Archive for the 'Early man' Category

13
Jan
14

On Hiatus

I’m working on my scientific fiction book. I’ll be back in a while…

09
Oct
13

Why Are People Right-handed?

Twining ivy

Twining ivy

Plants are left or right-handed. Look at them. They grow toward one direction, not

necessarily due to the sun. You’re probably most familiar with plants that have tendrils, or twine their way up a post  or fence. If you look more closely, you’ll notice that they form consistent right- or left-handed helices as they climb.

Non-human primates are balanced as far as handedness goes–some left, some right–as were Australopithecines. But when our genus Homo arrived, we became more likely right-handed.

Why? Take a guess before you read the article below. Defense? Hunting? Some requirement of balance with our upright position? Maybe a relationship between the right hand and left brain?

Read on.

The Origins of Handedness – Origins

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26
Sep
13

The How and Why of Early Man

So many questions about our past are debated because of the lack of  written records. Before man put proverbial pen to paper, we had only bones and teeth, soil contents, paleo-geology and -geography and -climate, to intuit what might have been.

This, despite the fact that we know for a fact that written records are always from the writer’s perspective. They are only trustworthy to the point we trust the writer–like a Leakey, Donald Johansson, Chris Beard, Jane Goodall. These interpretations–albeit highly trained–of primary sources (Earth’s record) are given more credibility than the primary source itself (an action I’m sure discouraged by Leakey’s and Johnasson’s and Beard’s and Goodall’s teachers as they pursued their research). Why? The reason is simple: It takes a PhD to interpret Earth’s story. Continue reading ‘The How and Why of Early Man’

01
Aug
13

47 Must Read Books That Explain Human Evolution

homo habilis

Lucy: Her Story of Survival

Here’s a well-rounded list of books that will tell you the basics of mankind’s evolution from primate to modern man. It includes books on the paleoanthropology, archeology, paleo-everything, primate behavior, evolution of those features that characterize our human-ness and more. I’ve read every book on this list, keep most of them in my library. I wish I could read each one again for the first time:

  1. Allen, E.A., The Prehistoric World: or, Vanished Races Central Publishing House 1885
  2. Brown Jr., Tom, Tom Brown’s Field Guide: Wilderness Survival  Berkley Books 1983
  3. Caird, Rod  Apeman:  The Story of Human Evolution  MacMillan  1994
  4. Calvin, William, and Bickerton, Derek  Lingua ex Machina: Reconciling Darwin and Chomsky with the Human BrainMIT Press, 2000
  5. Carss, Bob and Birch, Stewart The SAS Guide to Tracking Lyons Press Guilford Conn. 2000
  6. Cavalli-Sforza, Luigi Luca and Cavalli-Sforza, Francesco  The Great Human Diasporas: The History of Diversity and Evolution   Perseus Press  1995
  7. Conant, Dr. Levi Leonard The Number Concept: Its Origin and Development  Macmillan and Co. Toronto 1931
  8. Diamond, Jared  The Third Chimpanzee   Harper Perennial  1992
  9. Edey, Maitland  Missing Link  Time-Life Books  1972
  10. Erickson, Jon Glacial Geology: How Ice Shapes the Land   Facts on File Inc. 1996
  11. Fleagle, John Primate Adaptation and Evolution  Academic Press 1988 Continue reading '47 Must Read Books That Explain Human Evolution'
19
Jun
13

How Did Homo erectus Differ as a Species 800,000 ya?

He seeks out Lucy out of duty to his band

He seeks out Lucy out of duty to his band

Once Homo erectus left Africa and began his journey to the disparate biomes and habitats of the planet, he evolved from the phenotype that populated Africa 1.8 mya. His behavior adapted to  new climates and that begat variations in tool use, food consumed and cultural norms. His group size, home base characteristics, survival techniques started to vary across the planet.

More than that, Homo erectus‘ (variously called Homo erectus, Homo ergaster and Homo antecessor depending upon where they lived) physical characteristics evolved to suit the environ, be it what we consider ancient China, Java, Dmanisi Georgia, Israel or Gran Dolina Spain. I’m sure man’s genotype remained within what would be considered Homo erectus, but culturally and physically, the bands differed greatly.

