Tuesday, 6 February 2018

Our Human Story - Book Review

ISBN 978 0 565 09391 4 Cover Price £14.99
This short book (160 pages) can be highly recommended to anyone who, like me, often loses the plot when reading papers on human evolution. It covers all phases in hominin evolution during the past 7 million years. The most important fossils are named (and the names explained), illustrated, and placed in geographical context by some excellent maps.

There is a good index so next time you are unsure what is referred to by KNM-ER 1470 you can quickly look it up!

I had anticipated that the book might lack the very latest info such as the redating of the early humans from Jebel Irhoud or the early dispersals to Arabia and India. But Louise Humphrey and Chris Springer have it all. Only the 120,000 year-old human fossil from Misliya, Israel (here) was published too late to make it into their book.

Chris Stringer is a strong proponent of the Out of Africa hypothesis that has all modern populations deriving from a single dispersal 45-55,000 years ago. But in this book alternative scenarios are given a fair treatment.

Near the end there is a neat diagram summarizing human evolution during the last million years.

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