Humanity's Ancient Ancestors
Josh Gates travels around the globe to investigate the most fundamental mystery of all -- humanity's origins. See photos from Josh's journey to Tanzania in search of our ancient ancestors and their long forgotten secrets.
Meeting the Maasai
My journey to explore the world of our ancient ancestors begins on the tribal lands of the Maasai. These legendary cattle rustlers and warriors are an indelible feature on Tanzania’s landscape. I remain overwhelmed at the hospitality of this remarkable group, though I probably don’t need a refill on the welcome drink of boiling hot cow’s blood.
Reading the Bones
Examining a wildebeest bone from a lion kill and comparing it to microscopic marks from a similar kill made 3 million years ago. By comparing the marks from lion’s teeth as well as butchering marks from early ancestors, Dr. Charles Musiba is demonstrating that our earliest ancestors were no scavengers - they were skilled hunters with complex organization and communication.
Journeying across the savannah of East Africa to explore the world of our ancient ancestors. However, with more than 90 wild lions living in this area, man is definitely not at the top of the food chain.
Joining the Tribe
After a long day hunting with the Hadza tribe, they managed to take down a caracal - an African cat. For me, the experience was both distressing and eye-opening - a look into the life of a hunter society where food is not guaranteed and where every meal costs a life.
Meet You, Version 1.0
Dr. John Hawkes from the University of Wisconsin shows me the fossilized skull of one of our earliest relatives, Sahelanthropus tchadensis (let’s call him Chad). This guy lived 7 million years ago and was only discovered in 2002 - just the latest find in the ever-evolving story of our collective past.
The Maasai in Tanzania are instantly recognizable due to their brightly colored necklaces and plaid garments known as shuka cloth. These thick coverings protect them from the sun and the harsh environment of the African veldt. The origins of the patterns remains unclear, but were likely introduced through trade centuries ago.
Might as well Jump
The Maasai jumping ceremony, or Adamu, can be a competition among young warriors or a mating ceremony to attract a partner. I was invited to face off against the best jumper in the village. It was no contest, and in my case, white men really can’t jump.
Looking for Dessert
A female lion chowing down on a wildebeest in Tanzania. Even though I was inside a 4x4, when she locked eyes on me, I froze. These animals are utterly majestic, and sometimes utterly terrifying.