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Taking us back roughly 45 million years into the Eocene, "the dawn of recent life," Chris Beard, a world-renowned expert on the primate fossil record, offers a tantalizing new perspective on our deepest evolutionary roots. In a fast-paced narrative full of vivid stories from the field, he reconstructs our extended family tree, showing that the first anthropoids - the diverse and successful group that includes monkeys, apes, and humans - evolved millions of years earlier than was previously suspected and emerged in Asia rather than Africa.
In The Hunt for the Dawn Monkey, Beard chronicles the saga of two centuries of scientific exploration in search of anthropoid origins, from the early work of Georges Cuvier, the father of paleontology, to the latest discoveries in Asia, Africa, and North America's Rocky Mountains. Against this historical backdrop, he weaves the story of how his own expeditions have unearthed crucial fossils--including the controversial primate Eosimias--that support his compelling new vision of anthropoid evolution. The only book written for a wide audience that explores this remote phase of our own evolutionary history, The Hunt for the Dawn Monkey adds a fascinating new chapter to our understanding of humanity's relationship to the rest of life on earth.
"This could be the ultimate book on our origins. For the first time, Chris Beard sheds light on a hitherto little-known yet highly controversial area of paleontology - the search for the ancestry of monkeys, apes and, ultimately, humans." Henry Gee, author of In Search of Deep Time
"The search for our origins does not stop with the first member of our own species, or even the first ape that stood upright. Our earliest primate ancestors also bequeathed us many of our most important features. Chris Beard offers a fascinating, personal survey of what we know about these delicate creatures, who ultimately gave rise to ourselves." Carl Zimmer, author of Soul Made Flesh and Evolution