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Origins: Human Evolution Revealed Hardcover – September 20, 2010

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Dr. Douglas Palmer is a science writer and lecturer. His books include The Neanderthal, which accompanied the acclaimed UK series, Earth Time, The Atlas of the Prehistoric World and Prehistoric Past Revealed (MB). He recently published Evolution (University of California Press, November 2009).

Paleo-artist John Gurche's work has appeared on the cover of National Geographic, Discover and National History.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Mitchell Beazley (September 20, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1845334744
  • ISBN-13: 978-1845334741
  • Product Dimensions: 10 x 1.2 x 11.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.7 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #936,603 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

33 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Roald Euller on February 26, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Origins: Human Evolution Revealed is a large format "coffee table" style overview of the current scientific thinking with respect to human evolution. There are many colored photographs, diagrams and maps. A striking reconstruction of Lucy peers out from the dust jacket. Origins is an introduction, aimed at a general audience. The many illustrations make it highly accessible. Nonetheless, the text is not "dumbed down" and packs in considerable information. Origins need not be read as a narrative, in fact each chapter can be read as a "stand alone" and there is some repetition across chapters.

The book is divided into two sections, the first consisting of a series of short (10-15 page) chapters each focusing on a specific early hominid species. Starting with Proconsul africanus (about 18 million years ago) through Australopithecus, Homo habilis, Homo erectus, Homo neanderthalensis, and ultimately Homo sapiens, each chapter describes circumstances surrounding the initial and subsequent finds, the resulting scientific debate and discussion, and our current thinking with respect to where each species fits in the primate evolutionary "bush". Provided are brief sketches of the key scientific figures associated with each species (e.g. - the Leakey's). John Gurche contributed interesting artistic reconstructions of each species' appearance, reflecting current thinking.

The second section focuses on the global migration of Homo sapiens and his predecessors, tracing multiple waves of migration from Africa throughout the world. Separate chapters focus on the dispersion from Africa, and the migrations into Europe, Australasia, and the Americas. There are also chapters on art and tool making.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Gianni on May 16, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book provides a beautifully illustrated thoughtful and sympathetic treatment of our most significant prehuman, near human and direct human anticessors. Dr Palmer provides a brief panoramic overview of the scope of the text and then dives deep into the details of the focus species. In the first part of the book:Meet the Ancestors, he lays out the latest findings from the various disciplines and provides a vivid profile of each of his subjects. In the second part: The Human Odyssey, he starts with our dispersion from Africa and traces the uniquely human evolution of art, sophisticated tool making,and weaponry.

One comes away with a sense of close familiarity and connectedness with our distant past and an appreciation for the multifaceted developments which make us so unique in our humanity.

This book was a thoroughly enjoyable and very enlightening read
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Robert Williams on June 21, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Following the authoratative works of Paul Bahn and Randall White, author Doughlas Palmer gives us yet another wonderful coffee table book about the origins of humans. It is 9 1/2 x 11 1/2 and is packed with dozens of full page color photographs depicting our ancestors from Proconsul Africanus to Homo Sapiens. After a brief introduction, in part one 13 species are described in full detail in text and in photos giving us an overall view of what is known about each species. Art, tools, Food, fire and shelter are also discussed.

In part two, Palmer traces our foot steps out of Africa and dispersal into the rest of the world. Many maps and charts are provided. He then explores the origins of art, and the tools that evolved into weapons. There are some fine photographic examples of paleolithic cave art, bead and shell art, tools and musical instruments.

I especially liked the color artistic representations of what these creatures may have looked like in real life. Putting a face on them somehow makes them seem more real than the study alone of fossil bones and skulls of these hominids. Given this, Homo Neanderthalensis men looked more like us than not. It is likely too that (because of the climate ) he had fair skin.

Overall, Palmer has done a masterful job presenting ancient man to us on a lay man's palate. One cannot hope to come away from this tome without a more incitefull view of the origins, evolution and advancing culture of our species. Any student of paleoarchaeology would benefit from having a copy of the book in his library.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Potsmokindino on March 7, 2012
Format: Hardcover
If you want to learn more about the origins of the human species and our extinct relatives without spending too much time and energy trying to understand a strictly academic read, this is the book for you.

It has wonderful artwork by renown paleoartist, John Gurche, and also has tons of information from the vigorous research done by the author, Douglas Palmer, so you will definitely learn a thing or two about where we came from as a species and how we possibly migrated out of the African continent to become one of the most dominant species on the planet. You will become acquainted with the various members of our unique offshoot of the great ape family; from the Neanderthals of ice age Europe and the Middle East, to the diminutive Indonesian Hobbits.

For me, I'm a very visual individual and I love looking at pictures and great artwork (as I'm an illustration student who loves his prehistoric animals),and this book certainly delivers. From pencils sketches to immensely detailed sculptures (like the one on the cover), you will not be disappointed. Crisp and gorgeous pictures are also provided of the, fossils, localities and countries where these creatures were discovered.

The only fault I can find with this book is its size and weight. It's best read sitting down.
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