Fossil Men: The Quest for the Oldest Skeleton and the Origins of Humankind

Kermit Pattison (Author)
Pre-Order   Ships Nov 10, 2020

Description

A rip-roaring tale, Fossil Men is one of those rare books that can be a prism through which to view the world, exposing the fabric of the Earth and illuminating the Tree of Life. --New York Times bestselling author Peter Nichols

A behind-the-scenes account of the shocking discovery of the skeleton of "Ardi," a human ancestor far older than Lucy - a find that shook the world of paleoanthropology and radically altered our understanding of human evolution.

In 1994, a team led by fossil-hunting legend Tim White--"the Steve Jobs of paleoanthropology"--uncovered the bones of a human ancestor in Ethiopia's Afar region. Radiometric dating of nearby rocks indicated the skeleton, classified as Ardipithecus ramidus, was 4.4 million years old, more than a million years older than "Lucy," then the oldest known human ancestor. The findings challenged many assumptions about human evolution--how we started walking upright, how we evolved our nimble hands, and, most significantly, whether we were descended from an ancestor that resembled today's chimpanzee--and repudiated a half-century of paleoanthropological orthodoxy.

Fossil Men is the first full-length exploration of Ardi, the fossil men who found her, and her impact on what we know about the origins of the human species. It is a scientific detective story played out in anatomy and the natural history of the human body. Kermit Pattison brings into focus a cast of eccentric, obsessive scientists, including one of the world's greatest fossil hunters, Tim White--an exacting and unforgiving fossil hunter whose virtuoso skills in the field were matched only by his propensity for making enemies; Gen Suwa, a Japanese savant who sometimes didn't bother going home at night to devote more hours to science; Owen Lovejoy, a onetime creationist-turned-paleoanthropologist; Berhane Asfaw, who survived imprisonment and torture to become Ethiopia's most senior paleoanthropologist and who fought for African scientists to gain equal footing in the study of human origins; and the Leakeys, for decades the most famous family in paleoanthropology.

An intriguing tale of scientific discovery, obsession and rivalry that moves from the sun-baked desert of Africa and a nation caught in a brutal civil war, to modern high-tech labs and academic lecture halls, Fossil Men is popular science at its best, and a must read for fans of Jared Diamond, Richard Dawkins, and Edward O. Wilson.

Product Details

Price
$32.50  $29.90
Publisher
William Morrow & Company
Publish Date
November 10, 2020
Pages
544
Language
English
Type
Hardcover
EAN/UPC
9780062410283

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About the Author

Kermit Pattison is a journalist whose work has appeared in the New York Times, GQ, Fast Company, and Inc., among many other publications. He spent more a decade doing research for Fossil Men, a large portion of which was spent in the field in Ethiopia with the team that discovered Ardi. This is his first book. He lives in St. Paul, Minnesota.