The Last Human: A Guide to Twenty-Two Species of Extinct Humans / Edition 1

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This book tells the story of human evolution, the epic of Homo sapiens and its colorful precursors and relatives. The story begins in Africa, six to seven million years ago, and encompasses twenty known human species, of which Homo sapiens is the sole survivor. Illustrated with spectacular, three-dimensional scientific reconstructions portrayed in their natural habitat developed by a team of physical anthropologists at the American Museum of Natural History and in concert with experts from around the world, the book is both a guide to extinct human species and an astonishing hominid family photo album.
The Last Human presents a comprehensive account of each species with information on its emergence, chronology, geographic range, classification, physiology, lifestyle, habitat, environment, cultural achievements, co-existing species, and possible reasons for extinction. Also included are summaries of fossil discoveries, controversies, and publications. What emerges from the fossil story is a new understanding of Homo sapiens. No longer credible is the notion that our species is the end product of a single lineage, improved over generations by natural selection. Rather, the fossil record shows, we are a species with widely varied precursors, and our family tree is characterized by many branchings and repeated extinctions.
Exhibition information:
Photographs of most of the reconstructions that appear in this book will be featured in exhibits appearing in the new Hall of Human Origins at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City.  The opening of the Hall is planned for November 2006.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Remarkable in scope and clarity, this stunning collaboration among scientists, scholars and artists reveals the vast panorama of hominid evolution. The project began when the Fossil Hominid Reconstruction and Research Team, led by anthropologist Sawyer and paleoartist Deak, began reconstructing fossilized skulls and skeletons, using meticulous procedures of forensic anatomical reconstruction to build 3-D models of contemporary humankind's known predecessors. Paleontological and anatomical data for each species were combined with anthropological and climatological research to produce this volume, covering 22 species and seven million years. As chapters move chronologically from our most primitive antecedents, the poorly known "ape men" of the African Sahel, through better-known ancestors, such as the Australopithecines, Homo habilisand Neanderthals, the data grow in complexity and quantity; happily, fictional accounts of individual hominids draw readers into each new chapter. Illustrated with astonishingly lifelike portraits of long-gone species, this volume also includes appendixes that describe in detail how those portraits were achieved. Both inspiring and humbling, this look at humanity's ancestors-the worlds they inhabited, the challenges they faced and the legacies they left-is fascinating, informative and deeply provocative. (Feb.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Library Journal

With text by Sarmiento (research associate) and G.J. Sawyer (senior scientific technician), both with the Division of Anthropology, American Museum of Natural History, and Richard Milner, this singular book resembles a field guide, only one related to human evolution. It documents the prevailing view among anthropologists that human evolution more closely resembles a bush than a straight line. Beginning between six and seven million years ago in Africa, it covers 22 species of extinct humans, concluding with the only surviving one, Homo sapiens. A team of physical anthropologists and artists at the American Museum of Natural History created three-dimensional scientific reconstructions for the species featured. Provided for each is information on its emergence, chronology, geographic range, classification, physiology, environment, habitat, cultural achievements, coexisting species, and possible reasons for extinction. Summaries of fossil discoveries for each species are also provided, along with historical notes mentioning publications and controversies. This guide shows humans as the lone surviving branch of a family tree wherein different hominid species once evolved and coexisted. With a foreword by Donald C. Johanson (anthropology, Arizona State Univ.) and an introduction by curator Ian Tattersall, this is an essential addition for science and paleoanthropology collections; highly recommended for academic and public libraries.
—Gloria Maxwell

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780300100471
  • Publisher: Yale University Press
  • Publication date: 6/28/2007
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 990,702
  • Product dimensions: 8.40 (w) x 10.60 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

G. J. Sawyer is senior scientific technician, Esteban Sarmiento is research associate, and Ian Tattersall is curator, all in the Division of Anthropology of the American Museum of Natural History. The authors live in New York City. Studio V is located in Connecticut. Donald C. Johanson is Virginia M. Ullman Chair in Human Origins, professor, department of anthropology, and director, Institute of Human Origins, at Arizona State University. Meave Leakey is research associate, National Museums of Kenya, adjunct professor, Stony Brook University, New York, and Explorer-in-Residence, National Geographic Society.
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Table of Contents

Foreword   Donald C. Johanson     16
We Were Not Alone: Introduction   Ian Tattersall     18
Twenty-Two Species of Extinct Human Ancestors   Esteban Sarmiento     24
The Earliest African Hominids
Morning Encounters
Sahelanthropus tchadensis     29
Orrorin tugenensis     34
Ardipithecus ramidus and kadabba     39
Omo, Lake Turkana, and Awash Basins and the Appearance of the Human Lineage
A Much Welcomed Visit
Australopithecus anamensis     50
We Are Family
Kenyanthropus platyops     58
The First Nomad?
Australopithecus afarensis     65
Dispatching a Mortal Enemy
Paranthropus aethiopicus     79
The First Tool-Using Scavenger?
Australopithecus garhi     87
The South African Fossil Caves Sites
The Animal Trap
Australopithecus africanus     96
To Live and Die on the High Veldt
Paranthropus robustus/crassidens     107
Back to the East African Great Rift Valley and the Appearance of Homo
A Two Leg Advantage
Homo rudolfensis     117
The Luck of the Pygmy
Homo habilis     124
In the Shadow of Man
Paranthropus boisei     133
When Opportunity Knocks
Homo ergaster     141
From Africa to Asia?
A Handful of Know-How
Homo georgicus     151
Eve Without Adam
Homo erectus     158
A Winter Night's Desperation
Homo pekinensis     168
An Island Sunset for the Little People
Homo floresiensis     176
Africa, Europe, and then the World
The Ultimate Competitor
Homo antecessor     185
How to Grow a Sugarplum Tree
Homo rhodesiensis     194
Greed and Equality
Homo heldelbergensis     201
Hunters and Hunted
Homo neanderthalensis     210
Then There Was One
Homo sapiens     222
Afterword   Meave Leakey     230
The Search for Faces of the Past   G.J. Sawyer   Viktor Deak     232
Portraits of Prehistory: Imaging Our Ancestors   Richard Milner     237
Further Reading     251
Acknowledgments     252
Index     253
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