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Extinct humans
Tattersall, Ian.
Adult Nonfiction GN281.4 .T39 2000

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From Publishers' Weekly:

Stone tools and fossilized jawbones meet complex, reticulated theories from the history of anthropology and evolution in this attractively produced introduction to the vexed world of early hominids. Tattersall and Schwartz (who took many of the book's b&w photos) describe their popularly intended work as the by-product of a continuing paleontological goal: the authors want to describe "the huge variety of human fossils according to a single consistent protocol." The first chapter covers the history of speculation about human origins, from Aristotle's to Goethe's concepts to discovery of the 1856 Feldhofer Grotto Neanderthal fossil, to today's debates about the branching trees of Homo and Australopithecus. Then we're off to the fossils themselves and to the vigorous debates about themÄdebates until recently carried on with too little data and too little reference to norms of nonanthropoid paleontology. Was Robert Broom's Kromdraai hominid (1938) a new genus of proto-humans, Paranthropus? His reasons for saying so wouldn't have held water had he been classifying, say, sea urchins. Skull contours, pelvis shapes, tooth types, climate change and fossil footprints enter into the debates Tattersall (The Fossil Trail; The Last Neanderthal) and Schwartz (Skeleton Keys; Sudden Origins) record. Previous paleoanthropologists, the authors explain, tried too hard to imagine a single line culminating in Homo sapiens. Hominid history ought to look less like a queue than like a treeÄlater chapters explore that tree and its fruits. The authors clearly describe recent discoveries in China; map hypothesized early-human migrations; cover the decline of the Neanderthals; and consider Western Europe's trove of cave paintings and bone flutesÄevidence of practices that characterize, not Neanderthals, but just us. (July) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

From Library Journal:

Tattersall (Becoming Human) and Schwartz (Sudden Origins) have written a clear and detailed overview of fossil hominid evidence and its various interpretations. One consequence of the Great Chain of Being mindset (intensified by the Mayr/Dobzhansky/Simpson new-Darwinian synthesis in terms of mutations and natural selection within dynamic populations) has been the application of a straight-line model to our evolving ancestors over the last few million years. Rejecting this single-linear-sequence hypothesis of hominid evolution, theses two scientists emphasize the very complex species diversity throughout the history of our now-vanished remote ancestors. They focused on the major discoveries and new dates in paleoanthropology, especially fossil evidence representing different African australopiths. Other chapters analyze the morphologies of Homo habilis, Homo erectus, and especially, the Neanderthals and discuss individual variations, interspecies competition, and species extinction. The authors succeed in making their topics both interesting and relevant. With its outstanding illustrations and levelheaded treatment of empirical data, this impressive and indispensable book is a very contribution to modern paleoanthropology. Highly recommended for all science collections. -- H. James Birx, Canisius Coll., Buffalo. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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