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Lone Survivors: How We Came to Be the Only Humans on Earth Hardcover – March 13, 2012

ISBN-13: 978-0805088915 ISBN-10: 0805088911

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Lone Survivors: How We Came to Be the Only Humans on Earth + Masters of the Planet: The Search for Our Human Origins (MacSci) + The Complete World of Human Evolution (Second Edition)  (The Complete Series)
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Times Books (March 13, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805088911
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805088915
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.4 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (83 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #263,410 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"If you want an engaging read about the Out of Africa theory for modern humans, Lone Survivors by paleoanthropologist Chris Stringer is for you. Stringer's stimulating writing will carry you from the beginning to the end of this important book."
—Don Johanson, Founding Director, Institute of Human Origins Arizona State University

"Lone Survivors is a magnificent achievement: rich, informative, and comprehensive. Simply the best book on current state-of-the-art human evolutionary studies I have read. I recommend it as the first step for anyone entering this field--and for those who have already taken their first steps, it provides the overview we would all like to have. The book makes a messy field neat and much easier to navigate in. Bravo!"
—Peter C. Kjaergaard, Professor and Director of Interdisciplinary Evolutionary Studies, Aarhus University, Denmark

"Stringer points out that most scientists agree that our first hominid ancestors appeared in Africa 5 million years ago; many species evolved, and a few wandered north about 2 million years ago. Where Homo sapiens originated and how it came out on top remains a matter of intense debate, but Stringer marshals the latest evidence and concludes that his own opinion is correct: Modern humans appeared in a small area of Africa about 200,000 years ago and then moved across the world exchanging genes, tools and behavior with rival human species before supplanting them. Besides trying to make sense of headline-producing fossil and archeological discoveries, the author explains dazzling advances that have solved many problems: precise techniques for dating, DNA studies, isotope analysis to determine an ancient species' diet and travels, CT scans to reveal hidden and even microscopic details and geometric morphometrics and stereolithography to re-create, manipulate and compare skulls and other structures."—Kirkus

"Famed paleoanthropologist Stringer once challenged multiregionalists (who argue that modern humans developed from ancient ancestors in different parts of the world) by proposing that humans emerged rapidly in one part of Africa and then went forth to replace all other hominid species. Now he challenges himself, using new evidence to proclaim that distinct humans coexisted, competed, and even interbred throughout the African continent. "—Library Journal

"Stringer explores  . . . the major trends in human evolutionary theory since Darwin’s time, following the pendulum of scientific opinion as it swings from multiregionalism—the idea that humans evolved through various phases around the globe, with no place serving as a particular origin—to recent African origin theory, and back. Though a prominent out of Africa proponent, Stringer refines his earlier ideas, still focusing on an African beginning, but investigating the possibility that humans interbred with Neanderthals and other ancient humans. The book digs into fossil finds, advanced dating methods, and genetic tools, and shows how experts can deduce so much about our millennia-dead ancestors."—Publishers Weekly

About the Author

Chris Stringer is the author of The Complete World of Human Evolution, Homo britannicus, and more than two hundred books and papers on the subject of human evolution. One of the world's foremost paleoanthropologists, he is a researcher at the Natural History Museum in London and a Fellow of the Royal Society. He has three children and lives in Sussex and London.

Customer Reviews

A well written book on the subject.
Karl Denton
I also would have like if he, at some point, stopped using all the scientific names and data and would rather write more summarily, but this flaw is not major.
craigr1971
This book is worth a read and re-read!
J. Borree

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

163 of 169 people found the following review helpful By Chris on April 2, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Chris Stringer's "Lone Survivors: How We Came to be the Only Humans on Earth" comes along some seventeen years after his ground-breaking book "African Exodus: The Origins of Modern Humanity" (Henry Holt, 1996). Stringer is one of the principal architects and proponents of the "Out-of-Africa" (OOA) hypothesis associated with the origin and dispersal of anatomically modern humans, i.e., Homo sapiens. According to Stringer and the OOA hypothesis, anatomically modern humans evolved in Africa nearly 200,000 years ago, and then 'something' happened about 50,000 years ago that resulted in essentially the relatively rapid spread of our species into much of Eurasia, eastern Asia, Indonesia and Australia, and into western Europe over a period of about 10,000 years! What is even more remarkable is that it now appears that there were other populations of archaic Homo species that we coexisted and/or competed with for a time, likely including Homo erectus, Homo neanderthalensis, and the newly discovered little people of Flores, Homo floresiensis.

In just under 280 pages, Chris Stringer takes the reader through the history of our human origins with the fossil evidence. He synthesizes the latest advances in knowledge associated with paleoclimatology, geochronological dating methods, and geology and plate tectonics. Most importantly, Stringer spends much of the book talking about the evolution of human behavior (e.g., developing and utilizing technology, use of symbolism, developing survival and coping strategies, burial of dead, etc.). The evolutionary steps leading to Homo sapiens wasn't a given.
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46 of 47 people found the following review helpful By J. Borree on April 10, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Lone Survivor, titled Origin of Our Species in the UK, is an up-to-date overview of the science and speculation about our species' nature and survival. I found it well written and enjoyable but confusing at times because of a lack of headings of the different sections in the chapters. Springer changes topics and develops ideas within each chapter that could have been emphasized and organized by sub-headings.
The author deals mainly with the origins, cultures and travels of Erectus, Heidelbergensis, the Neanderthals and Sapiens. So, the book is focused on our species as the "lone survivor" with passing references to much earlier species. Springer also pays attention to the Neanderthals and, I believe, is up-to-date in the DNA science. I especially liked Springer's theory that cultures both grow and degenerate, explaining that physical and cultural changes may not be linear. He touches on art, language, and possible spiritual beliefs. Only occasionally did the author's suppositions not get labelled as such. For example, he mentioned that we are the only species to remember our dreams...
While this book is not a pure academic presentation nor a basic book nor summer beach read, it is written by an experienced scientist who is still entranced with his subject. I came away from this book with much more knowledge, the feeling that I had almost been in a conversation with the author and an admiration for the multiple hominids that walked all over this planet.
This book is worth a read and re-read! It has, by the way, a great bibliography. For more reviews, please check with AmazonUK.
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41 of 42 people found the following review helpful By DaLaoHu on October 14, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I'm having a tough time deciding whether to give this book three stars or four. This is a very informative book, no doubt about that. If you're a layperson like me interested in the latest developments in the field of human origins, this book provides a wealth of up-to-date information and will also lead you into new ways of thinking about the subject. For instance, in my case, although it seems so obvious in retrospect, I never considered how important such a simple thing as population size was to the ultimate evolution of our species. But of course, ancient human populations were not necessarily expansive, as I had always tended to think of them, but at times could have been (and most likely were) limited to very small pockets of survivors, greatly impacting their ultimate chances for survival. And perhaps more importantly, greatly impacting the results of any survival. (Which leads to the further question, which the author puts forward: how many pockets like these might there have been which we do not yet even know about?)

And for this wealth of knowledge I give it four stars. This is a book well worth reading. You will be gifted with a thorough and thought-provoking survey of most of the recent trends and discoveries concerning the subject of human origins.

But, oh, the writing and editing ... It seems to me this book was a rush job, that with the field changing so quickly, both the author and editor felt compelled to get it to the market fast. And the text suffers for it. There are far too many references that are not adequately followed up on or placed out of context. Often the reader is left to simply scratch his head and wonder: what? And perhaps then wonder why even bother to continue. The chapter on dating techniques is almost unbearable.
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