Let me take a step back for a moment. There is a difference of opinion as to when mankind’s ‘culture’ began. I spent quite a bit of time researching the definition of ‘culture’ as well as its roots without finding a definitive answer. Therefore, I’ll call the lifestyle elements that are based on environmental conditions like geology, geography, climate, ecosystems ‘culture’. From reading the research of the experts, I’ve come to believe our forebears developed ‘culture’ the moment they used their powers of reasoning to adapt their actions to their surroundings.

Why do I care about all this? Primarily, I am curious about my ancestors. Homo erectus is the first species of the genus Homo to portray the wanderlust so important to modern man’s occupation of every corner of the planet. Nothing seemed to stop him. He adapted, invented and survived. This is eerily familiar to modern man.

To better understand how these long-gone individuals lived their lives, I set out to tell their story a decade ago. What were their daily activities? How did Homo erectus survive the unforgiving hand of nature? What led to inventions like fire, clothing and Acheulian tool making (the latter arrived hundreds of thousands of years apart depending upon whether erectus lived in China or Israel. Why?)  To make sense of these questions, I invented characters and dropped them into settings with crises I reasoned they likely would have faced in their world. This gave me the required elements of a paleo-historic novel.

Continue reading ‘How Did Homo erectus Differ as a Species 800,000 ya?’

29
May
13

Great Quotes About the Evolution of Man

credit: San Diego Museum of Man

Lucy: Her Story of Survival

I’m writing a novel about paleo-historic man. As such, I’ve spent an inordinately long period of time researching early man. Here are some of the best quotes I’ve run across on the

evolution of our species:

  • Future changes of any note will be in our minds, and what we do with them.  –Phillip Tobias
  • “But I’m not dancing alone,” he said. “I am dancing with the forest, dancing with the moon.” Then, with the utmost unconcern, he ignored me and continued his dance of love and life. The Forest People: A Study of the Pygmies of the Congo — Colin Turnbull
  • Impossible is relative –Dr. Michio Kaku
  • Man still bears in his bodily frame the indelible stamp of his lowly origin. –Charles Darwin
  • When primeval man first used flint stones for any purpose, he would have accidentally splintered them, and would then have used the sharp fragments. From this step it would be a small one to break the flints on purpose and not a very wide step to fashion them rudely. –Charles Darwin, The Descent of Man
  • Fossils are like truth. They are not where you look for them, but where you find them. –GHR Von Koenigswald
  • I learnt from Flo how to be mother. Flo was patient, tolerant. She was supportive. She was always there. She was playful. She enjoyed having her babies, as good mothers do.  –Jane Goodall, referring to a mother chimp she’d studied for years.
  • Chimps are unbelievably like us – in biological, non-verbal ways. They can be loving and compassionate and yet they have a dark side… 98 per cent of our DNA is the same. The difference is that we have developed language – we can teach about things that aren’t there, plan for the future, discuss, share ideas… –Jane Goodall
  • (Man’s) greatness does not consist in being different from the animals that share the earth with him, but in being…conscious of things of which his environment has no inkling. –GHR Von Koenigswald
  • A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.  – Greek Proverb
  • Words require little energy to produce; they are ‘cheap tokens’ and can be used with little or no risk or cost to deceive, just as easily as to inform.  Body language is much more reliable for most animal purposes. — Derek Bickerton
  • Continue reading ‘Great Quotes About the Evolution of Man’
15
May
13

Book Review: Singing Neanderthals

The Singing Neanderthals: The Origins of Music, Language, Mind, and BodyThe Singing Neanderthals: The Origins of Music, Language, Mind, and Body

by Steven Mithen

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I have avoided this book in the past because my personal interest extends to an earlier time than Neanderthals, but I shouldn’t have. The title is misleading in that he extends to man’s earliest Homo habilis days, not those relatively-modern Homo neanderthalensis times. He explains the importance of music to man’s ability to use symbols, to express ideas without the vast lexicon we currently possess. He shares his definition of music as ‘human sound communication outside the scope of language’ (borrowed from Bruno Nettl) and describes a believable scenario for the co-evolution of music and language. All in all, a well thought-out book with lots of factually-based opinions.

