The study of human evolution is advancing rapidly. Newly discovered fossil evidence is adding ever more pieces to the puzzle of our past, whilst revolutionary technological advances in the study of ancient DNA are completely reshaping theories of early human populations and migrations.
In this Very Short Introduction Bernard Wood traces the history of palaeoanthropology from its beginnings in the eighteenth century to the very latest fossil finds. In this new edition he discusses how ancient DNA studies have revolutionized how we view the recent (post-550 ka) human evolution, and the process of speciation. The combination of ancient and modern human DNA has contributed to discoveries of new taxa, as well as the suggestion of 'ghost' taxa whose fossil records still remain to be discovered. Considering the contributions of related sciences such as palaeoclimatology, geochronology, systematics, genetics, and developmental biology, Wood explores our latest understandings of our own evolution.
2: Finding our place
3: Fossil hominins: their discovery and context
4: Fossil hominins: analysis and interpretation
5: Early hominins: possible and probable
6: Archaic and transitional hominins
7: Pre-modern Homo
8: Modern Homo
Timeline of thought and science relevant to human origins and evolution
Bernard Wood is University Professor of Human Origins at George Washington University. He has been involved in human evolution-related research for more than thirty years, and is the author or co-author of 19 books, ranging from a 1991 major monograph on the hominid cranial remains from Koobi Fora, Kenya, to Human Evolution (Brief Insights) (Sterling Books, 2011), and more than 220 refereed scientific articles and book chapters. His research interests include taxonomy, phylogeny reconstruction, and comparative morphology.