Born in Africa: The Quest for the Origins of Human Life

Overview


Africa does not give up its secrets easily. Buried there lie answers about the origins of humankind. And yet, though vital clues still remain hidden, scientists have over the last century transformed our understanding about the beginnings of human life. In Born in Africa, Martin Meredith follows scientists? trail of discoveries about human origins, recounting their intense rivalry, personal feuds, and fierce controversies as well as their feats of skill and endurance. And he limns their momentous ...
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Born in Africa: The Quest for the Origins of Human Life

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Overview


Africa does not give up its secrets easily. Buried there lie answers about the origins of humankind. And yet, though vital clues still remain hidden, scientists have over the last century transformed our understanding about the beginnings of human life. In Born in Africa, Martin Meredith follows scientists’ trail of discoveries about human origins, recounting their intense rivalry, personal feuds, and fierce controversies as well as their feats of skill and endurance. And he limns their momentous accomplishments: Scientists have identified more than twenty species of extinct humans. They have firmly established Africa as the birthplace not only of humankind but also of modern humans. They have revealed how early technology, language ability and artistic endeavour all originated in Africa; and they have shown how small groups of Africans spread out from Africa in an exodus sixty-thousand years ago to populate the rest of the world.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

Kirkus Reivew, April 15, 2011

"An appealing account of human evolution and the fiercely competitive anthropologists who are unearthing our ancestors’ remains and arguing over what they mean…. The author does a superb job of describing the nuts-and-bolts of field research, the meaning of the often headline-producing findings and the ever-changing variety of species who split off from the common ancestors of chimpanzees and hominids.”

Rachel Newcomb
Outsized personalities, turf wars, public insults and heated debates were the order of the day. Meredith outlines these scientific disputes in a clear and accessible manner, and presents a lucid summary of the current scientific thinking on the origins of humanity…Much like the fossil hunters themselves, Meredith manages to assemble a cogent and compelling narrative from the occasionally messy history of paleoanthropology.
—The Washington Post
Library Journal
Today it is accepted that Africa is the continent of origin for the human species. But this was not always the case. A century ago, when human fossils were just beginning to be discovered and classified in various spots across the globe, scientists argued over where human beings originated, with many believing it was Indonesia, elsewhere in Asia, or even Europe. Meredith (History: The Fate of Africa) traces the history of scientific discoveries of human fossils over the last 100 years in the first part of the book, including the many controversies that erupted over differing conclusions within the scientific community. In the second half, he focuses on the migration of the human species out of Africa to the rest of the world. VERDICT Throughout, Meredith successfully chronicles the advancement of scientific thinking where human origins are concerned. Amateur physical anthropologists will find this an interesting, enjoyable read.—Gloria Maxwell, Metropolitan Community Coll.—Penn Valley, Kansas City, MO
Kirkus Reviews

An appealing account of human evolution and the fiercely competitive anthropologists who are unearthing our ancestors' remains and arguing over what they mean.

Observing that apes and chimpanzees live in Africa, Charles Darwin theorized that it was the home of our common ancestor, "the most likely birthplace of humankind." Almost no one agreed at the time, writes British journalist and historian Meredith (Mandela, 2010, etc.). Experts dismissed South African Raymond Dart's landmark 1924 discovery, a complete skull of a primitive hominid. Matters did not change until after World War II, largely because of the energetic, colorful and contentious Louis Leakey, soon joined by his wife, Mary, their children and grandchildren. In human anthropology more than most sciences, both academic success and fame depend on finding extraordinarily rare human remains, a task that requires grueling persistence, a talent for raising money and luck. Meredith reveals his journalistic roots by focusing on these ambitious, often media-hungry men and women whose foibles and nasty feuds may not be relevant but make for entertaining reading.

The author does a superb job of describing the nuts-and-bolts of field research, the meaning of the often headline-producing findings and the ever-changing variety of species who split off from the common ancestors of chimpanzees and hominids.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781610391054
  • Publisher: PublicAffairs
  • Publication date: 5/8/2012
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 778,465
  • Product dimensions: 5.80 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author


Martin Meredith is a journalist, biographer, and historian who has written extensively on Africa and its recent history. He is the author of many books including The Fate of Africa and Diamonds, Gold, and War. He lives near Oxford, England.
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Table of Contents

Maps ix

Preface xiii

Introduction xvii

Part 1

1 The Valley of Wild Sisal 3

2 Dart's Child 9

3 Broom's Triumph 23

4 White African 37

5 Dear Boy 47

6 Handy Man 63

7 Koobi Fora 71

8 Hadar 83

9 Laetoli 93

10 Bones of Contention 105

11 Turkana Boy 113

12 A Dance Through Time 121

13 New Frontiers 129

14 Little Foot 147

Part 2

15 Prototypes 155

16 Pioneers 163

17 Sapiens 175

18 Exodus 187

Glossary 195

Notes on Sources 199

Selected Bibliography 207

Index 219

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 1, 2012

    Wonderful!!!

    This book was a perfect read. I was very immersed and couldn't put book down. The information just flowed... If you are a student or just like to read about controversies in the scientific community this one book that should be on your list!!! Seriously....

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 8, 2011

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