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The Family That Walks On All Fours

BBC TWO reveals The Family That Walks On All Fours



Millions of years ago, our distant ancestors stood up and never walked on all fours again. For many, it is the moment we made the leap from ape to man. But, last year scientists discovered a family that never made this leap and is alive today.

 

With exclusive access to the family, BBC TWO tells their extraordinary story and examines the controversy their discovery has caused in the scientific community.

 

One of the scientists leading the research into the family is evolutionary psychologist, Professor Nicholas Humphrey.

 

He says: "This could be hugely important - a living example of how our ancestors walked before they became bipedal. As such it might teach us so much about our distant past."

 

The documentary features interviews with scientists from across the world and their response has been mixed - the only thing they do agree on is that this is not a hoax.

 

American paleanthropologists think the family's skeletons could hold vital clues about the origin of man.

 

A Turkish neurophysiologist believes they are wholesale genetic throwbacks - a living 'missing link'.

 

Whilst German geneticists believe that they hold the key to a breakthrough gene for bipedality.

 

UK researchers, however, contend that no single faulty gene could produce the first human quadrupeds the modern world has ever seen.

 

Producer Jemima Harrison, of Passionate Productions, says: "The family raises profound questions about what it is to be human. They walk like animals and that's very disturbing at first.

 

"But we were also very moved by this family's tremendous warmth and humanity."

 

The family is very poor, has had little medical help and lives in a small village in Turkey.

 

The parents, who are closely related, have had 19 children.

 

Most were normal, but six were born with what looks like brain damage. Five of these, aged between 18 and 34, walk quadrupedally.

 

The family are treated as outcasts by many of the villagers.

 

The programme is an intimate portrait of their everyday life. It asks what should be done to help the family and whether it is possible for the quadrupeds to learn to walk.

 

BBC TWO's The Family That Walks On All Fours is on Friday 17 March at 9.00pm.

 

NR


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Category: Factual & Arts TV; BBC TWO
Date: 07.03.2006
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