By Chris Stringer, Peter Andrews
Thames & Hudson, $26.95, 240 pages
Despite its soon-to-be misleading title offering a “complete” world of human evolution, as the science of paleoanthropology is constantly under revision, this book does contain a thorough and up to date account of what we know about human origins. In this second edition, human evolution is discussed in three parts. In the first section, “In Search of Our Ancestors,” the authors describe how their science is conducted and the context in which fossils are found, both in the current world and in the geologic past. The second section, “The Fossil Evidence,” covers the many fossils that have been found, both primate and human ancestors, and describes the theories of how they are related to each other and living species of primates, modern humans included. In the last section, “Interpreting the Evidence,” the authors describe what can be learned from studying the fossils, including locomotion, feeding, migration, behavior, tool use, and art. The authors also share that while much has been learned in the 150 years since the first discoveries of fossils humans, there are many puzzles to be solved in paleoanthropology. The Complete World of Human Evolution is a handsome, detailed, and comprehensive reference for the study of human origins.
Reviewed by Michael Barton
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