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Lucy's Legacy: The Quest for Human Origins [Kindle Edition]

Dr Donald Johanson , Kate Wong
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $15.00
Kindle Price: $11.84
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Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

“Lucy is a 3.2-million-year-old skeleton who has become the spokeswoman for human evolution. She is perhaps the best known and most studied fossil hominid of the twentieth century, the benchmark by which other discoveries of human ancestors are judged.”From Lucy’s Legacy

In his New York Times bestseller, Lucy: The Beginnings of Humankind, renowned paleoanthropologist Donald Johanson told the incredible story of his discovery of a partial female skeleton that revolutionized the study of human origins. Lucy literally changed our understanding of our world and who we come from. Since that dramatic find in 1974, there has been heated debate and–most important–more groundbreaking discoveries that have further transformed our understanding of when and how humans evolved.

In Lucy’s Legacy, Johanson takes readers on a fascinating tour of the last three decades of study–the most exciting period of paleoanthropologic investigation thus far. In that time, Johanson and his colleagues have uncovered a total of 363 specimens of Australopithecus afarensis (Lucy’s species, a transitional creature between apes and humans), spanning 400,000 years. As a result, we now have a unique fossil record of one branch of our family tree–that family being humanity–a tree that is believed to date back a staggering 7 million years.

Focusing on dramatic new fossil finds and breakthrough advances in DNA research, Johanson provides the latest answers that post-Lucy paleoanthropologists are finding to questions such as: How did Homo sapiens evolve? When and where did our species originate? What separates hominids from the apes? What was the nature of Neandertal and modern human encounters? What mysteries about human evolution remain to be solved?

Donald Johanson is a passionate guide on an extraordinary journey from the ancient landscape of Hadar, Ethiopia–where Lucy was unearthed and where many other exciting fossil discoveries have since been made–to a seaside cave in South Africa that once sheltered early members of our own species, and many other significant sites. Thirty-five years after Lucy, Johanson continues to enthusiastically probe the origins of our species and what it means to be human.


From the Hardcover edition.


Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Johanson (Lucy: The Beginnings of Humankind), the paleoanthropologist who in 1974 discovered the famed 3.2-million-year-old hominid named Lucy, and Scientific American editor Wong delve deeply into the significance of Lucy, her probable ancestors and her probable successors, including modern humans. The authors capture the curiosity, passion and excitement that Johanson and his colleagues bring to their research, as well as the mundane, backbreaking aspects of fieldwork. Wong and Johanson are also expert at framing the science that informs judgments about what defines a hominid species, such as brain size, the ability to walk upright and facial structure. They probe the equally important question of what drove human evolution, examining three major approaches: a social model, a dietary model and an environmental model. Johanson is adept at framing the debates within his famously contentious discipline, ranging from fundamental questions about the fossil record to theories of early human migration, the fate of the Neanderthals and the controversy over the highly publicized recent discovery of fossil "hobbits" on the Indonesian archipelago. The writing is accessible, especially considering the challenging nature of the science that shapes our understanding of human evolution. (Mar.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Johanson’s fourth book trading on the Beatles-derived name he gave the famous fossil he found in 1974 well complements the second edition of From Lucy to Language (2006), in particular. That book was 50 percent different from its 10-years-older original state because of the further revolutionary changes wrought in hominid paleontology by several very recent discoveries that Johanson devotes most of the latter two-thirds of this book to explaining. The first third recounts his return to Ethiopia’s Hadar region in 1980 after a hiatus necessitated by political turmoil in the East African nation. Very engaging, thanks perhaps to popular scientific journalist Wong, it communicates the poignancy of Johanson’s occasionally nerve-racking return to the birthplace of his career with something of the verve and suspense of an Indiana Jones movie. Hooked by that adventurous beginning, and introduced to many of the figures whose work preoccupies what follows, many will continue with the book’s real meat, which implicatively but not literally argues that far from there being no missing link between apes and humans, there are several, complicatedly related, with more being found and likely to be found in the foreseeable future. --Ray Olson

Product Details

  • File Size: 1424 KB
  • Print Length: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Broadway Books (March 3, 2009)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B001UFP6QW
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #482,608 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating info, but I recommend a better one April 9, 2009
Format:Hardcover
The author, Don Johanson, is the founder of "Lucy",the 4.2 million year old hominid that revolutionized the study of human evolution. This book tells again the story of his find, and of his extensive research and findings since that time. He also covers the ground of other discoveries in the field. And the pace of discovery in this field in the last 35 years is truly astonishing.
But his writing can be kind of stiff. If you want a sense of where the field of human evolution is today, much of the same ground is more vividly and completely told in "The First Human" by Ann Gibbon, which I recommend highly . If you are looking specifically for the story of "Lucy" and Johanson's work since, then "Lucy's Legacy" is for you.
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25 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating, compelling, highly readable!! March 8, 2009
By RLS
Format:Hardcover
Once again, Dr. Johanson has written a book for those of us with a passion for human evolution, but not a PhD in it! Lucy's Legacy is an exciting, suspenseful, action-packed adventure that goes behind the scenes... here for the first time we learn what really happens before - and after - an important discovery is made. Some of it isn't pretty! Also includes up-to-date information about all the latest finds, amazing photographs, and a ton of delicious personal anecdotes.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Suprised at my misconceptions! June 8, 2009
Format:Hardcover
This book was a pleasant surprise. I enjoy reading about the sciences yet I had neglected a topic that has everything to do about me and us, from which all things human flow. This book is both a memoir and an informative update, but more, a reality check as this subject has been so badly misconstrued while rightly turned on its head by amazing new discoveries. Johanson's adventures are a good read and keep things exciting, but this book is not just about Lucy; each chapter serves as a great overview of important topics in human evolution. I was surprised at just how riveted I became, both humbled and elevated with my place on Earth.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A good read, but with flaws May 30, 2011
Format:Paperback
"Lucy's Legacy: The Quest for Human Origins" by Donald Johanson and Kate Wong serves as a non-technical introduction to the advances in modern paleoanthrolopogy told through the perspective of Dr. Johanson's career at the Institute of Human Origins (IHO). The text is broken into three sections which describe the discovery of the Lucy skeleton, the contemporary and ancestral hominid species to Lucy, and the evolution of hominid species since Lucy. Each section serves only as an overview of the topic, and more detailed, scientific discussions of each are available elsewhere.

