Two New Books on Human Evolution

The Fossil Chronicles: How Two Controversial Discoveries Changed Our View of Human Evolution and Born in Africa: The Quest for the Origins of Human Life are two very recent books on human evolution, both of which I recommend, depending on your interests.

The first is by Dean Falk, who has studied brain endocasts for the last 30 years. Falk chronicles her early work on endocasts, the relationship between that work and the much earlier work of Raymond Dart, in South Africa on the first Australopith fossil, and touches on the problems of being a woman with somewhat controversial findings to report, in a largely patriarchal field of study. But all that is just background for Falk’s description of her work on the famous Hobbit remains from Flores, Indonesia; She was called in to study the brain endocasts of one of those very famous fossils.

Meridith’s book is an overview of the life and times of the “fossil hunters” working in Africa over several decades, from the times of, once again, Raymond Dart, to more recent times. I had thought I had heard all the dirt on these researchers, but Meridith has a few interesting items that were new to me.

These two books are very different from each other in what they intend to do and the material they cover, but there are numerous overlaps and relationships between the two. I’ve written a review of the two books, together, for print publication, and when that comes out in several weeks I’ll point you to it, and I won’t say more here about them here. I liked both books, and I wanted to get this notice out now because the pair would make a nice holiday gift for the person in your live who likes this stuff … they are fairly recent publications.

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