Synopses & Reviews
How can we know about the lives of our ancestors who lived 30,000, or 300,000, or 3 million years ago? In The Extraordinary Story of Human Origins, Piero and Alberto Angela address the many difficulties and challenges that scientists face in assembling the record of human evolution.
To piece together the intriguing puzzle of human origins it is necessary to study all clues that are made available by multidisciplinary research, including paleontology, biochemistry, geology, genetics, physics, and climatology. Like so many Sherlock Holmeses, researchers seek all possible clues and analyze them meticuously in hopes of being able to reconstruct the past. These pieces are few and fragmentary, ranging from the footprints left in volcanic ash 3.7 million years ago by hominids who walked exactly as we do, to a "Y" pattern on molars and mitchondrial DNA. But they all provide information on the diet, diseases, hunting techniques, and art of Australopithecus, Homo habilis, Homo erectus, the Neanderthal, and the first Homo sapiens sapiens.
Written in an accessible but authoritative style, this study includes many lively reconstructions of the everyday life of our earliest ancestors based on the most reliable data. The Extraordinary Story of Human Origins makes available to a wide audience a unique look inside the exciting world of research into the the beginnings of human life on earth.
Written in the form of an explorer's log, The Extraordinary Story of Life on Earth condenses four billion years into a single year, making it easier to assess the relative distances between major events and the duration of each evolutionary era: January 1st marks the date on which life first appeared on Earth; more complex cells with a nucleus emerge in the second half of August; dinosaurs appear in early December; and Homo sapiens debut in the last minutes of the last day of the year! Based on the work or researchers in the fields of biochemistry, paleontology, astrophysics, cell biology, zoology, and genetics, this extraordinary story is grounded on the many fossil remains which provide firsthand evidence of the creatures that roamed the earth during prehistoric times.
Written in log book format, The Extraordinary Story of Life on Earth condenses four billion years of the earth's history into a single calendar year. January 1st, then, marks the date for the beginning of life on Earth; however, until the middle of August the only living forms are unicellular organisms similar to present-day bacteria. Life begins to emerge from the oceans only at the end of November. Dinosaurs appear in early December. Homo sapiens sapiens does not come along until the last minutes of December 31st, and writing is developed only in the final seconds. The reconstruction of this story is based on the work of researchers in the field of biochemistry, paleontology, astrophysics, cell biology, zoology, and genetics. It is based also on the many fossil remains of creatures that lived during prehistoric times, as well as on observation of life forms on Earth today that have remained similar to their ancient ancestors. The emergence of life on Earth is not a simple story, and cannot always be simply told. But the authors' easy-to-follow narrative style, combined with an abundance of illustrations, brings this extraordinary story into perspective for us all.