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From Lucy To Language by Donald Johanson
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From Lucy To Language

by Donald Johanson, Edgar Blake

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I really adored this. A coffeetable book on paleoanthropology? It's like a dream come true. And it is gorgeous. David Brill's photographs of the skulls and other fossils have an almost 3-D feel, showing the diverse textures, colors, and patina of each specimen. Some books on early hominids have beautifully constructed artist's renditions of what these individuals might have looked like, this one leaves it to the reader's imagination.

The text is by Donald Johanson, the paleoanthropologist who discovered the famous "Lucy" skeleton. He gets pretty darn technical in his descriptions of the fossils, delving into the minutiae of teeth, mandibles, fragments of thigh bone and so on... but it's an effective reminder that the science of paleoanthropology requires a great deal of time-consuming, meticulous sleuth-work. I found it fascinating, but I understand that others might find it a bit of a trudge.

Final verdict: Beautiful to look at, extremely detailed. If you're looking for a more accessible or quick-reading summary of early humans and their kin, try The Smithsonian Intimate Guide to Human Origins ( )
  saturnloft | May 25, 2013 |
A book by the man who made one of the most lauded discoveries of the 20th century, the early hominid fossil affectionately nicknamed Lucy. Lucy helped to expand our understanding of human evolution, and in this volume, the author details what we know of human evolution up to that date. Of course, we've learned still more since 2001, but this book is a good read, and gives a great deal of valuable historical and scientific information about the species we are the most interested in - ourselves. ( )
1 vote Devil_llama | Apr 11, 2011 |
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Donald Johansonprimary authorall editionscalculated
Blake, Edgarmain authorall editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0684810239, Hardcover)

In recent decades new fossil discoveries have redefined perceptions of human evolution at a remarkable pace, making it nearly impossible for the general reader to find an up-to-date account of the subject. This large-format book by science writer Edgar and paleoanthropologist Johanson--discoverer of the famous partial skeleton of "Lucy," a female hominid who lived 3.2 million years ago--gives as complete a picture as is presently known. Much mystery remains, but the earlier view of human evolution as a linear progression from apes through the hominids to the various homo species has been replaced by a more treelike analogue, one with many branches of upright-walking hominids. Truly a photo album of hominid history, the volume includes more than 200 color pictures of the major fossil discoveries, each with explanatory text.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:18:06 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

In 1974 in a remote region of Ethiopia, Donald Johanson, then one of America's most promising young paleoanthropologists, discovered "Lucy", the oldest, best preserved skeleton of any erect-walking human ever found. This discovery prompted a complete reevaluation of previous evidence for human origins.From Lucy to Language is an encounter with the evidence. Early human fossils are hunted, discovered, identified, excavated, collected, preserved, labeled, cleaned, reconstructed, drawn, fondled, photographed, cast, compared, measured, revered, pondered, published, and argued over endlessly. Fossils like Lucy have become a talisman of sorts, promising to reveal the deepest secrets of our existence. In Part II the authors profile over fifty of the most significant early human fossils ever found. Each specimen is displayed in color and at actual size, most of them in multiple views. With them the authors present the cultural accoutrements associated with the fossils: stone tools which evidence increasing sophistication over time, the earliest stone, clay, and ivory art objects, and the culminating achievement of the dawn of human consciousness - the magnificent rock and cave paintings of Europe, Africa, Australia, and the Americas.… (more)

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