View all my reviews

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30
Apr
13

Did You Know: Early Man Was Pretty Smart

mankind“…Homo erectus of 700,000 years ago had a geometrically accurate sense of proportion and could impose this on stone in the external world. In effect, without paper or ruler, mathematical transformations were being performed.” Mental Abilities of Early Man: A L0ok at Some Hard Evidence John A. J. Gowlett 1984, Academic Press, London


Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy. She is webmaster for six blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a columnist for Examiner.com and TeachHUB, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers, Cisco guest blog,Technology in Education featured blogger, IMS tech expert, and a bi-monthly contributor to Today’s Author. In her free time, she is the editor of a K-8 technology curriculum, K-8 keyboard curriculum, K-8 Digital Citizenship curriculum, and creator of technology training books for how to integrate technology in education. Currently, she’s editing a thriller that should be out to publishers next summer. Contact Jacqui at her writing office or her tech lab, Ask a Tech Teacher.

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10
Apr
13

Book Review: Timewalkers

Timewalkers: The Prehistory of Global ColonizationTimewalkers: The Prehistory of Global Colonization

by Clive Gamble

View all my reviews

It’s a difficult question. Why did earliest man leave Africa and migrate to new areas. Mostly, animals evolve suited to their environment and they don’t stray far. They may have several areas they frequent, but they return to each, not leave them entirely.We had already accommodated ourselves to ravel more than 12 kilometers for raw materials, which is less than modern hunter-gatherers, but more than other primates. Continue reading ‘Book Review: Timewalkers’

03
Apr
13

Book Review: The Acheulian Site of Gesher Benot Ya’Aqov, Israel: The Wood Assemblage

The Acheulian Site of Gesher Benot Ya'Aqov, Israel: The Wood Assemblage (Gesher Benot Ya'aqov Monograph Series)The Acheulian Site of Gesher Benot Ya’Aqov, Israel: The Wood Assemblage

by Naama Goren Inbar

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A readable monograph, which sounds like an oxymoron but is actually a rarity. Lots of scientific detail. I read it to get better insight into this part of Israel during the middle Pleistocene, the time Homo erectus was emigrating from Africa to the world. Yes, I got some of that, though the author refused to draw conclusions from her collected data. This was my personal disappointment, but gave me respect for the type of scientist Dr. Inbar is. I’ve looked for the other books in the series (this one only covers the wood detritus collected at the site), but they either were never written or are unpublished.

View all my reviews

Continue reading ‘Book Review: The Acheulian Site of Gesher Benot Ya’Aqov, Israel: The Wood Assemblage’

27
Mar
13

Book Review: The Forest People

The Forest People (Touchstone Book)The Forest People

by Colin Turnbull

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I just finished a wonderful book, Colin Turnbull’s The Forest People. Turnbull lived ‘a while’ (pygmies don’t measure time with a watch or a calendar) with African pygmies to understand their life, culture, and beliefs. As he relays events of his visit, he doesn’t lecture, or present the material as an ethnography. It’s more like a biography of a tribe. As such, I get to wander through their lives, see what they do, how they do it, what’s important to them, without any judgment or conclusions other than my own. Continue reading ‘Book Review: The Forest People’

06
Mar
13

Should You Worry About Asteroids?

During Lyta‘s time (the Plio-Pleistocene, around 1.8 mya), Nature was more violent than today. Africa’s volcanics were more common and more violent. Mt. Ngorongoro was still alive and belching smoke, as were its many neighbors, possibly due to the growing Great African Rift (the same one we predict will eventually tear the continent in two). Thanks to the triptych of faults (East Africa sits at a rare intersection of three tectonic plates), Earthquakes shook her terrain. The land was cooling, shedding the rainforests her ancestors enjoyed and adopting the grassy savannas still prevalent today.

And, unfortunately for Lyta, an asteroid hit Earth at the same moment a monstrous volcano erupted. Modern

Is this the asteroid that will hit earth?

Is this the asteroid that will hit earth?

scientists agree there is no imminent threat of Earth being bombarded by an asteroid like the one they suspect killed the dinosaurs 65 mya. They also agree we will eventually be hit. The average: about every 100,000 years, we get a bad one. Scientists also agree we have no reliable method of stopping them. Lasers. Nuclear weapons. Nudging them out of the way. They all have their problems.

Lyta lived 1.8 mya. It was her bad luck it was during that once-in-a-hundred thousand years year, and more bad luck–during a volcanic eruption. This confluence of bad luck challenged her nascient human problem-solving skills: She was separated from her infant son, her mate and on the run from that vicious future human, Homo erectus. You can see why I kept Otto focused on her life. Did mankind have the skills as the earliest of the Homo species to solve this sort of multi-problem?

