Human domination of the earth is now so complete that it is easy to forget how recently our role in the history of the planet began: the earliest apes evolved around twenty million years ago, yet Homo sapiens has existed for a mere 150,000 years. In the intervening period, many species of early ape and human have lived and died out, leaving behind the fossilized remains that have helped to make the detailed picture of our evolution revealed here.
This exciting, up-to-the-minute account is divided into three accessible sections. “In Search of Our Ancestors” examines the contexts in which fossilized remains have been found and the techniques used to study them. “The Fossil Evidence” traces in detail the evolution of apes and humans, from Proconsul to the australopithecines, and Homo erectus to the Neanderthals and Homo sapiens. The latest fossil finds at major new sites such as Dmanisi in Georgia and Gran Dolina in Spain are appraised, and new advances in genetic studies, including the extraction of DNA from extinct human species, are evaluated. “Interpreting the Evidence” reconstructs and explains the evolution of human behavior, describing the development of tool use, the flourishing of the earliest artists, and the spread of modern humans to all corners of the world.
The book is superbly illustrated with hundreds of photographs, diagrams, and specially commissioned reconstruction drawings by the artist John Sibbick.