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Lucy's Legacy: The Quest for Human Originsby Dr. Donald Johanson
Synopses & Reviews
“Lucy is a 3.2-million-year-old skeleton who has become the spokeswoman for human evolution. She is perhaps the best known and most studied fossil hominid of the twentieth century, the benchmark by which other discoveries of human ancestors are judged.”–From Lucy’s Legacy
In his New York Times bestseller, Lucy: The Beginnings of Humankind, renowned paleoanthropologist Donald Johanson told the incredible story of his discovery of a partial female skeleton that revolutionized the study of human origins. Lucy literally changed our understanding of our world and who we come from. Since that dramatic find in 1974, there has been heated debate and–most important–more groundbreaking discoveries that have further transformed our understanding of when and how humans evolved.
In Lucy’s Legacy, Johanson takes readers on a fascinating tour of the last three decades of study–the most exciting period of paleoanthropologic investigation thus far. In that time, Johanson and his colleagues have uncovered a total of 363 specimens of Australopithecus afarensis (Lucy’s species, a transitional creature between apes and humans), spanning 400,000 years. As a result, we now have a unique fossil record of one branch of our family tree–that family being humanity–a tree that is believed to date back a staggering 7 million years.
Focusing on dramatic new fossil finds and breakthrough advances in DNA research, Johanson provides the latest answers that post-Lucy paleoanthropologists are finding to questions such as: How did Homo sapiens evolve? When and where did our species originate? What separates hominids from the apes? What was the nature of Neandertal and modern human encounters? What mysteries about human evolution remain to be solved?
Donald Johanson is a passionate guide on an extraordinary journey from the ancient landscape of Hadar, Ethiopia–where Lucy was unearthed and where many other exciting fossil discoveries have since been made–to a seaside cave in South Africa that once sheltered early members of our own species, and many other significant sites. Thirty-five years after Lucy, Johanson continues to enthusiastically probe the origins of our species and what it means to be human.
Reconsiders the questions of evolution made in the wake of the stunning discovery of a 3.2 million year-old female skeleton known as Lucy, a new and transitional species placed somewhere between apes and humans that would forever change the way scientists think about human origins.
In this sequel to the bestseller Lucy: the beginnings of humankind, celebrated paleoanthropologist Johanson and science journailst Wong explore the extraordinary discoveries since Lucy was unearthed more than three decades ago.
About the Author
Pioneering paleoanthropologist and winner of the American Book Award, DONALD C. JOHANSON founded the Institute of Human Origins in 1981, now located at Arizona State University in Tempe.
KATE WONG has been covering human evolution for Scientific American for more than a decade.
Table of Contents
The woman who shook up man's family tree — Unfinished business — Rocky beginnings — Pay dirt — Several successful field seasons — Getting to know Lucy better — Lucy's world — Growing up Australopithecine — The dawn of humankind — The first Australopithecines — Ecce homo — Leaving the motherland — The hobbits of Flores — The Neandertals — The rise of Homo sapiens — Epilogue: Unsolved mysteries.
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