The strength of the book is in its moderate use of technical terms and attention to telling as complete of a story as possible in this rapidly changing field. After reading the book, one has a basic understanding of paleoanthropology from initial field research through the laboratory to the conference podium. Likewise, the discussion on hominid evolution goes to lengths to introduce a multitude of theories for the reader to consider (although the author is quick to point out which theories he disagrees with and why).

Unfortunately, the book suffers from several areas of vague writing. The first section of the text, an autobiographical account of the discovery of Lucy, wanders throughout the author's career with little structured direction. While it sets up the further sections of the book, it could do so in either shorter length or with more structured detail. Throughout the text, the author references field research methods and terminology with little explanation of what the practices are or why they are important.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THE LATEST BOOK BY THE FAMED PALEOANTHROPOLOGIST June 20, 2014
Format:Paperback
Donald Carl Johanson (born 1943) is an American paleoanthropologist; he has also written Lucy: The Beginnings of Humankind, From Lucy to Language, Ancestors: In Search of Human Origins, and Lucy's Child: The Discovery of a Human Ancestor.

He begins this 2009 book with a recounting of his team's most famous hominid discoveries: "Lucy" ("It was a special moment for all of us, though I don't think any of us truly realized how special at the time"; pg. 7) and the "First Family" ("Had I turned down Mike's request to join our expedition, the well-concealed teeth might not have been found"; pg. 18). He mentions his relations with Richard Leakey: "Friendly rivalry is at times a good things because it motivates us all to work a little harder, a little longer, and take chances we otherwise might not take"; pg. 15). He also describes himself as "a lifelong atheist." (Pg. 61).

Along the way, he explains some of his general principles, such as, "it's vital to be open to explanations that you never considered before. Often the theories that take you most by surprise turn out to be correct." (Pg. 97). He explains, "I am not a 'lumper' or a 'splitter' in any traditional sense." (Pg. 103) He states that A. afarensis (i.e., "Lucy") "occupied a basal position on the human family tree as the ancestor to all later hominids...
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Lucy in the Sky...
Lucy in the Sky...I was expecting Indiana Jones and I got Charles Darwin. I was expecting drama and I got a documentary. Read more
Published 3 months ago by JBB1
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book.
Excellent book. Johanson is the foremost popularizer of books on paleoanthpolology. I look forward to more books from this author.
Published 8 months ago by Syed
5.0 out of 5 stars Lucy's legacy
Very good read on the discovery of Lucy and other finds as well as where they all fit in the evolutionary family tree.
Published 15 months ago by Raptor
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant Legacy
Lucy' Legacy brings back all the exitement and wonder that I felt when she was discovered. Lucy started it all for me, she opened a whole new world to me and I have watched with... Read more
Published 21 months ago by shumack
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic review of our evolutionary history
I am an vid reaed on human evolution and a dye hard evolutionist! This book has been fun to read as well as very informsative on aspects of the human fossil record, its finding,... Read more
Published 22 months ago by Otavio H. Thiemann
5.0 out of 5 stars Lucy's Legacy: The Quest for Human Origins
This book came quickly and It is a pleasure to be able to read it. It continues the writings about how science thinks we began. This is a very interesting read. Read more
Published on September 15, 2011 by Susan Korte
4.0 out of 5 stars Good book
I thought this was a good read. It gives you a picture of the behind the scenes work it takes to recover and analyze fossils. Read more
Published on August 27, 2011 by S. Stanicki
5.0 out of 5 stars Adventures in Paleoanthropology
Lucy's Legacy was written by the paleoanthropologist Donald Johanson who was involved in the discovery of the Lucy female skeleton. Kate Wong is listed as a co-author. Read more
Published on February 26, 2011 by Randolph Eck
3.0 out of 5 stars A guy book.
The title led one to expect a lot more about anthropology than it actually gave. It seemed less a book about the austropithicine Lucy and more one about the author Donald... Read more
Published on September 27, 2010 by Atheen M. Wilson
5.0 out of 5 stars Lucy's Legacy
Very satisfactory transaction - delivery, condition of book, etc. And very thought-provoking subject matter - inspired a spirited book club discussion.
Published on May 3, 2010 by Judith A. Harrigan
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Lucy Fraud
Your last statement is ironic, given that multiple lines of genetic evidence independently corroborate a relationship between humans and chimpanzees. See, for example: http://www.christianforums.com/t96639/#post1828403
Even if we had no fossil record, we'd still have evidence for a link.... Read More
May 15, 2009 by T. Michael Keesey |  See all 7 posts
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