The Great Human Odyssey

Great Human Odyssey posterHeader-image-StephenBy Robert K Stephen

(TORONTO, ON) – If you are familiar with the theory of Darwinism, the three part series The Great Human Odyssey, featured on the CBC’s The Nature of Things will come as no surprise to you, but it digs and probes a bit deeper than your high school memories will have afforded you.

Archaeologist Niobe Thompson is your host and narrator for this three part series that debuts on February 12 at 8:00 pm. The first episode is called Rise of a Species.

There is no room for the old Adam and Eve story here. It’s all about survival of the fittest and the ability to adapt to a changing environment. At one point, climate change was so great Homo sapiens were reduced to some estimated 600 breeding individuals.

Thompson’s question in this part of the series centres on why humans are still standing today as they are a species with no ecological niche. They are everywhere and have adapted supremely to all environments.

Homo sapiens originated in a verdant African environment that gradually changed to a harsh desert. Homo sapiens struggled to survive drought-like conditions through ingenuity and memory of how to survive.

The adverse conditions prepared the human race for its survival into the modern day. The ability to adapt and innovation to survive in a harsh environment.

The key to human survival being resilience, innovation, and flexibility was born in ancient times, yet still exists today, which has helped us thrive and prosper.

The second Great Ice Age caused massive drought in Africa forcing the surviving population toward the South African coast, where marine life offered an abundance of nutrients. Sharp edges used for hunting were developed here, as well as chemicals used to create colours for rock painting.

These paintings are still mostly not understood today, but they do show a passion for art early in the development of Homo sapiens. The painting materials required an advanced knowledge of chemistry to create.

Thompson explains that this rock painting, on the South African seacoast, showed an ability to communicate and preserve knowledge through symbolic language.

Was this the beginning of the development of the human language? Did these early Homo sapiens actually have a language?

Yes, is the answer of the archaeologists.

To illustrate adaptability, Thompson takes us to Badjao in the Philippines. This is insurrection territory, but Thompson joins a family of breath-holding divers that can stay underwater for some 5 ½ minutes, hunting for food.

Given that brain damage sets in at about 6 minutes without oxygen, this is a remarkable feat, particularly at depths of 25 metres.

Spectacular cinematography and an example of the extent of what Homo sapiens must do to survive.

Although the music is a bit corny the message is delivered in a fresh an entertaining manner. Part 1 is definitely intelligent television. A rarity.

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About the Author

Robert Stephen (CSW)
Robert K Stephen writes about food and drink, travel, and lifestyle issues. He is one of the few non-national writers to be certified as a wine specialist by the Society of Wine Educators, in Washington, DC. Robert was the first associate member of the Wine Writers’ Circle of Canada. Be it Spanish cured meat, dried fruit, BBQ, or recycled bamboo place mats, Robert endeavours to escape the mundane, which is why he loves The Square. His motto is, "Have Story, Will Write."Email Robert Stephen
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