The Last Neanderthal: The Rise, Success, and Mysterious Extinction of Our Closest Human Relatives

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9780028608136: The Last Neanderthal: The Rise, Success, and Mysterious Extinction of Our Closest Human Relatives

Scientists have long known that the popular image of the Neanderthal as a primitive, hairy, heavily browed, club-wielding brute is not supported by the fossil evidence. But to date, no such consensus has existed on the riddle of Neanderthals' disappearance. The Last Neanderthal, written by one of the most respected authorities he subject and supported by a dazzling wealth of material, paints the first full portrait of the most familiar and haunting of human relatives. Drawing on the latest findings and sophisticated new techniques of analysis, Ian Tattersall marshals the best available evidence to unravel the mysteries of the Neanderthals -- who they were, how they lived, how they succeeded for so long. Drawing on his own research and the work of others, Tattersall takes on the most fascinating question of all -- what happened to them? This revised edition is fully updated to include information on Tattersall's recent survey of all known Neanderthal fossils and cutting-edge work with Neanderthal DNA.

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About the Author:

Ian Tattersall is Chairman and Curator of the Department of Anthropology at the American Museum of Natural History and adjunct professor of anthropology at Columbia University. His books include The Fossil Train, The Human Odyssey, Becoming Human , and The Myths of Human Evolution (with Niles Eldredge).

From Booklist:

Tattersall, a polished presenter of paleoanthropology (The Fossil Trail ), turns this album toward a specific vexation of the field: the relation of our species to the Neanderthals. Do they constitute lineal ancestors or a separate evolutionary branch? Were they exterminated or absorbed by humans about 30,000 years ago? Interpretations of the evidence excite strenuous debate among the experts, as chronicled in James Shreeve's The Neandertal Enigma , so what's a curious amateur to make of the brouhaha? That's where Tattersall (also a museum curator) excels as he conveys the essentials of the technical literature to the public. These consist of methods by which Neanderthal sites are dated, what inferences may be drawn from the fossils' anatomy, and for background, a narrative of current knowledge about the hominid line. Abundant full-page photos of specimens and archaeological digs cement Tattersall's clarity on the topic, making this an immeasurable aid to students and armchair anthropologists alike. Gilbert Taylor

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