- Hardcover: 256 pages
- Publisher: Mitchell Beazley (4 Oct. 2010)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1845334744
- ISBN-13: 978-1845334741
- Product Dimensions: 25.4 x 3.2 x 29.2 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 879,356 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- See Complete Table of Contents
Origins: Human Evolution Revealed Hardcover – 4 Oct 2010
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This book will combine an expert author with the best facial reconstructions by renowned paleo artist John Gurche, a consultant to National Geographic, The Smithsonian and Spielberg's Jurassic Park Our Evolution book takes all life as its subject; with a separate book we can concentrate on the evolution of humans - for many people the stars of the show. The upsurge of creationism in the US - inevitably focusing on trying to prove that humans aren't descended from apes - guarantees this subject will always be newsworthy. Interest in our origins continues to grow - as science progresses we are tracing our origins further and further back. This is the ultimate in tracing your family tree. The subject will be given a boost by the 2009 anniversary of the Darwin's Origin of Species and the BBC's "Year of Science" in 2010
About the Author
Dr Douglas Palmer is a science writer and lecturer. His books include The Neanderthal, which accompanied the acclaimed Channel 4 series, Earth Time, The Atlas of the Prehistoric World and Prehistoric Past Revealed (MB). He is a contributor to a variety of publications including New Scientist, Science and BBC Wildlife Magazine. He is currently working on Evolution for Mitchell Beazley (2009).
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Top Customer Reviews
However, that shouldn't detract from the many merits of the book. I was glad I had read it and will, I am sure, return to it profitably many times in the future. It is rich in detail and a very good learning resource.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
The book is divided into two sections, the first consisting of a series of short (10-15 page) chapters each focusing on a specific early hominid species. Starting with Proconsul africanus (about 18 million years ago) through Australopithecus, Homo habilis, Homo erectus, Homo neanderthalensis, and ultimately Homo sapiens, each chapter describes circumstances surrounding the initial and subsequent finds, the resulting scientific debate and discussion, and our current thinking with respect to where each species fits in the primate evolutionary "bush". Provided are brief sketches of the key scientific figures associated with each species (e.g. - the Leakey's). John Gurche contributed interesting artistic reconstructions of each species' appearance, reflecting current thinking.
The second section focuses on the global migration of Homo sapiens and his predecessors, tracing multiple waves of migration from Africa throughout the world. Separate chapters focus on the dispersion from Africa, and the migrations into Europe, Australasia, and the Americas. There are also chapters on art and tool making. These latter are understandably limited given that they must cover vastly complicated subjects in just a few pages. This section too is well supported with maps and photographs.
I had a few negative impressions: First, the aerial overview maps illustrating key archeological sites were not particularly helpful. Second, as noted above, the sections on art, tool making, and climate change (1 page plus a diagram!) are disappointingly sketchy. Finally, there is no bibliography or suggestions for further reading, something such a lavish overview cries out for. Overall, Origins is a well done introduction to human evolution. Four stars.
One comes away with a sense of close familiarity and connectedness with our distant past and an appreciation for the multifaceted developments which make us so unique in our humanity.
This book was a thoroughly enjoyable and very enlightening read
In part two, Palmer traces our foot steps out of Africa and dispersal into the rest of the world. Many maps and charts are provided. He then explores the origins of art, and the tools that evolved into weapons. There are some fine photographic examples of paleolithic cave art, bead and shell art, tools and musical instruments.
I especially liked the color artistic representations of what these creatures may have looked like in real life. Putting a face on them somehow makes them seem more real than the study alone of fossil bones and skulls of these hominids. Given this, Homo Neanderthalensis men looked more like us than not. It is likely too that (because of the climate ) he had fair skin.
Overall, Palmer has done a masterful job presenting ancient man to us on a lay man's palate. One cannot hope to come away from this tome without a more incitefull view of the origins, evolution and advancing culture of our species. Any student of paleoarchaeology would benefit from having a copy of the book in his library.
It has wonderful artwork by renown paleoartist, John Gurche, and also has tons of information from the vigorous research done by the author, Douglas Palmer, so you will definitely learn a thing or two about where we came from as a species and how we possibly migrated out of the African continent to become one of the most dominant species on the planet. You will become acquainted with the various members of our unique offshoot of the great ape family; from the Neanderthals of ice age Europe and the Middle East, to the diminutive Indonesian Hobbits.
For me, I'm a very visual individual and I love looking at pictures and great artwork (as I'm an illustration student who loves his prehistoric animals),and this book certainly delivers. From pencils sketches to immensely detailed sculptures (like the one on the cover), you will not be disappointed. Crisp and gorgeous pictures are also provided of the, fossils, localities and countries where these creatures were discovered.
The only fault I can find with this book is its size and weight. It's best read sitting down.