As background for you, I copied this from NASA, to give you an idea how seriously we take potential asteroid impacts:

Potentially Hazardous Asteroids (PHAs) are space rocks larger than approximately 100m that can come closer to Earth than 0.05 AU. None of the known PHAs is on a collision course with our planet, although astronomers are finding new ones all the time.
Continue reading ‘Should You Worry About Asteroids?’
20
Feb
13

The Uncontrollable AI

credit: San Diego Museum of Man

Lucy: Her Story of Survival

Otto is not listening–again. The first time this happened was with Lyta.

Now, he has found a beautiful female Homo erectus. She’s a warrior, strong powerful. She lives in Africa so wears no animal skin clothing to protect her from the cold.

Here are a few more pictures of Lucy, her clan, her habitat:

Continue reading ‘The Uncontrollable AI’

28
Jan
13

Volcanic Eruption During the Pleistocene

Untapped power, deadly and beautiful

Untapped power, deadly and beautiful

If you read my last post, you experienced the power of volcanoes. Because Lyta and her kin had no understanding of these geologic forces during the Plio-Pleistocene, how long they would last, how they as primates could survive their daunting power, they might well have considered eruptions as the end of their world.

If they understood life and death…

If they had a concept of  ‘me’ (studies are varied on this concept).

Think about this:

Volcanic activity dominated Pliocene Africa. Earliest man, until Thinking Man arrived, had no written or oral history, and retained no concept of the impact these tectonic forces played in their lives. But the rocks and the soil remembered and wrote the history into the land itself. It described the absolute dominance of Nature over all creatures, and man’s steps to mitigate this control.

Although frequent volcanic eruptions shook this unique African triple junction rift, one particular flare-up (the one Otto showed me which tore Lyta from her child and lover) ranked as the most violent in hundreds of thousands of years. Gelatinous rock found in the mantle was heated to temperatures in excess of 1600 degrees Fahrenheit and rushed up the volcano’s pipe at the speed of a freight train. It broke through Earth’s crust (a weak layer of sand and crushed rock and feldspar about five miles thick) and exploded with the force of ten thousand atomic bombs, blowing the top off the mountain and leaving behind the largest caldera in the world atop the tallest volcano of the Pliocene. The smoke, ash, and tephra shot forty miles through the troposphere, surpassing the level of the clouds. volcanoxsec

The volcanic debris migrated on the high-speed stratospheric winds around the world three times. It passed over the ancient North American landscape, crossed the sunken land bridge to Asia, and moved on to what would be called Europe, greeted only by confused mammals. It returned to the African continent where the earliest of the genus Homo pondered the disappearance of Sun, and Cousin Chimp wondered why evening came so early.

And it started its circumnavigation again. A residual band of volcanic particles encircled Earth for months afterward and lowered the mean temperature one degree Centigrade. The sun reappeared to a fiery red sunset complemented by an unusual blue moon, an atmospheric reaction to the abnormal amount of sulfuric particles suspended in the troposphere. It would be several years before Earth’s substratosphere recovered.

The sound emitted from the explosion ranked as the greatest ever picked up by a hominid ear. So loud, it caused Boah (an Australopithecine) to cover his ears with his furred hands, and forced the sabertooth cat to fling his head side to side as he tried to rid itself of the abysmal din. The resultant tsunamis rose as high as today’s tallest skyscrapers and sped along at a speed in excess of the fastest cheetah. They crashed into the East African coastline, as well as the beaches of what would be India.

Two million years ago, one of the modern world’s greatest rifts could be characterized as a common geologic gorge, without the breadth and depth for which it is now famous. It responded to the constant destructive pressure of buried hotspots, fed by the frequent volcanic eruptions and bigger-than-life earthquakes, until it became hundreds of feet wide and high by Lyta’s time. What would become known as the Great Rift Valley changed from a simple fracture in the landscape to a geographic formation that transformed the adaptive radiation of man.

Continue reading ‘Volcanic Eruption During the Pleistocene’

16
Jan
13

Tool Use and Chimpanzees

Tool use used to be what separated man from monkey. Then it was using a tool to make a tool. Now, that all has changed.

Continue reading ‘Tool Use and Chimpanzees’

11
Jan
13

Homo habilis vs. Homo erectus

Homo erectus--note the width of the skull and the less-protruding snout


Homo erectus–note the width of the skull and the less-protruding snout

My passion is studying early man, specifically how we became who we are. Is our violence an aberration or part and parcel of survival? No other mammal kills their own, but maybe–as the alpha on the planet–our greatest threat to our survival is our own species, so we’re forced to destroy each other.

