Missing Links

Missing Links : In Search of Human Origins

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This is the story of the search for human origins - from the Middle Ages, when questions of the earth's antiquity first began to arise, through to the latest genetic discoveries that show the interrelatedness of all living creatures. Central to the story is the part played by fossils - first, in establishing the age of the Earth; then, following Darwin, in the pursuit of possible 'Missing Links' that would establish whether or not humans and chimpanzees share a common ancestor. John Reader's passion for this quest - palaeoanthropology - began in the 1960s when he reported for Life Magazine on Richard Leakey's first fossil-hunting expedition to the badlands of East Turkana, in Kenya. Drawing on both historic and recent research, he tells the fascinating story of the science as it has developed from the activities of a few dedicated individuals, into the rigorous multidisciplinary work of today. His arresting photographs give a unique insight into the fossils, the discoverers, and the settings. His vivid narrative reveals both the context in which our ancestors evolved, and also the realities confronting the modern scientist.
The story he tells is peopled by eccentrics and enthusiasts, and punctuated by controversy and even fraud. It is a celebration of discoveries - Neanderthal Man in the 1850s, Java Man (1891), Australopithecus (1925), Peking Man (1926), Homo habilis (1964), Lucy (1978), Floresiensis (2004), and Ardipithecus (2009). It is a story of fragmentary shards of evidence, and the competing interpretations built upon them. And it is a tale of scientific breakthroughs - dating technology, genetics, and molecular biology - that have enabled us to set the fossil evidence in the context of human evolution. John Reader's first book on this subject (Missing Links: The Hunt for Earliest Man, 1981) was described in Nature as 'the best popular account of palaeoanthropology I have ever read'. His new book covers the thirty years of discovery that have followed.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 350 pages
  • 177.8 x 248.92 x 35.56mm | 1,572g
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 75 colour pictures
  • 0199276854
  • 9780199276851
  • 922,475

Table of contents

Acknowledgements ; Foreword ; List of Illustrations ; 1. Time and Place ; 2. The Meaning of Fossils ; 3. Nothing So Rare ; 4. Neanderthal Man (1857) ; 5. Neanderthals and Modern Humans ; 6. Java Man (1891) ; 7. Piltdown Man (1912) ; 8. Australopithecus Africanus (1925) ; 9. Peking Man (1926) ; 10. Australopithecus substantiated (1936) ; 11. Zinjanthropus boisei (1959) ; 12. Tools ; 13. Homo habilis (1964) ; 14. 1470 (1972) and Oldest Man ; 15. Australopithecus afarensis (1978) ; 16. Footprints ; 17. Ardipithecus ramidus (1994/2009) ; NOTES ; BIBLIOGRAPHY ; INDEX
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Review quote

"the best available book on the history of paleoanthropology." --Tim White, The Browser

"The cast of ancient superstars in palaeoanthropologist John Reader's book has grown significantly in the 30 years since the first edition. Neanderthal Man, Lucy and other early hominin fossils are joined by finds from Homo floresiensis to Ardipithecus in a stunningly illustrated update. Powered by enthusiasm and peppered with controversy, the search for human origins is laid out clearly and succinctly." --Nature

"This is the second edition of a classic, almost totally new, updated, with a set of spectacular new illustrations of fossils and field workers and digs -- the whole array enough to make you wish you had spent your life as a physical anthropologist -- truly one of the most exciting intellectual adventures imaginable...The book is immensely readable, a fabulous journey for any reader...Get hold of this book and read it." --Dan Agin, Huffington Post

"This is a revised, updated version of one of the most popular general surveys of human evolution by a science writer whose photographs of fossils, sites, and scientists have become iconic in the field...Highly recommended." --Choice
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About John Reader

John Reader is a writer and photographer with more than fifty years of professional experience. His work has included contributions to major international publications, television documentaries and a number of books. He lived for many years in Africa, where an empathy for human ecology and the natural world inspired extensive coverage of anthropological subjects and environmental issues. This work generated a reputation for original research and well-respected publications, leading to an appointment as Research Fellow in the Department of Anthropology at University College, London.
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Rating details

62 ratings
4.32 out of 5 stars
5 45% (28)
4 44% (27)
3 10% (6)
2 2% (1)
1 0% (0)
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