Remote village where people walk on all fours | 60 Minutes Australia

You’re about to see something truly astounding a discovery that’s caused an absolute sensation one that could have untold significance for every one of us and not only that it’s a totally engrossing mystery story – You’re about to meet a family that shouldn’t exist a family like no other They could just be the missing link between man and ape the holy grail. Scientists have sought for generations their living breathing men and women But they walk on all fours just as we did four million years ago and until this film was shot They were hidden away unseen by the outside world Remote village in Turkey here hidden from the world lives an Extraordinary family a family whose very existence could rewrite the evolution textbooks It was really fascinated, you know, here are humans doing things that they’re not meant to be doing For the past year, their existence has been known to just a handful of experts who have been sworn to secrecy When I heard of it myself I was intrigued but nothing prepared me for the reality Now finally the secret can be revealed Immediate response I had was of itis I couldn’t believe my eyes. I never expected that Even under the most extraordinary scientific fantasy that modern human beings could return to an animal state In scientific terms, it was the equivalent of finding living breathing fossils Human beings who had never made the evolutionary leap of standing upright The quest to find out why took a team of scientists on an amazing journey and raised profound Questions about what it is to be human thing which marks us off from the rest of the animal world is the fact that we’re the species which walks on two legs and Holds our heads high in the air It’s what defines us as in many ways yes, of course its language and all sorts of other things too, but It’s terribly important to our sense of ourselves as being different from from others in the animal kingdom These people cross that boundary professor Nick Humphrey is an evolutionary psychologist He first heard of the family through a medical paper produced by Turkish scientists It looks as if we really did have something rather like a throwback an evolution of turning back the evolutionary clock and the Turkish professor who invited us say That’s the way he thought about it. In fact others in the scientific community took up that line and said yes sir for the world is a is a Genetic problem which has undone of the last three million years of evolution returned them to a primitive stage it sounded like the anthropological find of the millennium A once-in-a-lifetime discovery that scientists dream of if the family proved to be true quadrupeds walking on all fours They may provide the elusive missing link between man and 8th Humphrey set out for Turkey with a scientific team to record his findings This is a very exciting moment for our son We don’t know quite what we’re going to expect from little well really see quadrupedal humans. I don’t know It’s never been reported in scientific literature Rajat Oules and his wife have an astounding 18 children 12 were born healthy But six had a unique disability This is Gulen. He staggers as if he’s drunk But he’s not there’s something wrong with his balance, but he’s still on two feet not four Then one by one the other children appear There are four girls and one young man Hussein has walked like this for 28 years Very revealing for anthropologists people who study early human evolution Because what these two have done is to reinvent or rediscover a form of locomotion Which very likely does correspond predicted closely to way our ancestors worked The affected children are aged between 18 and 34 They all still live at home cared for by their brothers and sisters and their parents now in their 60s So far as we knew no other case like the one in front of our eyes have ever been described before there were no reports in the scientific literature of adult human beings walking on all fours and So we you know, we noticed we had a major phenomena in front of us to explain from a scientific point of view but also of course a major tragic human story Fossils tell us we probably first became bipeds around 4 million years ago Since then we have become beautifully adapted for moving on two feet So why for the first time in eons are human beings again walking on four There was a certain amount of speed This this guy Hussein can can out run me. Yes Hussein can travel for kilometres like this The skin on the heels of his hands is as thickened as it is on his feet It’s an action like that. Is it? No, they don’t push on them at all. They did They actually just do left on the heel on the very soft flat surface, you know They will put their fingers down but on a rough surface, they don’t let their fingers touch the ground The Turkish scientists who first discovered them believe the children had devolved But professor Humphrey suspects the problem is more likely genetic The parents are second cousins and could have passed a faulty gene onto some but not all of their children It’s a bad luck that the children have inherited from both parts percent recessive genetic mutation Basic neurological tests confirm there is something wrong with their brains But that still doesn’t explain why they walk like animals It’s a scientific puzzle, but for the children themselves, it’s met a life of misery There’s hostility towards the family in the village the local kids taunt Hussein They are being beaten up by the kids of the village and they are not being accepted Into the social circle. They’re outcasts they are, yup, they are The team takes the family to a local private hospital for brain scans The results are examined back Britain by anatomist Roger Keynes This is a sense brain. There is something very striking which hits you immediately you see it It’s very clear that in the middle of the cerebellum here what’s called the vermis? It’s shrunk The brain damage is the same in all