What was lacking in H. Habilis that led to their extinction, to be replaced by the big-brained, scrawny Homo erectus? Habilis was preyed upon by species with bigger claws, sharper teeth and thicker skin. Habilis (and my friend Lyta) scavenged their left-overs, in between hiding from the imposing mammals that dominated the Plio-Pleistocene African savanna. But, eventually hiding wasn’t enough and H. erectus took over (we don’t know if they fought with each other or if habilis left ‘with a whimper’).

H. erectus, with his longer lower limbs for running and walking efficiency, his bigger brain especially in the areas for planning and forethought (and speech depending upon whose research you’re reading) was tall, thin, and barrel-chested, hardly daunting in a world of sabertooth cats, mammoth and giant sloths. Yet , it is he who spread from Africa to China, India, the Middle East, Java. It is he–not predator cats or alligators–who developed a highly adaptable culture allowing him to survive a wide range of climates and habitats.

That is the first of their firsts. Want more?

  • first appearance of systematic hunting.
  • first use of fire (though arguably no control of it)
  • first indication of extended childhood (thanks to the helplessness of their infants)
  • first indication of the ability to lead a more complex life (their Acheulian tools were sophisticated, their hunting was planned)
  • first to wear clothing (how else to survive Georgia and China)
  • first to create complex tools and weapons

Continue reading ‘Homo habilis vs. Homo erectus’

19
Oct
12

Lucy: A Biography–Part XXXI

Finally after ten years, I am close to publishing the heart-rending and fast-paced biography of Lucy. Written in the spirit of Jean Auel, this is the paleo-historic saga of our earliest ancestors as lived through the eyes of a female Homo habilis.

photo credit: M. Harrsch

Lucy’s story of survival

Since Donald Johanson uncovered the tiny three-and-a-half foot clawless, flat-toothed Australopithecine, we have asked, Who is she? And how could she survive in a world of mammoth predators and unrelenting natural disasters she had no understanding about? This book answers those questions as well as more fundamental ones like, Where did God come from? Why did man create his first tool? How did culture start?

Here’s a summary:

Lucy: A Biography follows three species of early man (Australopithecus, Homo habilis and Homo erectus), as they fight for the limited resources of Pleistocene Africa. Lucy, of the species habilis, blames herself for the death of her family and agrees to mate with a stranger (Raza). As they journey to Raza’s homebase, they are tracked by two deadly predators: Xha, of the smarter and more powerful species Homo erectus, and the violent and unforgiving Nature, a sentient being who meddles with fate and Lucy’s future as though it were a chemistry experiment. The story is carefully researched to shared the geography, climate, and biosphere that would have been Lucy’s world 1.8 million years ago, when man was not King and nature ruled with a violence and dispassion we call ‘disaster’ today.

Every week, I’ll post part of this story.

A note: While I took Lucy’s name from the infamous Australopithecine skeleton discovered by Donald Johanson, Lucy is a Homo habilis. Her adopted child Boa is an Australopithecine.

Continue reading ‘Lucy: A Biography–Part XXXI’

27
Sep
12

Lucy: A Biography–Part XXX

Finally after ten years, I am close to publishing the heart-rending and fast-paced biography of Lucy. Written in the spirit of Jean Auel, this is the paleo-historic saga of our earliest ancestors as lived through the eyes of a female Homo habilis.

photo credit: M. Harrsch

Lucy’s story of survival

Since Donald Johanson uncovered the tiny three-and-a-half foot clawless, flat-toothed Australopithecine, we have asked, Who is she? And how could she survive in a world of mammoth predators and unrelenting natural disasters she had no understanding about? This book answers those questions as well as more fundamental ones like, Where did God come from? Why did man create his first tool? How did culture start?

Here’s a summary:

Lucy: A Biography follows three species of early man (Australopithecus, Homo habilis and Homo erectus), as they fight for the limited resources of Pleistocene Africa. Lucy, of the species habilis, blames herself for the death of her family and agrees to mate with a stranger (Raza). As they journey to Raza’s homebase, they are tracked by two deadly predators: Xha, of the smarter and more powerful species Homo erectus, and the violent and unforgiving Nature, a sentient being who meddles with fate and Lucy’s future as though it were a chemistry experiment. The story is carefully researched to shared the geography, climate, and biosphere that would have been Lucy’s world 1.8 million years ago, when man was not King and nature ruled with a violence and dispassion we call ‘disaster’ today.

