Great Human Odyssey

PBS/Nova is airing 2-hour special Oct 5 on The Great Human Odyssey. It seeks to answer the question of how our species, originating in Africa, has ended up all over the earth.

Program Description
Our ancient human ancestors once lived only in Africa, in tiny bands of a few thousand hunter-gatherers. Then we moved out of our African cradle, spreading rapidly to every corner of the planet. How did we acquire the skills, technology and talent to thrive in every environment on earth? How did our prehistoric forebears cross the Sahara on foot, survive frigid ice ages, and sail to remote Pacific islands? “Great Human Odyssey” is a spectacular global journey following their footsteps out of Africa along a trail of fresh scientific clues. With unique glimpses of today’s Kalahari hunters, Siberian reindeer herders, and Polynesian navigators, we discover amazing skills that hint at how our ancestors survived and prospered long ago.


Looks good, thanks for posting. As new info seems to come out rapidly, it will be interesting to see how up to date they are with the various migrations since filming these things probably takes a year or two


Sounds cool. I watched First Peoples, a documentary series that was on PBS in summer 2015. Those documentaries crystallized my emerging interest in human evolution, a subject that I probably would have not countenanced several years ago. Now I feel that the mysteries of human prehistory and evolution deepen the wonders of God.

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Well, just watched it. Nice entertainment, but was a little disappointed in how little time was spent on the science and how much was fluff. I guess to be expected. And pretty much ignored Australia.

I thought it was excellent. Many top scientists, and so many stunning locations. And all those the wonderful people groups!

If the Native Americans somehow migrated from Asia to get to the “new world,” how come they don’t look like people of the Asia north pacific rim region? These two races look very different. You might answer because they evolved. OK, then why didn’t the Chinese and Japanese evolve to look like the Native Americans? Or why didn’t some of the Asian people evolve to look like Native Americans.

I believe we look at their DNA and there are also physical attributes that they share. Did you know that people from India are also Asian, even though they don’t look like the Chinese?

Hello Walt,

Native Americans look a lot like North Asians.


I wonder if he’s even met any Native Americans.

The reason Asians didn’t evolve to look like Native Americans is that evolution doesn’t produce an absolute improvement in a species. Each individual in a group becomes better adapted to its own environment. Conditions in Northeast Asia and conditions in America produced slightly different characteristics in the people living there. I have always been struck by how much native groups in Siberia resemble Native Americans.

One of my favorite stories in a Reader’s Digest was submitted by a man from India who was studying at the University of Arizona. Many Native Americans lived in his dorm. One morning he noticed that one of the Native Americans had put a sign on his door that said, "Here is your chance to see a real live Indian.

The Nova series does an amazing job of presenting science with enough entertainment value to interest the general public, not just specialists.

Of course, among Native Americans there is a wide range of phenotypic expression, perhaps relating to the different waves of migration. It is sort of interesting that northern living Asians and Native Americans did not lose their pigmentation like Europeans. Is it because of the lack of time such a trait would take to become common? or perhaps with a diet that would include liver, salmon, and such, vitamin D deficiency was not a problem?

I know this observation is pretty obvious, but I think the Native Americans (Inuits I think they are called) that live in northern Canada look very similar to the indigenous peoples that live in Siberia. I think some of the Siberian natives belong to the Turkic ethnic groups, and I wonder how closely related the Native Americans are to them if there are any relations. I’m also curious if the cultures of the Inuits and Siberian natives have a lot of similarities.

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I’ve met many Native Americans in my life, and most of them share some Asian feature (e.g. black hair). I met a Tlingit Indian in Alaska (He was the pilot of a small aircraft I was in, and that flight was spectacular). He looked very much like what we think the typical Asian should look like. btw, one of the BioLogos contributors is a Native American–a Cherokee.

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