the affected children. Do we have Sophia’s brain here too Yeah it’s this one here Same again Very striking But the shrunken cerebellum is not enough to explain why the family can’t walk up right A case reported last year in Italy a young man presented without any cerebellum, but he could still walk it doesn’t in itself account for their walking on four legs because other children who have damaged cerebellum even children who have no Cerebellum can still walk upright. So again the experts turn to genetics in Berlin German scientists think the answer lies in the family’s DNA I think this is very novel because it has never been described before that people are able to walk on their four. So usually I think the opinion was that this is not really possible and Let alone that its genetic Professor Stefan Mondalas believes the Ulas family’s blood may hold one of the greatest secrets of science The gene for walking erect the very essence of what makes us human. It’s the exciting part of it We can by describing this family actually show that humans can walk on their fours and then this can actually be inherited as a Genetic trait and that is very novel and very unusual The Germans have already published claims of a breakthrough Upsetting many in the scientific community. I think it’s an extraordinary speculation. Very unlikely to be true You don’t accept that’s part of the equation No, I mean everything we know about evolution suggests that no single gene will have been responsible So for damage to a single gene can’t throw you back from being bipedal to being Quadrupedal to have to have been other things at work here There’s more descent in New York where fossil experts squabble over the bones of Hussein and his sisters *inaudible arguing* I’m amazed the ease with which some of these individuals are moving particularly the guy is is it seems to be moving quite fluid? Very different – okay To see modern humans with muddy human body form walking around them on all four limbs Using their their upper limbs as a form of support is extremely interesting one of the remarkable things about the way these children walk is that they Keep their fingers off the ground. They walk on their own that on their wrists not knuckle walking like a chimpanzee or gorilla Walking on the wrists in this way So the fingers remain undamaged is of great interest to the evolutionists It may be the way our ancestors learned to move between coming down from the trees and finally standing upright It does a bit more abust Look at the width of this thing In an ideal world on paper, yes, I’d love to see those curtains. It’d be really interesting but you know, that’s just not okay, ethically But at Liverpool University in England another team has found a way to examine the skeletons Ethically and they are different to ours Hussein’s movements are identical to an April monkey ideally suited for balancing on branches These people are not missing links But they have shown us How our ancestors did behave they have rediscovered a way which we would never have even thought about nobody had Suggested that our ancestors are what we’re calling wrist warmers But Professor Humphrey begins to suspect there are more basic reasons why the Ulas children never stood up when they were babies They crawled as usual on hands and knees then at around nine months. They started walking on their feet and hands With no local Health Service. No one was there to encourage the clearly disabled children onto their feet Why that happened? We don’t know why nobody intervened why they didn’t do the simplest things They might have done to help them and to bring them on as would have happened in Melbourne or in London or New York Incredibly no one had even thought to provide them with a $30.00 walking frame Within a few hours, it was an astonishing transformation the children who had never taken a step upright on two legs while using this friend to walk across the room with Such delight in their faces and a sense of achievement and of having suddenly made a breakthrough into the world They never imagined they could ever had Before the scientific team left it arranged for a physiotherapist to examine the children and Installed parallel bars in the yard to encourage them upright Possibility of walking gives new hope to the family The beauty a big thing a huge deal Pooja tells the team if she could walk properly she could go to dances and meet a husband Yeah, she would love to go to her But unfortunately The physiotherapist holds little hope that Hussein will ever walk upright. He thinks it’s too late for him Hussein’s despair and anger are obvious only his friendship with the family dog seems to calm him I come away with a renewed respect For the human spirit for how human beings and most disadvantaged circumstances can nonetheless triumph over their adversity No matter what they have to do to maintain the their pride and their and sense of themselves Scientists still believe the Ulas family has much to tell us about our ancient Ancestors but life for the family must go on and in January this year Professor Humphreys team returned to Turkey to check on them It looks as if in the month or two and we made this very small Intervention – you might think all of the children are not some except walking independently on their back legs Which is both a wonderful thing for them and you know how extraordinary that you can You can parachute into people’s lives and make such a difference to them But there was no sign of Hussein it was thought he was the least likely of the family to make progress but then They had come to document a missing link in our evolutionary chain and found another The moment our ancestors stood up and became a man Hello, I’m Liz Hayes thanks for watching to keep up with the latest from 60 minutes, Australia Make sure you subscribe to our channel You can also download the 9 now app for full episodes and other exclusives 60 minutes content

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