Note: This post is part of our series, "Netflix Academy: The best educational videos available for streaming." Be sure to check out our previous Netflix Academy posts on Ancient Asian Cultures; the early American civilizations; Ancient Greece; Ancient RomeNative American culturesChristopher Columbus and the Age of DiscoveryColonial America and the Revolutionary Warthe American founders;  movie adaptations of classic children’s booksAmerican folk heroesdinosaursaquatic lifeinsectsfrogs and other amphibiansreptilesbirds; and mammals.

We’ve made it this far into our Netflix Academy series without much controversy, save for a few folks on Twitter who had some choice words for Christopher Columbus. Something tells me that the topic of “human evolution” will put that lucky streak to an end. Nonetheless, it’s a crucial part of any curriculum, as it’s a cornerstone of modern biology. Plus, in my humble opinion, it’s totally fascinating. I’m particularly enamored with the BBC’s “Walking with Cavemen” production, which just might be my favorite educational video on Netflix. Creationists will surely disagree. Everyone else: enjoy!

Special thanks to research interns Andrew McDonnell, Elisabeth Hoyson, and Liz McInerney for helping to compile these lists.

Best videos on human evolution

1. Walking with Cavemen

Walking with Cavemen

This documentary series lets viewers follow humankind's family tree to its very beginning and take the first step alongside our earliest ancestors.

Length: Two 49-minute episodes

Rating: TV-PG


2. NOVA: Becoming Human

NOVA: Becoming Human

Where did we come from? What makes us human? An explosion of recent discoveries sheds light on these questions, and NOVA's comprehensive, three-part special, "Becoming Human," examines what the latest scientific research reveals about our hominid relatives—putting together the pieces of our human past and transforming our understanding of our earliest ancestors.

Length: Three 54-minute episodes

Rating: TV-PG

Provider: Amazon Instant

3. Bones of Turkana

Bones of Turkana

Follow famed paleoanthropologist Richard Leakey, his family, and his colleagues as they work in the arid northern regions of Kenya's Turkana Basin to unravel the mysteries of human evolution. While one of the Leakey team's goals is to demonstrate the complexity and truth of human evolution, they also seek to show how the qualities that we proudly call human were all born in Africa.

Length: 56 minutes

Rating: NR

Provider: PBS

4. What Makes Us Human?

What Makes Us Human?

Find out if you’re part Neanderthal, about the evolution of laughter, what language may owe to tool making, and more.

Length: 53 minutes

Rating: TV-PG


5. The Human Family Tree

Human Family Tree

In this National Geographic documentary, scientists uncover fascinating truths about the commonalities of man as human history is charted from its roots in Africa to its evolution over time.

Length: 92 minutes

Rating: TV-PG

Provider: Netflix

6. Where Did We Come From?

Where Did We Come From?

Explore the origin of our solar system and the start of life itself, how head lice figure in human evolution, and more.

Length: 52 minutes

Rating: NR

Provider: PBS

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