A breathtaking look at the death-defying discovery of our new human ancestor

A trove of bones found deep inside an almost-inaccessible cave has revealed what appears to be a new human ancestor. That’s the subject of “Dawn of Humanity,” a new documentary from NOVA and National Geographic that premieres online Thursday.

The documentary focuses on what went on behind the scenes of a discovery announced Sep. 10 that’s already changing ideas about the human family tree and how exactly we evolved from from earlier primates.

Dr. William Harcourt-Smith, a researcher with the paleontology division of the American Museum of Natural History and a professor of paleoanthropology at Lehman College, told Tech Insider’s Kevin Loria that these were “some of the most difficult conditions ever for paleontologists to work in.”

To get inside the cave, a specially recruited team of female scientists small in stature had to squeeze through a dark chute just over seven inches wide. Lee Berger, the paleontologist who recruited them, said these were “six people willing to quite literally risk their lives on a daily basis.”

Here’s the trailer for “Dawn of Humanity,” airing online now and on PBS on September 16.


NOW WATCH: Secrets of the American Museum of Natural History

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