A concise, illustrated update on our earliest ancestors, the first sapiens – and on how (and when) we distinguished ourselves Prehistory is changing quickly: Thanks to progress in genetics and dating methods, we now know more than ever about our ancient relatives. A Pocket History of Human Evolution will bring us up to date on the exploits of Homo erectus and ergaster, the Neanderthals, Denisovans, and others. (Hint: There was a lot more crossbreeding than previously supposed.) These latest discoveries have only spurred more questions. Lauded palaeoanthropologist Silvana Condemi and science journalist François Savatier consider: What accelerated Homo sapiens evolution – and left us the sole surviving species among many ancient bipedal "humans"? Was it tools, our "large" brain, language, or empathy? Their conclusions are likely to startle (and inspire a new appreciation for the human foot). Condemi and Savatier also look to the future of our strange species – migratory, social animals with a rapidly expanding population, who have transformed our world forever. By taking stock of our ancestors, we can better understand ourselves.
Silvana Condemi, a palaeoanthropologist, is the research director of the National Center for Scientific Research, the largest public scientific research organization in France, at Aix-Marseille University. François Savatier is a journalist for the magazine Pour la Science (the French edition of Scientific American), where he focuses on the science of the past. Their previous book is the award-winning Neanderthal, My Brother.
"In the style of Neil deGrasse Tyson's Astrophysics for People in a Hurry (2017), this slim volume is full of scientific wonders [...] Readers will find themselves marveling at the incredible journey we have taken to become the preeminent life-form on our planet."
"Keeping up with the flood of new information about our human origins is hard enough. So it is a minor miracle that Silvana Condemi and François Savatier have been able to summarize it all so elegantly and authoritatively in this short but highly readable book."
– Ian Tattersall, coauthor of The Accidental Homo sapiens
"This book will capture the attention of all readers interested in learning more about the deep history of our species. It is up-to-date and accurate – and well-written for the layperson – by a research-active scholar and a science journalist."
– Eric Delson, professor of anthropology at Lehman College and the Graduate Center, City University of New York; and director of the New York Consortium in Evolutionary Primatology