The Earth is approximately 4.5 billion years old. The first human ancestors appeared between five million and seven million years ago and Neanderthals emerged 250,000 years ago (1). The Upper Palaeolithic (Late Stone Age) dates between about 40,000 to 10,000 years ago and during this time (about 35,000 years ago) modern Homo sapiens (Cro-Magnon man) replaced the Neanderthals. (2)
Cro-Magnon people left no evidence of written language – but they did have a spoken language to communicate as evidenced by long distance trade, and ritual burial ceremonies.
By studying the skeletons of the Cro-Magnon people, notably the physical features associated with spoken language, such as the vocal tract, the structure of the brain and the size of the spinal cord we see they are identical to humans living today. This means that Cro-Magnon people would have been capable of producing the same sounds we use in speech. (3)
They also learned to hunt as a team. The mammoths referenced in the images provided the hunter/gatherers with meat, skins, and building materials for their huts.(4)
The Spaceship Earth time machine moves into this time where we see the Cro-Magnon people in a battle against a Mammoth beast. The images have been updated in the most recent version to a CGI scene depicting a team fighting a Mammoth in winter weather with blustering winds. The previous version had images of our ancient ancestors and a Wooly Mammoth appearing and disappearing in a purple haze similar to the nebula we saw earlier.
February 15, 2008 – current
Narrated by Judy Dench
Here in this hostile world is where our story begins. We are alone, struggling to survive until we learn to communicate with one another. Now we can hunt as a team and survive together.
November 23, 1994 to July 9, 2007
Narrated by Jeremy Irons
Across a lonely, hostile planet, our early ancestors spread out in search of food and shelter.
May 26, 1986 to August 15, 1994
Narrated by Walter Cronkite
We have reached the dawn of recorded time, an age when mammoth creatures roam the land. But with spoken language, the ancient hunters learn to work together and meet the challenges of this hostile world.
October 1, 1982 – May 25, 1986
Narrated by Larry Dobkin
Now, suns reverse, moons re-phase, let us return to ancient caves where first we learn to share our thoughts and to survive. Where are we now? It is the waiting dawn where vast things stir and breathe. And with our first words and first steps, we draw together to conquer the mammoth beast. It is the dawn of a new beginning, the dawn of recorded time.
July 22, 1977 – Ray Bradbury script
Now we, ape creature becoming man, learned new ways to fight the ancient beast and met the challenge — to survive! We picked its bones, and cooked its meat to make us strong and changed midnight, with fire, to Noon and lived another day.
And now that the stage is set – we move on to our first act in the epoch of communication – the recording of information.