TV Review: Prehistoric Autopsy

The BBC is really pumping out some good documentaries at the moment, particularly on scientific topics. For three nights in a row we were treated to some really engaging exploration of three of our most important hominid cousins and ancestors in Prehistoric Autopsy.

Filmed at the University of Glasgow, with a high-calibre cast of experts hosted by physical anthropologist Professor Alice Roberts and biologist Dr. George McGavin, the three-part series explored what we know of the behaviour, culture and anatomy of a Neandethal, a Homo erectus and an Australopithecus afarensis.

Each part demonstrates cutting-edge scientific methods and the dialogue between the experts embraces what they don’t know, and what they disagree on, as much as what they can set out as fact (Professor Roberts is especially sceptical of some of the claims made by her colleagues, in a cheerfully doubtful way which serves as an insight into how scientific discourse works).

The climax of each episode was the unveiling of a painstakingly created, anatomically accurate, spookilly-realistic life-sized model of the subject hominid.

A series well-worth catching on BBC iPlayer if you can.


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