The Link: Uncovering Our Earliest Ancestor

The Link: Uncovering Our Earliest Ancestor

4.1 11
by Colin Tudge
     
 

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For more than a century, scientists have raced to unravel the human family tree and have grappled with its complications. Now, with an astonishing new discovery, everything we thought we knew about primate origins could change. Lying inside a high-security vault, deep within the heart of one of the world's leading natural history museums, is the scientific find of a

Overview

For more than a century, scientists have raced to unravel the human family tree and have grappled with its complications. Now, with an astonishing new discovery, everything we thought we knew about primate origins could change. Lying inside a high-security vault, deep within the heart of one of the world's leading natural history museums, is the scientific find of a lifetime - a perfectly fossilized early primate, older than the previously most famous primate fossil, Lucy, by forty-four million years.

 A secret until now, the fossil - "Ida" to the researchers who have painstakingly verified her provenance - is the most complete primate fossil ever found. Forty-seven million years old, Ida rewrites what we've assumed about the earliest primate origins. Her completeness is unparalleled - so much of what we understand about evolution comes from partial fossils and even single bones, but Ida's fossilization offers much more than that, from a haunting "skin shadow" to her stomach contents. And, remarkably, knowledge of her discovery and existence almost never saw the light of day.

 With exclusive access to the first scientists to study her, the award-winning science writer Colin Tudge tells the history of Ida and her place in the world. A magnificent, cutting-edge scientific detective story followed her discovery, and The Link offers a wide-ranging investigation into Ida and our earliest origins. At the same time, it opens a stunningly evocative window into our past and changes what we know about primate evolution and, ultimately, our own.

Editorial Reviews

Guy Gugliotta
In short, The Link is so accessible as to seem simplistic -- but it works as a compelling introduction to the study of human evolution. It is about what paleontologists do and how they do it. So forget the hype; it stands on its own merit
—The Washington Post
From the Publisher
"This is an extraordinary fossil."—Sir David Attenborough"

This fossil will probably be the one that will be pictured in all textbooks for the next one hundred years."—Dr. Jørn Hurum, University of Oslo"

When the results of our investigations are published, this will be just like an asteroid hitting the Earth."—Dr. Jens Lorenz Franzen, Senckenberg Research Institute"

A kind of Rosetta stone... it ties together parts we haven't been able to associate before."—Dr. Philip Gingerich, University of Michigan"

The most beautiful fossil primate I've ever seen. In terms of a complete skeleton, it's hard to think of anything else in primate evolution that's as complete as this fossil."—Dr. Holly Smith, University of Michigan

University of Oslo Dr. Jørn Hurum
"This fossil will probably be the one that will be pictured in all textbooks for the next one hundred years."
Senckenberg Research Institute Dr. Jens Lorenz Franzen
"When the results of our investigations are published, this will be just like an asteroid hitting the Earth."
Sir David Attenborough
"This is an extraordinary fossil."
University of Michigan Dr. Philip Gingerich
"A kind of Rosetta stone... it ties together parts we haven't been able to associate before."
University of Michigan Dr. Holly Smith
"The most beautiful fossil primate I've ever seen. In terms of a complete skeleton, it's hard to think of anything else in primate evolution that's as complete as this fossil."

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780316076456
Publisher:
Little, Brown and Company
Publication date:
05/20/2009
Sold by:
Hachette Digital, Inc.
Format:
NOOK Book
Sales rank:
871,856
File size:
15 MB
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This product may take a few minutes to download.

What People are saying about this

David Attenborough
This is an extraordinary fossil.

Meet the Author

Colin Tudge is a biologist by education and a writer by inclination—on biology, food and agriculture, and the philosophy of science. His books include The Tree, Feeding People Is Easy, Consider the Birds, and The Time Before History. For more information about the author, go to www.colintudge.com.

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Link: Uncovering Our Earliest Ancestor 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 11 reviews.
ReaderLO More than 1 year ago
A very well organized, compelling and interesting read. Students particularly will find this a handy addition to simplifying a terribly complicated and confusing subject. The photos are amazing. I did find however, that I needed to sit in front of the computer to look up all the scientific names and terms as I read through it. I think the book itself is great, it's the lack of supporting photos and charts that's frustrating. Dry noses, wet noses, prosimians, anthropoids, adapids etc. Photos or pictures of these imbedded in the text would have been very helpful. But, evidenced by the fact that I can write the above terms when I had no idea what they were or meant before I picked up this book I did learn a lot. Nicely done.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ah, where to begin... Well first this book is great. Well written, interesting, and another nail in the already shut coffin on where humans evolved from. The Earth is older than 4,000 years, carbon dating really does work, and dinosaurs really existed, the end. Its time for everyone to take a step back and look at actual evidence before making judgments and pulling the bible card. Ignorance is not bliss all the time and we could be Evolving further as people if we could realize we are finding out new evidence all the time on where we came from and how. Every year the number of non religious people is rising and it probabaly has something to do with the ability to reason outside the box, and be ok with it. i personally am ok that life has the ability to adapt and make itself stronger for future generations, and wasn't snapped into existense. we know that future studies will again prove evolution, as it has over and over so lets just enjoy these amazing discoveries that science finds enjoy the truth.
Enjay More than 1 year ago
Do you know the difference between the Eocene and the Miocene? How about an anthropoid and a hominid? Where on your family tree would you likely find a Omomyid or a Tarsier? It doesn't matter. Colin Tudge slides gracefully over the more arcane paleontological terms and carefully uncovers for us the story of the discovery and the significance of one of mankind's earliest ancestors, Ida. Ida, who was rescued from the Messel Pit in Germany by a private collector and then squirreled away for years, found her way to a fossil-fair in Hamburg, Germany, in 2006. There, she was rescued by Jorn Hurum, an associate professor of paleontology at the University of Oslo. And Ida's claim to fame? She is a complete fossil, right down to the remains of her last meal in the pit of her stomach. Futhermore, she predates apes by about 15 million years. And finally, she was found in what is now western Europe, not in Africa. The joy of Tudge's effort is the seamless blending of paleontology and geology to provide the lay-reader with a detective story, rich in scientific detail, as well as an over-arching perspective upon the origins of man. My only criticism is his needless and aimless wanderings into the morass of global warming. Must every scientific writer, no matter the topic, evangelize upon this new-found religion? But don't worry, the homily slides by, just like the geological and paleontological terms, and the reader is left with a darn good yarn.
Skeptical-DoDo More than 1 year ago
The book by Colin Tudge is about a fossil find from Germany. It recently garnered a lot of press. Found by a private collector from the Messel site in Germany and hidden away for 20 years, has some negative connotations. A scientist from Oslo Norway obtaining the speciman and putting a team together to study it is compelling. It is very clear to the lay person. For that primary reason I recommend the book. I question calling it a Link as that term is discouraged in scientific circles, but maybe as a hook for lay readers it is worth it. A paper about the discovery and evaluation of the find has only recently been published. Peer review has only just begun. What I really like about the book is the description of the time period in which the fossil lived and the description of the evolution of primates. This is valuable to hear through all the noise of creationism and its child intelligent design. That makes the book a recommneded read for the lay person.
Cheyenne1 More than 1 year ago
The Link is one of the most enlightening, updated, informative reads on primates on the market. When comparing it to other books on primates it is accurate,and compelling. i would highly recommend this book to students,researchers and anyone interested in the study of the origin of man. Without "The Link" your knowledege will be incomplete.
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