When 23andMe launched last November, we set out to make genetics accessible to everyone – not just the experts. So we created a series of education videos called Genetics 101. These videos educated viewers on the basics of genetics: What is a gene, what is a SNP, how genes are inherited from generation to generation, and a host of other useful topics.
But understanding your genetic code is only part of what the 23andMe Personal Genome ServiceTM offers its customers. We also want our customers to understand their genetics in the context of human evolution: How did our species evolve, how did we come to populate the globe, and how can we account for the diversity of peoples living today on our planet?
Those questions are the basis for a new series of videos, dubbed Human Prehistory 101. Using the same creative team as with Genetics 101 (led by chief illustrator Ariana Killoran), we developed a series of videos that tell the human story, from the birth of our species to present day. The first installment, the Prologue, was released last week on 23andMe’s website.
The Prologue sets the stage for the human story, beginning with our closest living relatives, the chimpanzee. We then see how the earliest humans lived in Africa nearly 200,000 years ago, and follow some of our fossil ancestors such as Homo erectus — who ventured into Asia long before we did. We also learn that our evolutionary cousins, the Neanderthals, were not so very different from early humans; they cared for their sick and even buried their dead.
This installment will soon be followed by others, each tackling a key chapter in the evolution of our species. Future videos will explain how and when humans ventured out of Africa for the first time, how they survived the Last Ice Age, and how they came to populate so many parts of the world. So be sure to stay tuned for more Human Prehistory 101!