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The Documentary “Origins of Us”: Environmental Psychology

Watching the documentary “Origins of us” elicits the thought of where we have come from as a species. It is impossible to watch this documentary without wondering how our ancestors looked like millions of years ago. Instinctively, it is essential to think about how our ancestors moved around and their activities. This documentary brings the feeling of a connection to our origin. It makes one feel like they are supposed to know more about our history to resonate more with nature. Learning about our ancestors’ lifestyles and comparing them to modern human beings help us appreciate the developments we have made.

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After watching the documentary, the two exciting facts found in the documentary are early humans needed to walk to survive better, but this upright position puts a lot of weight on the vertebra and spine, causing great pain as the human ages. The other interesting fact is that humans developed a bigger gluteus maxima muscle to run faster in the upright position. Doctor Alice explains that as the human species evolved, the need to walk upright became paramount. The vertebrae and the spinal cord had to adapt and change to this new feature. The lower vertebrae are more significant and thicker to support the whole weight of the organism. The weight of the being exerts pressure on the spine, which causes a lot of pain to the organism as it ages (BBC Two, 13:28). Therefore, despite needing to walk upright on two feet, it is a position that inflicts a lot of pain on the human being.

The second interesting fact that can be found in this documentary is that the gluteus maxima in humans grew bigger not just for no reason but to aid in running. This fact is explained by Professor Lieberman in an experiment where he uses a demonstrative experiment to explain the gluteus maximus muscles’ reaction as he runs. Professor Lieberman explains that this evolutionary adaptation occurred due to the need to run faster in the upright position (BBC Two, 38:57). Running in an upright position can be challenging, and therefore the body had to adjust itself to enable this process. The bigger the gluteus maximus muscles, the faster the individual can run, since the gluteus maximus helps push the leg backwards while running.

There are several questions that this video raises since all the facts given have scientific explanations and are supported by evidence. The first question would be, would have the evolutionary changes taken place if the climate never changed? Secondly, how did the physical adaptations that took place become genetically inherited among the species? These two questions are the most intriguing inquiries that can arise from watching this documentary. Getting answers to them would settle a lot of queries that I have regarding this video.

The main takeaway of this documentary is that human anatomy is an excellent key for studying evolution. After the environmental changes had occurred, our ancestors had to adapt to the new circumstances, which could be best achieved through anatomical changes that helped develop unique lifestyles which ensured the survival of the species. The human anatomy is different from that of other primates due to the need to adapt to a new world, an example is the enlarged gluteus maximus as compared to that of other primates. This documentary would help understand environmental psychology since it explains a lot about the interdependence between species and the environment. Every aspect of evolution is based on factors of the environment.


BBC Two. (2011). Origins of Us: Bones [Video]. YouTube. Web.

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