The Wisdom of the Bones: In Search of Human Origins

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9780679747833: The Wisdom of the Bones: In Search of Human Origins

"Fascinating. . . .  As engaging an explanation of how scientists study fossil bones as any I have ever read." --John R. Alden, Philadelphia Inquirer

In 1984 a team of paleoanthropologists on a dig in northern Kenya found something extraordinary: a nearly complete skeleton of Homo erectus, a creature that lived 1.5 million years ago and is widely thought to be the missing link between apes and humans. The remains belonged to a tall, rangy adolescent male. The researchers called him "Nariokotome boy."

In this immensely lively book, Alan Walker, one of the lead researchers, and his wife and fellow scientist Pat Shipman tell the story of that epochal find and reveal what it tells us about our earliest ancestors. We learn that Nariokotome boy was a highly social predator who walked upright but lacked the capacity for speech. In leading us to these conclusions, The Wisdom of the Bones also offers an engaging chronicle of the hundred-year-long search for a "missing link," a saga of folly, heroic dedication, and inspired science.

"Brilliantly captures [an] intellectual odyssey. . . .  One of the finest examples of a practicing scientist writing for a popular audience."            
--Portland Oregonian
    
"A vivid insider's perspective on the global efforts to document our own ancestry."
--Richard E. Leakey

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Review:

Traveling to the desolate rock-strewn deserts of northen Kenya, where the temperature can hit a brutal and dry 130 degrees, would be enough of a trip, but scientist Alan Walker also takes us on a trip in time, far back in time, where we meet a boy who will help to re-write the story of our human ancestors. The mysterious boy, whose skeleton is the best specimen of Homo Erectus, the species long considered the proverbial missing link between apes and humans, lived more than a million years ago. But in the hands of scientists whose skill is only matched by their curiosity, his bones talk to us today. A highly readable account which shows how paleoanthropologists, in work both painstaking and exciting, reach conclusions about the day-to-day life of the ancestors of modern man.

About the Author:

Alan Walker is professor Emeritus at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. Before going to Canada, he worked in the Music Division of the BBC in London. He is the author of several books of musical criticism and analysis including Hans von Bülow: a Life and Times, Reflections on Liszt, and Liszt: v. 3. The Final Years, to name a few. He has organized numerous Liszt festivals and symposia in the United States and Canada. For his contributions to Liszt scholarship, the government of Hungary awarded him the Pro Cultura Hungarica medal.

Pat Shipman is a professor of anthropology at Penn State University and coauthor of the award-winning The Ape in the Tree and The Wisdom of Bones. Her other works include The Man Who Found the Missing Link, Taking Wing, and To the Heart of the Nile. She writes for American Scientist and lives in Pennsylvania.

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Book Description Random House USA Inc, United States, 1997. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Vintage Books ed.. Language: English . Brand New Book. A remarkable discovery was made a decade ago on a dig in northern Kenya. When all the bone and skull fragments were painstakingly pieced together, they revealed the nearly complete skeleton of a teenage male (nicknamed Nariokotome boy, after a nearby sand river). Faced with the best-ever specimen of Homo erectus - a species long identified as the proverbial missing link between apes and humans - paleoanthropologist Alan Walker embarked on a long-term investigation of that species s nature. In this book, telling the story of that inquiry, he introduces us to his ever surprising, deeply engrossing world. Walker examines even the tiniest of bones and the subtlest of clues in his analysis. He first recounts the story of the more-than-century-long search for the missing link, a bizarre and compelling saga made up of brilliant science and speculative nonsense. Then he builds, step-by-step, on some of his predecessors assumptions, and he challenges others, using state-of-the-art techniques to reveal the truth. In Walker s hands the bones reveal an amazing amount of information about the Nariokotome boy s anatomy and the way he lived. We watch as Walker deduces from the evidence that community and cooperation were already very important at this stage of human evolution; that the boy was modern in climatic adaptation and locomotion yet archaic in growth pattern; and that the boy could not speak. In Walker s final assessment this last insight becomes the most important one. Bookseller Inventory # BZV9780679747833

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Book Description Random House USA Inc, United States, 1997. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Vintage Books ed.. Language: English . This book usually ship within 10-15 business days and we will endeavor to dispatch orders quicker than this where possible. Brand New Book. A remarkable discovery was made a decade ago on a dig in northern Kenya. When all the bone and skull fragments were painstakingly pieced together, they revealed the nearly complete skeleton of a teenage male (nicknamed Nariokotome boy, after a nearby sand river). Faced with the best-ever specimen of Homo erectus - a species long identified as the proverbial missing link between apes and humans - paleoanthropologist Alan Walker embarked on a long-term investigation of that species s nature. In this book, telling the story of that inquiry, he introduces us to his ever surprising, deeply engrossing world. Walker examines even the tiniest of bones and the subtlest of clues in his analysis. He first recounts the story of the more-than-century-long search for the missing link, a bizarre and compelling saga made up of brilliant science and speculative nonsense. Then he builds, step-by-step, on some of his predecessors assumptions, and he challenges others, using state-of-the-art techniques to reveal the truth. In Walker s hands the bones reveal an amazing amount of information about the Nariokotome boy s anatomy and the way he lived. We watch as Walker deduces from the evidence that community and cooperation were already very important at this stage of human evolution; that the boy was modern in climatic adaptation and locomotion yet archaic in growth pattern; and that the boy could not speak. In Walker s final assessment this last insight becomes the most important one. Bookseller Inventory # BTE9780679747833

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