Every week, I’ll post part of this story.

A note: While I took Lucy’s name from the infamous Australopithecine skeleton discovered by Donald Johanson, Lucy is a Homo habilis. Her adopted child Boa is an Australopithecine.

Continue reading ‘Lucy: A Biography–Part XXX’

14
Sep
12

Lucy: A Biography–Part XXIX

Finally after ten years, I am close to publishing the heart-rending and fast-paced biography of Lucy. Written in the spirit of Jean Auel, this is the paleo-historic saga of our earliest ancestors as lived through the eyes of a female Homo habilis.

photo credit: M. Harrsch

Lucy’s story of survival

Since Donald Johanson uncovered the tiny three-and-a-half foot clawless, flat-toothed Australopithecine, we have asked, Who is she? And how could she survive in a world of mammoth predators and unrelenting natural disasters she had no understanding about? This book answers those questions as well as more fundamental ones like, Where did God come from? Why did man create his first tool? How did culture start?

Here’s a summary:

Lucy: A Biography follows three species of early man (Australopithecus, Homo habilis and Homo erectus), as they fight for the limited resources of Pleistocene Africa. Lucy, of the species habilis, blames herself for the death of her family and agrees to mate with a stranger (Raza). As they journey to Raza’s homebase, they are tracked by two deadly predators: Xha, of the smarter and more powerful species Homo erectus, and the violent and unforgiving Nature, a sentient being who meddles with fate and Lucy’s future as though it were a chemistry experiment. The story is carefully researched to shared the geography, climate, and biosphere that would have been Lucy’s world 1.8 million years ago, when man was not King and nature ruled with a violence and dispassion we call ‘disaster’ today.

Every week, I’ll post part of this story.

A note: While I took Lucy’s name from the infamous Australopithecine skeleton discovered by Donald Johanson, Lucy is a Homo habilis. Her adopted child Boa is an Australopithecine.

Continue reading ‘Lucy: A Biography–Part XXIX’

31
Aug
12

Lucy: A Biography–Part XXVIII

Finally after ten years, I am close to publishing the heart-rending and fast-paced biography of Lucy. Written in the spirit of Jean Auel, this is the paleo-historic saga of our earliest ancestors as lived through the eyes of a female Homo habilis.

photo credit: M. Harrsch

Lucy’s story of survival

Since Donald Johanson uncovered the tiny three-and-a-half foot clawless, flat-toothed Australopithecine, we have asked, Who is she? And how could she survive in a world of mammoth predators and unrelenting natural disasters she had no understanding about? This book answers those questions as well as more fundamental ones like, Where did God come from? Why did man create his first tool? How did culture start?

Here’s a summary:

Lucy: A Biography follows three species of early man (Australopithecus, Homo habilis and Homo erectus), as they fight for the limited resources of Pleistocene Africa. Lucy, of the species habilis, blames herself for the death of her family and agrees to mate with a stranger (Raza). As they journey to Raza’s homebase, they are tracked by two deadly predators: Xha, of the smarter and more powerful species Homo erectus, and the violent and unforgiving Nature, a sentient being who meddles with fate and Lucy’s future as though it were a chemistry experiment. The story is carefully researched to shared the geography, climate, and biosphere that would have been Lucy’s world 1.8 million years ago, when man was not King and nature ruled with a violence and dispassion we call ‘disaster’ today.

Every week, I’ll post part of this story.

A note: While I took Lucy’s name from the infamous Australopithecine skeleton discovered by Donald Johanson, Lucy is a Homo habilis. Her adopted child Boa is an Australopithecine.

Continue reading ‘Lucy: A Biography–Part XXVIII’




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Discover the sizzle in science. It's not that stuff that's always for the smart kids. It's the need to know. The passion for understanding. The absolute belief that for every problem, there is a solution. The creative mind seeking truth in a world of mystery. The quest for the Holy Grail.

