Fossil Men: The Quest for the Oldest Skeleton and the Origins of Humankind

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In 1994 a research team headed by University of California, Berkeley Professor Tim White discovered ancient fossilized bones in the Afar region of Ethiopia that were believed to be our oldest ancestor. Ardipithecus ramidus, who came to be known as Ardi, was a female who lived 4.4 million years ago. What made the find so impressive was the fact that Ardi was one million years older than the now-famous Australopithecus afarensis known as Lucy, who was discovered in 1974.

Not everyone agreed with the team’s findings at first. And Pattison’s brilliant account highlights the numerous conflicts resulting from jealousy, personal animosities, scientists with huge egos, changes in the institutional and academic environments, and resentments caused by the fact that outsiders were often not allowed to see the fossils in question. All of this was compounded by the team’s challenges working in a politically volatile region, beset with civil war, tribal war, and bureaucratic difficulties.

If you have ever been interested in the origins of humankind, Fossil Men is a must-read. It’s a brilliant multi-layered account that showcases the history, politics, and the people who make it their business to search for our elusive ancestors. It is by far the most informative and insightful book I’ve read this year.


Reviewed By:

Author Kermit Pattison
Star Count 5/5
Format Hard
Page Count 534 pages
Publisher William Morrow
Publish Date 2020-Nov-10
ISBN 9780062410283
Bookshop.org Buy this Book
Issue February 2021
Category Science & Nature
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