Books  Evolutionary Biology  Human Evolution & Anthropology 

Origins: The Search for Our Prehistoric Past

By: Frank HT Rhodes(Author)

326 pages, 72 b/w illustrations, 1 b/w map, 4 tables

Comstock Publishing Associates

Hardback | Dec 2016 | #230664 | ISBN-13: 9781501702440
Availability: Usually dispatched within 6 days Details
NHBS Price: £19.95 $26/€22 approx

About this book

"Fossils are the fragments from which, piece by laborious piece, the great mosaic of the history of life has been constructed. Here and there, we can supplement these meager scraps by the use of biochemical markers or geochemical signatures that add useful information, but, even with such additional help, our reconstructions and our models of descent are often tentative. For the fossil record is, as we have seen, as biased as it is incomplete. But fragmentary, selective, and biased though it is, the fossil record, with all its imperfections, is still a treasure. Though whole chapters are missing, many pages lost, and the earliest pages so damaged as to be, as yet, virtually unreadable, this – the greatest biography of all – is one in whose closing pages we find ourselves."
– from Origins

In Origins, Frank H. T. Rhodes explores the origin and evolution of living things, the changing environments in which they have developed, and the challenges we now face on an increasingly crowded and polluted planet. Rhodes argues that the future well-being of our burgeoning population depends in no small part on our understanding of life's past, its long and slow development, and its intricate interdependencies.

Rhodes's accessible and extensively illustrated treatment of the origins narrative describes the nature of the search for prehistoric life, the significance of geologic time, the origin of life, the emergence and spread of flora and fauna, the evolution of primates, and the emergence of modern humans.

"In this compact and elegant volume, Frank H. T. Rhodes does far more than beautifully updating his classic 1962 book The Evolution of Life. He provides a new narrative of the history of life on Earth for a new set of generations. He covers familiar territory with a fresh and lyrical prose that reveals new insights into both species past and present and the people who have studied them. This is a perfect introduction by a virtuoso."
– Warren D. Allmon, Director, Paleontological Research Institution

"In Origins, an overview of the history of life on Earth for the nonspecialist reader, Frank H. T. Rhodes starts with origins and traces a winding path to human evolution. This book is a highly readable treatment of an important and interesting topic."
– Michael Foote, University of Chicago


1. Defrosting the Mammoth  
2. Terrestrial Timepieces  
3. "From So Simple a Beginning"  
4. Classification: The Diversity of Life  
5. Spineless Wonders  
6. Bone, Scales, and Fins: The Early Vertebrates  
7. The Greening of the Land  
8. The Amphibian Foothold  
9. The Reign of the Reptiles  
10. The Air  
11. The Blossoming Earth  
12. The Rise of the Mammals  
13. The Mammalian Explosion  
14. The Leakeys' Legacy  
15. “Endless Forms, Most Beautiful and Most Wonderful”  
16. On Extinction  
17. “Have Been and Are Being Evolved”: The Development of Life  

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