´primitiv] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.原始的 n.原始人   (初中英语单词)
  • promote [prə´məut] 移动到这儿单词发声  vt.促进;发扬;助长   (初中英语单词)
  • peaceful [´pi:sfəl] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.和平的;平静的   (初中英语单词)
  • concentrate [´kɔnsəntreit] 移动到这儿单词发声  v.聚集;浓缩;全神贯注   (初中英语单词)
  • define [di´fain] 移动到这儿单词发声  vt.解释;说明;限定   (高中英语单词)
  • explore [ik´splɔ:] 移动到这儿单词发声  v.勘探;探索;探查   (高中英语单词)
  • learned [´lə:nid] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.有学问的,博学的   (高中英语单词)
  • species [´spi:ʃi:z] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.(生物的)种,类   (高中英语单词)
  • access [´ækses] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.接近;通路;进入   (高中英语单词)
  • gradual [´grædʒuəl] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.逐渐的   (高中英语单词)
  • finding [´faindiŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.发现物;判断;结果   (高中英语单词)
  • environment [in´vaiərənmənt] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.郊区;周围;条件   (高中英语单词)
  • incredible [in´kredəbəl] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.不能相信的;惊人的   (高中英语单词)
  • nowhere [´nəuweə] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.无处;不知道   (高中英语单词)
  • phenomenon [fi´nɔminən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.现象;奇迹;珍品   (高中英语单词)
  • skeleton [´skelitən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.骨骼;骷髅   (高中英语单词)
  • upright [´ʌprait] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.直立的 ad.直立地   (高中英语单词)
  • behavior [bi´heiviə] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.举止,行为   (高中英语单词)
  • characteristic [,kæriktə´ristik] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.特有的 n.特性   (高中英语单词)
  • significance [sig´nifikəns] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.意义;重要性   (高中英语单词)
  • needless [´ni:dləs] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.不必要的;无用的   (高中英语单词)
  • competent [´kɔmpitənt] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.能干的,有资格的   (高中英语单词)
  • confident [´kɔnfidənt] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.有信心的,自信的   (高中英语单词)
  • positive [´pɔzətiv] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.确定的   (高中英语单词)
  • fossil [´fɔsəl] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.老顽固 a.化石的   (英语四级单词)
  • extinct [ik´stiŋkt] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.熄灭的;灭绝的   (英语四级单词)
  • anecdote [´ænikdəut] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.轶事;趣闻   (英语四级单词)
  • sandstone [´sændstəun] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.砂岩   (英语四级单词)
  • trying [´traiiŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.难堪的;费劲的   (英语四级单词)
  • vertical [´və:tikəl] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.垂直的 n.垂直线   (英语四级单词)
  • adaptation [ædæp´teiʃən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.适应;改写(本)   (英语四级单词)
  • evolution [,i:və´lu:ʃən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.进化;发展;发育   (英语四级单词)
  • essentially [i´senʃəli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.本质上,基本上   (英语四级单词)
  • northeastern [,nɔ:θ´i:stən] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.&a.向东北(的)   (英语六级单词)
  • biological [,baiə´lɔdʒikəl] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.生物学(上)的   (英语六级单词)
  • systematic [,sisti´mætik] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.有系统的,成体系的   (英语六级单词)
  • spinal [´spainl] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.脊椎骨,脊骨的   (英语六级单词)
  • juvenile [´dʒu:vənail] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.少年的 n.青少年   (英语六级单词)
  • taking [´teikiŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.迷人的 n.捕获物   (英语六级单词)
  • sexual [´sekʃuəl] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.性(欲)的   (英语六级单词)
  • normally [´nɔ:məli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.正常情况下;通常   (英语六级单词)
  • extended [iks´tendid] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.伸长的;广大的   (英语六级单词)
  • dependence [di´pendəns] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.信赖,依赖   (英语六级单词)
  • summarize [´sʌməraiz] 移动到这儿单词发声  vt.概括,总结;摘要   (英语六级单词)