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Origins Reconsidered: In Search of What Makes Us Human

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In Origins Reconsidered, Richard Leakey, one of the most respected and influential scientists of our time, takes us on a brilliant and provocative journey through human history. Beginning with his landmark discoveries at Lake Turkana, and including his fascinating reassessment of how we became "human" - and what, after all, being human really means - Leakey concludes with a glimpse of what our evolutionary future may hold. In 1984, Richard Leakey and his "Hominid Gang" of fossil hunters discovered fragments of a ...
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1992 Hard cover New in new dust jacket. Sewn binding. Cloth over boards. 375 p. Audience: General/trade. New copy in excellent condition, tight binding, perfect dust jacket

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1992 Hard cover New in fine dust jacket. Sewn binding. Cloth over boards. 375 p. Audience: General/trade.

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1992 Hardcover New 385412649. Brand new; 1.5 x 9.75 x 6.5 Inches; 375 pages.

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New York, NY 1992 Hard Cover First Edition, First Printing Collectible-New in New jacket BRAND NEW & Collectible. Theory of human development. Beginning with the skeletal ... remains of the paleoanthropological "Turkana Boy" in 1984, milestone in how human physically evovlved, to considering "How did we become human? " in terms of consciousness, creativity, and culture. An intellectual exercise calling upon concepts from philosophy, anthropology, molecurlar biology and linguistics. Read more Show Less

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Overview

In Origins Reconsidered, Richard Leakey, one of the most respected and influential scientists of our time, takes us on a brilliant and provocative journey through human history. Beginning with his landmark discoveries at Lake Turkana, and including his fascinating reassessment of how we became "human" - and what, after all, being human really means - Leakey concludes with a glimpse of what our evolutionary future may hold. In 1984, Richard Leakey and his "Hominid Gang" of fossil hunters discovered fragments of a boy's skull that were more than 1.5 million years old. They soon unearthed virtually the entire skeleton of what was dubbed the "Turkana Boy" and recognized as one of the most significant paleoanthropological discoveries of all time. But while his Turkana Boy caused a sensation in the media and throughout the world of science, Leakey himself was restless. Yes, the existing fossil record of our prehistory was impressive. But there were more elusive matters to consider. For Richard Leakey the most compelling question is no longer "How did we physically evolve?" It is, instead, "How did we become human?" For this world-renowned paleoanthropologist it is a humbling reminder that no matter how complete the skeleton, how perfect the fossil, there is a gap in our knowledge. Our ancestors evolved from two-legged scavengers into creatures that create. They learned to make stone tools, to communicate, to build shelters, and to hunt for food. This realization sparked Leakey to return to his earlier work - especially his 1977 book, Origins - to poke holes in his previous beliefs and to reflect anew on what makes us who we are. As he gently admits, considerations like these are usually left to philosophers, not scientists. But again and again, he is faced with his own guiding principle: "The past is the key to our future." In this seminal work, Leakey incorporates ideas from philosophy, anthropology, molecular biology, and even linguistics, to investigate not only h

Leakey's personal account of his fossil hunting and landmark discoveries at Lake Turkana, his reassessment of human prehistory based on new evidence and analytic techniques, and his profound pondering of how we became "human" and what being "human" really means. 40 photos.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Famed paleoanthropologist Leakey relates an intellectual odyssey, describing his discoveries of human origins and his reflections on the nature of humanity. Photos. (Oct.)
Booknews
Renowned paleonathropologist Leakey returns to his earlier work--especially his 1977 book Origins (also co-authored by science writer Lewin)--to poke holes in his previous beliefs, but more importantly to reassess how we became "human," and what, after all, being human really means. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Kirkus Reviews
A superb update of the 1977 bestseller Origins, in which famed anthropologist Leakey (One Life, 1984, etc.), assisted by veteran science-writer Lewin (Bones of Contention, 1987), pondered the mysteries of human nature. Leakey is the "I" in this first-person account, which includes not only scientific speculation about prehistoric human origins and development, but also a flurry of anecdotes from his personal adventures in the field over several decades. Autobiography and analysis both pivot on the discovery in 1984 by Leakey and his associates of "the Turkana boy," a 1.5 million- year-old Homo erectus fossil. The "eureka!" of the find is palpable ("Could we really be on to a skeleton?...We hardly dared voice the speculation—the hope—out loud"), as is Leakey's awe. He details the Turkana boy's daily life, and contrasts Homo erectus culture to that of other early hominids. This leads to conjectures on other puzzles of prehistory: How did consciousness arise? Language? Art? Why did Neanderthals disappear? At times, the answers come by means of new paleontological tools like molecular biology and dental-growth analysis, and Leakey's explanations of these high-tech procedures—usually while detailing a pitched scientific battle between opposing researchers—are models of lucidity. Fans of scientific squabbling will also enjoy watching him keep the heat on archrival Don Johanson, discoverer of "Lucy," challenging him on everything from fossil classification to the derivation of the hominid line. Less enticing, perhaps, is Leakey's philosophical materialism, in which the sole reason for human intelligence is our "need to understand and outwit others in the drive forreproductive success." A few years ago, Leakey turned in his paleontological pickaxe; he now works full-time—surrounded by a retinue of bodyguards—as director of Kenya's antipoaching Wildlife Service. This may be his swan song as a fossil hunter. If so, it's a tingling farewell; if not, it's still vintage Leakey. (Forty b&w photographs—not seen.)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780385412643
  • Publisher: The Doubleday Religious Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 9/1/1992
  • Pages: 400

Table of Contents

Prologue
Pt. 1 In Search of the Turkana Boy
1 To West Turkana 3
2 A Giant Lake 26
3 The Turkana Boy 41
Pt. 2 In Search of Beginnings
4 Of Myths and Molecules 67
5 Upright Apes and Family Relations 81
6 The Human Bush 97
7 The Black Skull 121
Pt. 3 In Search of Humanity
8 Human Origins 137
9 This Way Lies Humanity 153
10 A Pendulum Swings Too Far 173
11 The Human Milieu 187
Pt. 4 In Search of Modern Humans
12 The Mystery of Modern Humans 203
13 Mitochondrial Eve and Human Violence 218
Pt. 5 In Search of the Modern Human Mind
14 The Loom of Language 239
15 Evidence of Mind 252
16 Murder in a Zoo 278
17 Consciousness: Mirror on the Mind 295
18 Windows on Other Worlds 312
Pt. 6 In Search of the Future
19 Origins Reconsidered 339
Index 361
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