Top positive review
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A rare treat
on 30 January 2009
It is not often that you find a book that combines abundant illustrations with a highly informative and comprehensive text coverage of the subject.
This book by Mr. Stringer & Mr. Andrews is one of those rare treats. Each page is visually a work of art, balanced and ever varying. The illustrations, drawings or photos, are consistently of very high quality and all of them provide information to supplement the text.
The text itself is rich, the reader really finds a tremendous amount of facts regarding our nearest and more distant ancestors - and their relatives.
Starting with the common ancestors of monkeys and apes, the book gradually works its way forward in time. Obviously, our past was not just a straight line of one species taking over from another, there were many species, some co-existing during the same epoch, and it is very difficult exactly to pinpoint which ones lead to the modern apes, including ourselves.
Along the way the book sheds ample light on the difficulties in this branch of palaeontology. The tree-living monkeys and apes are not prone to leave many fossils behind, and many species are only known from puny fragments, photographs of which are shown in the book. When you see the reconstruction drawings of an extinct species you often do not realise on how little evidence it is founded, but this is a fact that the book repeatedly drives home.
The book also covers a number of related topics; the early history of tool making and evolution of behaviour, just to mention some examples.
This book is a must for anyone seriously interested in our species' past.