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Great Science Books

Assembling California
Born On A Blue Day: Inside the Extraordinary Mind of an Autistic Savant
The Forest People
Geology Underfoot in Southern California
The Land's Wild Music: Encounters with Barry Lopez, Peter Matthiessen, Terry Tempest William, and James Galvin
My Life with the Chimpanzees
Naked Earth: The New Geophysics
Our Inner Ape: A Leading Primatologist Explains Why We Are Who We Are
The Runaway Brain: The Evolution of Human Uniqueness
Sand Rivers
The Singing Neanderthals: The Origins of Music, Language, Mind, and Body
The Tree Where Man Was Born
The Wildlife of Southern Africa: A Field Guide to the Animal and Plants of the Region
The Worlds of a Maasai Warrior: An Autobiography


Jacqui's favorite books »
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RSS Fact and Fiction about Early Man

  • The Unfolding of Language: An Evolutionary Tour of Mankind's Greatest Invention January 12, 2014
    author: Guy Deutscher name: Jacqui average rating: 4.18 book published: 2006 rating: 3 read at: date added: 2014/01/12 shelves: early-man, research review: Dr. Deutscher has done a scholarly, thorough discussion on the roots of language, but I believe he started too late in time. I'm of the persuasion that language involves more than the spoken word. I […]
    Guy Deutscher
  • She Who remembers November 3, 2013
    author: Linda Lay Shuler name: Jacqui average rating: 4.17 book published: 1988 rating: 4 read at: date added: 2013/11/03 shelves: early-man review: […]
    Linda Lay Shuler
  • The Runaway Brain: The Evolution of Human Uniqueness July 25, 2011
    author: Christopher Wills name: Jacqui average rating: 4.14 book published: 1993 rating: 5 read at: date added: 2011/07/24 shelves: science, early-man review: In my lifelong effort to understand what makes us human, I long ago arrived at the lynchpin to that discussion: our brain. Even though bipedalism preceded big brains, and we couldn't be who we are […]
    Christopher Wills
  • The Origin Of Humankind July 25, 2011
    author: Richard E. Leakey name: Jacqui average rating: 3.91 book published: 1981 rating: 5 read at: date added: 2011/07/24 shelves: early-man, history review: If you're interested in man's roots, there are several authors you must read: Birute Galdikas Dian Fosse Donald Johanson GHR Von Koenigsman Glen Isaacs Jared Diamond Ian Tattersell Lev Vygots […]
    Richard E. Leakey
  • Lucy: The Beginnings of Humankind July 24, 2011
    author: Donald C. Johanson name: Jacqui average rating: 4.10 book published: 1981 rating: 5 read at: date added: 2011/07/24 shelves: early-man, science review: I read this book when I was writing a paleo-historic drama of the life of earliest man. My characters were Homo habilines, but they cohabited Africa with Australopithecines, so to understand the co-st […]
    Donald C. Johanson
  • Through a Window: My Thirty Years with the Chimpanzees of Gombe July 24, 2011
    author: Jane Goodall name: Jacqui average rating: 4.26 book published: 1990 rating: 5 read at: date added: 2011/07/24 shelves: early-man, science review: I have read every book that Jane Goodall wrote. She has an easy-going writing style that shares scientific principals easily with the layman. Probably because when she started, she was little more than a no […]
    Jane Goodall
  • In the Shadow of Man July 24, 2011
    author: Jane Goodall name: Jacqui average rating: 4.33 book published: 1971 rating: 5 read at: date added: 2011/07/23 shelves: early-man, science review: I read Jane Goodall's In the Shadow of Man (Houghton Mifflin 1971) years ago as research for a paleo-historic novel I was writing. I needed background on the great apes so I could show them acting appr […]
    Jane Goodall
  • Timewalkers: The Prehistory of Global Colonization January 29, 2011
    author: Clive Gamble name: Jacqui average rating: 3.50 book published: 1993 rating: 4 read at: 2010/02/07 date added: 2011/01/28 shelves: early-man review: It's a difficult question. Why did earliest man leave Africa and migrate to new areas. Mostly, animals evolve suited to their environment and they don't stray far. They may have several areas th […]
    Clive Gamble
  • Gorillas in the Mist January 26, 2011
    author: Dian Fossey name: Jacqui average rating: 4.16 book published: 1983 rating: 5 read at: date added: 2011/01/25 shelves: early-man review: […]
    Dian Fossey
  • The Singing Neanderthals: The Origins of Music, Language, Mind, and Body January 26, 2011
    author: Steven Mithen name: Jacqui average rating: 3.76 book published: 2005 rating: 4 read at: 2009/07/28 date added: 2011/01/25 shelves: early-man, reference, research, science review: I have avoided this book in the past because my personal interest extends to an earlier time than Neanderthals, but I shouldn't have. The title is misleading in that he […]
    Steven Mithen
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