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Paleoanthropology: the very word sounds daunting, a dry-as-dust, arcane academic discipline -- but nothing could be further from the truth, as this fascinating and provocative book makes clear. In fact, the search for human origins is a passionate, vital pursuit, a world filled with larger-than-life personalities and intense rivalries, a field where sudden insights and imaginative leaps must be backed up by meticulous forensic reconstructions, and competing theories of our evolution may stand or fall on the evidence of a single, million-year-old fragment of bone.
In the Footsteps of Eve, with its carefully reasoned argument, challenges the conventional wisdom of half a century. It suggests that the true cradle of our species lies in the fossil-rich limestone of South Africa rather than in the East African sites where Louis and Mary Leakey revolutionized modern paleoanthropology and where Don Johanson made the discovery of the ancient skeleton immortalized as Lucy. Dr. Lee Berger, a leader of the new generation of scientists whose recent discoveries have reshaped our ideas about human genesis, is an expert and engaging guide who offers a detailed yet always clear and readable overview of the quest for our origins, from Darwin to the present day. He makes a persuasive case for redrawing our ancient family tree.
We join him in deep caves where miner's headlamps illuminate the long-buried bones that are the clues in a detective story that spans more than three million years, and in laboratories where patient researchers spend years assembling tiny shards into the skull of a creature who walked the Earth more than 5,000 generations ago. We sit in on conferences where brilliant scientists engage in intellectual sparring matches as tense as any courtroom drama. And we share the electric thrill when he runs his fingertips across the fossilized footprint of a young human female who walked along a South African beach more than 100,000 years ago -- and suddenly realizes that this extraordinary find may alter our current perceptions of human history.
In the Footsteps of Eve introduces readers both to an outstanding, wonderfully articulate new voice in paleoanthropology and to a bold new theory of our earliest ancestry. Combining hard science and high drama, it is a book as engrossing as it is important.
Library of Congress subject headings for this publication: Human beings Origin