The Incredible Human Journey – Asia
In the second episode, Roberts travels to Siberia and visits an isolated community of indigenous people who still practice reindeer hunting. She uses them to ask how ancient Africans could have adapted to the hostile climate of northern Asia, and asks why Asian people look so different from Africans. She explores an alternative to the Out of Africa theory, the multiregional origin of modern humans theory that has gain support in some science community in China. According to this theory, the Chinese are not descended from anatomically modern African Homo sapiens, but evolved from a separate species of humans, called Homo erectus, rather than the Homo sapiens which produced the rest of humanity. Roberts visits the Zhoukoudian caves, in which Peking Man, the supposed Homo erectus ancestor of the Chinese, was discovered. She notes that some Chinese anthropologists and palaeontologists have shown modern Chinese physical characteristics that present in the fossil skulls, such as broad cheek bones, cranial skull shape and shovel shaped incisors which are virtually unique to Chinese people and absent in almost all other humans. Additionally she notes that the stone tools found in China seem more primitive than those elsewhere, showing that only the tools made by Homo erectus was present. However, she argues that the skull evidence is only subtle and interviews an American palaeontologist who believes, and presents, his hypothesis that the ancient Chinese humans used bamboo instead of stone, explaining the absence of sophisticated stone tools, despite no archaeological evidence in support of this hypothesis. Finally, she interviews Chinese geneticist Jin Li, who ran a study of more than 10,000 individuals scattered throughout China from 160 ethnic groups. The study, which hypothesised that the modern Chinese population evolved from Homo erectus in China, concluded that the Chinese people did in fact evolve and migrate from Africa like the rest of world’s population.