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Paleoanthropology 2 Sub Edition

3.4 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0070716766
ISBN-10: 0070716765
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 936 pages
  • Publisher: Mcgraw-Hill College; 2 Sub edition (June 1, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0070716765
  • ISBN-13: 978-0070716766
  • Product Dimensions: 1.5 x 8.5 x 10.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,164,303 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Hardcover
"Paleoanthropology" is, and deserves to be, the standard against which all paleoanthropology texts should be measured. After introductory chapters on dating methods and evolutionary theory, it covers human evolution beginning with Miocene primates, proceeding through australopithecine and Pleistocene Homo evolution, and ending with a thorough analysis of the European fossil record. "Paleoanthropology" has three major strengths. The first lies in its detailed treatment of the fossil evidence over the last 5 million years. Every major specimen is described clearly, precisely and thoroughly. More importantly, each specimen is placed within the context of its evolutionary significance. Its second strength lies in its treatment of the entire organism. Archaeology and behavioral theory are combined with morphological evidence to arrive at a detailed appraisal of what the hominid was doing and why it was doing it. Rarely do textbooks adequately address such issues. Third, "Paleoanthropology" addresses every important theoretical issue in paleoanthropology. Certainly Wolpoff emphasizes his views, but, in each case, he presents the various protagonists' views of how the evidence supports their opposing positions. For example, the predictions of the Recent Replacement model, and the supporting fossil and archaeological evidence, are clearly presented. Wolpoff takes a position on this and other issues. All authors do so and are seldom criticized for it. However few authors go to the lengths that Wolpoff does to present all important alternative points of view. Anyone interested in detailed descriptions of the fossil material and thorough discussions of central theoretical issues is strongly encouraged to read this text.
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Format: Hardcover
The 4 star-rating I give this book is an answer to the question, "Did the author accomplish what he set out to accomplish (as laid out in the Introduction)?" I suspect that the author under-estimated the amount of information a reader needs to be equipped with already, in order to understand what the book has to offer; or, perhaps, over-estimated the intelligence of the reader. As the author warns, the book is not an introductory book, and indeed quite challenging for those going in with 2-3 courses in biological anthropology. As any book would be, with 878 pages, single-spaced, two-column, 10-font Times New Roman, all black-and-white. On the other hand, the book shines for those who have a good idea about what it is among the numerous topics in human evolution that the reader wants to know. This is the book I frequently look up when developing a project, be it an analytical, historical, or literature review, or for a quick check on data. One finds morphological descriptions of all relevant fossils, with their historical background, dates, and their places in paleoanthropology literature. More references are in the back of the book, as a good starting point. Drawings of fossils are effective enough for those familiar with human osteology and the fossil record to have a mental image. Numerous tables (116 in number) and figures (392 in number) provide drawings, numbers, lists, and comparisons within and between fossil samples across vast range of time and space. The author states that it is the specific perspective of the author that is presented in the textbook, and to his credit, the interpretations are unmistakably so. The book is heavy to carry around and does not look simple, sophisticated or elegant. But I appreciate this book that presents human evolution as much more than the simplistic and almost flippant package of ponderings often witnessed in the literature.
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Format: Hardcover
This text is perfect in many ways, and imperfect in many ways. However, it contains the information as a text should, clearly and concisely. Those who find it long and unreadable should look into another field, as human evolution is not an "easy" subject. It is a text, and reads as such (i.e. it is long and hard to read for retention of facts, but allows easy access to specific information through its organization and index). The reviews that give this text 1 star are probably from one or more of the professors who take issue with Wolpoff himself, which is why the two reviewers with locations give Michigan as their location. It is interpersonal battles and petty attacks such as this that led to certain lawsuits between these professors. That is pathetic. This text serves its purpose wonderfully, as any objective opinion will tell you, no matter what your interpretations of the archaeological record.
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Format: Hardcover
Covering the subject of Paleoanthropology is never easy, at best. This is especially so when one has a competitor of the quality of Richard Klein's "The Human Career". However, Professor Wolpoff has brilliantly succeeded at carving his own niche, with Klein's book focusing more on archaeology and his more on skeletal analyses. I would recommend students purchase both textbooks to obtain the best overall picture. Paleoanthropology is separated into four parts, with a total of 14 chapters ranging from descriptions of the process of evolution, to the distinguishing anatomical features of the Anthropoidea and the hominins, and to the late Pleistocene. A comprehensive glossary is given at the end of the book which proves invaluable. A general collection of references is found at the end of the book and more specific references can be found after each chapter. It is not a book for newcomers who should introduce themselves to the subject through a more general summary; rather it is for the dedicated amateur and scholars to utilise at graduate level and as a professional reference work. I am an archaeologist and would recommend it for anyone who is seriously interested in paleoanthropology and archaeology.
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