- Paperback: 416 pages
- Publisher: Simon & Schuster; Reissue edition (September 15, 1981)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9780671724993
- ISBN-13: 978-0671724993
- ASIN: 0671724991
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.2 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 39 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #111,887 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Lucy: The Beginnings of Humankind Paperback – September 15, 1990
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From the Back Cover
When Donald Johanson found a partial skeleton, approximately 3.5 million years old, in a remote region of Ethiopia in 1974, a headline-making controversy was launched that continues on today.
About the Author
Science writer Maitland Edey lives in New York City and Martha’s Vineyard.
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In his book, Lucy: The Beginnings of Humankind (Touchstone Simon & Schuster 1990) Johanson and his co-author, Maitland Edey tell the fascinating tale of how they found Lucy, the most complete skeleton ever uncovered of an Australopithecene, the genus that immediately preceded Homo. Prior to this find, he was pretty much an unknown, toiling with many other paleoanthropologists in search of man's roots, maybe the now defunct 'missing link'. Johanson got an idea, followed it despite adversity, disbelievers, money problems and set-backs. These, he chronicles in the book, sharing every step of his journey with an easy-going writing style, breaking down the complicated science to an amateur's understanding and sharing his innermost thoughts on his discovery and how it changed then-current thinking on man's evolution. I learned not only about Lucy, but how paleoanthropologists do their field work, what their days are like, how they fight to prepare for an expedition, and the politics they must solve both to get there and get back. Johanson also includes well-written descriptions on the background of human evolution, field work in East Africa, the paleo-historic geology of Olduvai Gorge (the famed location where Leakey uncovered so much of our primeval roots), the discussion among scientists that pinned down the human-ness of the genus Homo and what differentiated it from older genus like Australopithecines (Lucy's genus), other animals Lucy likely lived with and survived despite of, how Lucy's age was definitively dated, and more.
Johanson jumps right in with the Prologue, telling us how Lucy came to be discovered, and then takes us back to the story of how he got there and what happened after. Through Lucy's story, we learn about man's beginnings and who that earliest forebear was. Here are some of my favorite quotes:
She had lain silently in her adamantine grave for millennium after millennium until the rains at Hadar had brought her to light again
Bands of Homo erectus would wait in the valleys between the hills for the big game herds that migrated south for the winter. They drove the game into swamps by setting grass fires.
Big men have big brains, but they are no smarter than small men. Men are also larger than women and have consistently larger brains, but the two sexes are of equal intelligence
Desert people the world over shun wadis or defiles as campsites
The ash became wet and, almost like a newly laid cement sidewalk, began taking clear impressions of everything that walked across it
You don't gradually go from being a quadruped to being a biped. What would the intermediate stage be--a triped? I've never seen one of these.
You might not think that erect walking has anything to do with sex, but it has, it has
If one is to jump and snatch, one had better be able to judge distances accurately.
The way to precise distance judgment is via binocular vision: focusing two eyes on an object to provide depth perception
The chimpanzee...is the most adaptable of the apes.
A hen is an egg's way of getting another egg.
For some truly beautiful and realistic drawings of man's predecessors, check out Jay Matternes.