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Bones of Turkana

This National Geographic collection of video segments and discussion guides from the film Bones of Turkana invites you to use current classroom technologies to give students the opportunity to learn about human evolution and to explore one of the few places on the planet that offers the more than 4.5-million year continuum of the human story. 

http://education.nationalgeographic.com/education/bones-of-turkana/?ar_a=1

Hunting for Fossils: A Student in Kenya

This National Geographic video segment takes place in the area around ancient Lake Turkana, Kenya. This area is known as a cradle of human life. There is evidence that hominids lived here 4.2 million years ago. This video tells the story of Dr. Jason Lewis, a paleoanthropologist at the Turkana Basin Institute. Lewis travels the world in the pursuit of science. This video also gives insight into the conditions of the life of a scientist working at Lake Turkana and the reasons fossils are so abundant in the region. Lake Turkana is an ideal location to dig for fossils because over the past 4 million years, sediment has continued to gather there, and geological activity has brought fossils to the surface. The archaeological team featured in the segment examines human and animal fossils.

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What Makes Us Human?

This National Geographic video segment from Bones of Turkana focuses on some of the traits that define us as modern humans. The three traits described are bipedalism, language, and tool making. Humans share these three traits, which together differentiate them from other species. Human traits evolved as a result of natural selection, meaning that over time, members of the species who were able to adapt to the environment survived and passed on genes for the said traits through offspring.

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Discoveries at Lake Turkana

This National Geographic Television video segment focuses on significant fossil discoveries made at Lake Turkana. The video assumes some familiarity with the theory of evolution, the process of how organisms developed from earlier forms of life. Evolution is not a linear process, but a dynamic one. One species does not morph directly into another, but diverges from its ancestors. Evolution takes place throughout a population over a long period of time due to environmental pressures. Over the past several decades, Maeve Leakey and her team have unearthed fossils in Lake Turkana dating back to the Australopithecus, a 4.2 million year-old species, and the first hominid to walk upright. The next oldest species is the 1.9 million-year old Homo habilis, a group capable of making stone tools. The 1.5 million year old Homo erectus species had a much larger brain than its predecessors and the first modern humans lived in Africa about 200,000 years ago. Fossil records for each of these human ancestors have been discovered at Lake Turkana.

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The Birth of Technology: Inside the Stone

This National Geographic video segment features Dr. Hélène Roche, an archaeologist at the Turkana Basin Institute. She has worked at Lake Turkana for more than two decades, uncovering and piecing back together valuable tools used by ancient hominids. This video gives insight into the beginnings of technology created by hominids and the correlation between brain size and technology. Dr. Roche explains that the hominids who created these tools had to use abstract thinking, creativity and visualization to craft the tools. These thought processes indicate that these tool-making hominids had complex brains.

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