Dawn of Humanity

Dawn of Humanity

DVD cover
Genre Documentary film
Directed by Graham Townsley
Narrated by Jay O. Sanders
Theme music composer Robert Neufeld
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of episodes One episode of two hours
Producer(s) Graham Townsley
Editor(s) Emmanuel Mairesse
Running time 2 h (120 min)
Production company(s) National Geographic Studios
Distributor Public Broadcasting Service
Original network PBS
Original release Posted online September 10, 2015; first broadcast nationwide on September 16, 2015
External links

Dawn of Humanity[1] is a 2015 American documentary film that was released online on September 10, 2015, and aired nationwide in the United States on September 16, 2015. The PBS NOVA National Geographic film, in one episode of two hours, was directed and produced by Graham Townsley. The film describes the 2013 discovery, and later excavation, of the fossil remains of Homo naledi, an extinct species of hominin assigned to the genus Homo, found within the Dinaledi Chamber of the Rising Star Cave system, located in the Cradle of Humankind, South Africa.[1][2][3][4][5][6] Additionally, the National Geographic Society has multiple videos on its website covering different phases of the discovery and excavation of the fossils during a two-year period.[2][7] As of September 2015, fossils of at least fifteen individuals, amounting to 1550 specimens, have been excavated from the cave.[8]


The documentary film is narrated by Jay O. Sanders and includes the following participants[1] (alphabetized by last name):

Critical reception

Neil Genzlinger of The New York Times notes that, "Documentaries about prehistory and paleoanthropology are usually interesting, sometimes even thought-provoking. But you don’t often encounter one that’s thrilling. Yet that is a fitting adjective for “Dawn of Humanity,” a program ... that brings an aura of breaking news to a field that can often seem musty."[9] Brooke Cain of the Charlotte Observer reports that the documentary features "exclusive footage of the hair-raising descent deep into a nearly inaccessible cave to retrieve more than 1,500 hominid fossils."[10]

According to archaeologist K. Kris Hirst, Dawn of Humanity provides "a rich context for the discovery [of the fossils of Homo naledi], setting the historical and evolutionary background so that viewers can understand the significance of the discovery ... [Lee] Berger's charming personality and the hordes of other paleontologists in this video make this contextual effort easily and visually accessible to the public."[11] In addition, according to Hirst, the behavior of apes in the "Dawn of Man" sequence of Stanley Kubrick's film 2001: A Space Odyssey, largely influenced by the notions of Raymond Dart and Robert Ardrey, have been "proven false", since such violent apes have now been shown to be "vegetarians" instead.[11]

See also


  1. 1 2 3 Staff (September 10, 2015). "PBS - NOVA - Dawn of Humanity". PBS. Retrieved September 11, 2015.
  2. 1 2 Bryner, Jeanna (September 10, 2015). "In Photos: New Human Relative Shakes Up Our Family Tree". Live Science. Retrieved September 11, 2015.
  3. Li, Shirley (September 10, 2015). "NOVA, National Geographic debut human fossil record film Dawn of Humanity". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved September 11, 2015.
  4. Friedman, Lauren F. (September 10, 2015). "A breathtaking look at the death-defying discovery of our new human ancestor". Tech Insider. Retrieved September 11, 2015.
  5. Yong, Ed (September 10, 2015). "6 Tiny Cavers, 15 Odd Skeletons, and 1 Amazing New Species of Ancient Human". The Atlantic. Retrieved September 13, 2015.
  6. Berger, Lee R.; et al. (September 10, 2015). "Homo naledi, a new species of the genus Homo from the Dinaledi Chamber, South Africa". eLife. 4. doi:10.7554/eLife.09560. Retrieved September 10, 2015. Lay summary.
  7. Staff (September 10, 2015). "New Human Ancestor Discovered: Homo naledi (Exclusive Video)". National Geographic Society. Retrieved September 14, 2015.
  8. Shreeve, Jamie (10 September 2015). "This Face Changes the Human Story. But How?". National Geographic News. Retrieved 10 September 2015.
  9. Genzlinger, Neil (September 14, 2015). "Review: PBS's 'Dawn of Humanity' Puts Prehistory in a New Light". The New York Times. Retrieved September 15, 2015.
  10. Cain, Brooke (September 16, 2015). "What to Watch on Wednesday: NOVA examines 'Dawn of Humanity'". Charlotte Observer. Retrieved September 16, 2015.
  11. 1 2 Hirst, K. Kris (2015). "The Dawn of Humanity - Newly Discovered Homo Naledi Video Review - Accessible Science on the Rising Star Paleolithic Site". About.com. Retrieved September 13, 2015.
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