Missing Links: In Search of Human Origins
This is the story of the search for human origins - from the Middle Ages, when questions of the earth's antiquity first began to arise, through to the latest genetic discoveries that show the interrelatedness of all living creatures. Central to the story is the part played by fossils - first, in establishing the age of the Earth; then, following Darwin, in the pursuit of possible 'Missing Links' that would establish whether or not humans and chimpanzees share a common ancestor.
Drawing on both historic and recent research, John Reader tells the fascinating story of the science of palaeoanthropology as it has developed from the activities of a few dedicated individuals, into the rigorous multidisciplinary work of today. His photos give a unique insight into the fossils, the discoverers, and the settings. His narrative reveals both the context in which our ancestors evolved, and also the realities confronting the modern scientist. The story he tells is peopled by eccentrics and enthusiasts, and punctuated by controversy and even fraud. It is a celebration of discoveries, and a story of fragmentary shards of evidence, and the competing interpretations built upon them. And it is a tale of scientific breakthroughs - dating technology, genetics, and molecular biology - that have enabled us to set the fossil evidence in the context of human evolution.
This second edition covers the thirty years of discovery that have followed since publication of the first edition, and contains about 70% new material, 5 new chapters, and 20 new photographs.
Professor Andrew Hill (Yale): Foreword
List of Illustrations
1: Time and Place
2: The Meaning of Fossils
3: Nothing So Rare
4: Neanderthal Man (1857)
5: Neanderthals and Modern Humans
6: Java Man (1891)
7: Piltdown Man (1912)
8: Australopithecus Africanus (1925)
9: Peking Man (1926)
10: Australopithecus substantiated (1936)
11: Zinjanthropus boisei (1959)
13: Homo habilis (1964)
14: 1470 (1972) and Oldest Man
15: Australopithecus afarensis (1978)
17: Ardipithecus ramidus (1994/2009)
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