UNIVERSITY of Exeter scientist Professor Chris Turney is the scientific advisor for the major new series which started on Channel 4 last night.

Man on Earth is a four-part series in which Tony Robinson travels back through 200,000 years of human history to find out what happened to our ancestors when violent climate change turned their world upside down – and what they can teach us as we face our own climate crisis today.

While some civilisations flourished, others were destroyed. Sudden and dramatic changes to the climate killed millions, but benign change has enabled humans to multiply and develop at an extraordinary pace.

Using CGI effects and stunning imagery, the series illustrates how climate has shaped human history from the beginning.

Professor Chris Turney appears in two of the programmes, including the first show. His expert advice helped ensure the series presents the most up-to-date scientific and archaeological information.

Professor Turney said: “It was an amazing experience to work with Tony Robinson on the team on this series.

“Television programmes like this are a great way of bringing the kind of research that we do at Exeter to a mass audience.

“With the Copenhagen Climate Summit this week I think people will be fascinated to see how people have coped – and sometimes failed to deal – with climate change in the past.”

Professor Turney joined the University of Exeter in 2007 from the University of Wollongong, Australia.

He researches and teaches geology and is particularly interested in what the past can tell us about the future.

Chris carried out the radiocarbon dating on the ‘Hobbit’ fossil of Flores, Indonesia that hit the world’s headlines in 2004.

He has published numerous scientific papers and magazine articles and given frequent media interviews.

In 2007 he was awarded the Sir Nicholas Shackleton Medal for outstanding young Quaternary Scientist for his pioneering research into past climate change and dating the past.

This year he was awarded the prestigious Geological Society Bigsby Medal for his contributions to geology.

Professor Turney is part of a team of University of Exeter academics focused on climate change research.

Over the next three years the University is investing £80 million in key areas of science research, including Climate Change and Sustainable Futures.