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Smithsonian Intimate Guide to Human Origins…

Smithsonian Intimate Guide to Human Origins (2005)

by Carl Zimmer

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Like a series of Discover articles, up-to-date, lots of nice photos, graphs, and charts. A useful primer on the topic. ( )
  nosajeel | Jun 21, 2014 |
This is a very readable and visually appealing introduction to our evolutionary roots. Packed with illustrations, photographs, and discussions of contemporary theories (example: Did humans and neanderthals interbreed?), it reads fairly fast. I found the actual writing to be a bit choppy though, with a few vagaries and some distracting tangents. Still, it's fairly up to date (it even includes Homo Floresiensis - the so-called "hobbits"). As a general overview of a fascinating science, I'd give it a solid recommendation. ( )
  saturnloft | May 25, 2013 |
Like a series of Discover articles, up-to-date, lots of nice photos, graphs, and charts. A useful primer on the topic. ( )
1 vote jasonlf | Apr 6, 2008 |
Human origins is always a frustrating topic. While the broad sweep of our origins are well established, we are missing much of the information necessary to tell a good story about it. Which skulls represent which wayposts in whose lineages? How did the Neanderthals die? Why did modern Homo sapiens finally burst out of Africa and across the world? What is the relationship between sapiens and ergaster? When did language begin? When and how did any of the interesting things about ourselves come to be? We don't know. Many of our ancestors lived in areas where fossilization happens poorly, and the time spans and population sizes were both small enough that there were relatively few individual ancestors to leave behind remains. We know where we came from, but not the interesting details of how.

That said, for those who can stand the frustration in the incompleteness of our knowledge, this is a lovely book. Evolutionary concepts and research methods are well-explained for laypeople; the history is described in concrete, imaginable terms; the fossils are lavishly photographed; maps and timelines abound. In all, the reader comes away with an accurate and evocative summary of what we know, and what we may yet hope to learn.
2 vote sanguinity | Aug 6, 2007 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0060829613, Hardcover)

From the savannas of Africa to modern-day labs for biomechanical analysis and molecular genetics, Smithsonian Intimate Guide to Human Origins reveals how anthropologists are furiously redrawing the human family tree. Their discoveries have spawned a host of new questions: Should chimpanzees be included as a human species? Was it the physical difficulty of human childbirth that encouraged the development of social groups in early human species? Did humans and Neanderthals interbreed? Why did humans supplant Neanderthals in the end? In answering such questions, Smithsonian Intimate Guide to Human Origins sheds new light on one of the most important questions of all: What makes us human?

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:07:38 -0400)

New discoveries in the field of human evolution are changing our understanding of human origins almost daily. What does all this new knowledge about our species mean? Science journalist Zimmer offers an illuminating journey through our ancestry, beginning 65 million years ago with the first primates and ending today, as we enter a new phase of evolution. Along the way he re-examines the major steps in human evolution, as hominids began to stand upright, fashion tools and develop consciousness. What's most intriguing, he concludes, is that fossils are no longer the sole source of information about our origins--part of the story of where we came from turns out to be inscribed in our own DNA!--From publisher description.… (more)

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