Dawn of Humanity

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September 10, 2015 at 03:48 PM EDT

How did ape-like ancestors (think the famous “Lucy”) eventually lead to humans? Dawn of Humanity, a film about the discovery and retrieval of the fossils that link the timelines that debuted online Thursday, aims to answer the question. 

The two-hour special is the first time PBS has offered its viewers a chance to watch its content before it airs. The network chose to release Dawn of Humanity because the film’s subject matter coincides with the recent news of discoveries of new species from research institutions around the world, including University of the Witwatersrand and the South African Department of Science and Technology/National Research Foundation. 

Dawn of Humanity follows the 2013 expedition to the South African cave known as Rising Star in the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage site, where research professor Lee Berger found bones belonging to the first relatives of humans, called the Homo naledi.

Dawn of Humanity is available online, and will air on PBS Wednesday, Sept. 16 at 9 p.m. ET. 

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