OUTSTANDING HIGHLY RECOMMENDED BOOKS ON WORLD PREHISTORY – PALEOONTOLOGY / PALEOANTHROPOLOGY -HISTORICAL AND EVOLUTIONARY BACKGROUND TO AFRICAN PREHISTORY

JANUARY 22 2014 LECTURE 3: WORLD PREHISTORY – HISTORY BEFORE WRITING WAS CREATED – HUMAN BIOLOGICAL AND CULTURAL HISTORY –

BACKGROUND TO AFRICAN PREHISTORY –

THE CONNECTION BETWEEN “THE HISTORY OF GEOLOGY” AND “THE HISTORY OF PALEOANTHROPOLOGY” –

“FOSSILS” AND “THE EVOLUTION OF HOMO SAPIENS SAPIENS IN AFRICA”:

===================================

VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED AS THE BACKGROUND TO AFRICAN PREHISTORY

ARE THE FOLLOWING THREE OUTSTANDING BOOKS:

(1) The Fossil Book: A Record Of Prehistoric Life (With Over 1500 Illustrations), Carroll Lane Fenton & Mildred Adams Fenton (The Classic Work For Fossil Collectors And Enthusiasts Revised And Expanded By Patricia Vickers Rich, Thomas Hewitt Rich, And Mildred Adams Fenton (Doubleday: New York, London, Toronto, Sydney, Auckland), 1958, 1989

(2) Ian Tattersall, The Human Odyssey: Four Million Years of Human Evolution (1993)
and
(3) Joseph Silk’s book A Short History of the Universe (Scientific American Library: A Division of HPHLP: New York), 1994
==================

(1) The Fossil Book: A Record of Prehistoric Life, indicated:

“The Fossil Book will take you on a journey through time, from today into the far distant past. It will show you how to recognize, care for, and interpret fossils that span more than three and a half billion years. Based on exhaustive research, this classic reference provides a unique glimpse of the habits and environments of ancient organisms on this planet—from single-celled microorganisms to the gargantuan lizard-hipped dinosaurs. Also included are a variety of forms that have left no survivors. You will meet: Reef-forming archaeocyathids – Predatory eurypteryids – Trilobites—animals in three parts – Graptolites—ancestors of the backboned animals – “Ammon’s Stones” and naked cephalopods – Flying and gliding reptiles – Hairy reptiles—mammal relatives on moving continents – Ancient angiosperms and the flowering of the Earth – Trunked and lion-like marsupials on the southern continents – Ancient man and the great Ice Age – and many others.

With over 1,500 photographs and drawings, this is the definitive guide to the fascinating life forms that have graced our Earth for the past few billion years.
“Imagine yourself crouching behind the massive trunk of an ancient pine tree in a cold polar forest of Alaska or Australia—watching a herd of small dinosaurs grazing in the moonlight. Or think of what it might be like to lazily paddle in a warm sea in central Kansas and startle a nautilus-like ammonite as it floats near the surface. It lets a cloud of black ink and darts away. Fossils of such animals allow us to travel back to the beginning of life on earth, more than three and a half billion years ago, when early single-celled organisms lived.

Fossils are not merely the bones and shells of prehistoric animals that have ‘turned to stone.’ They are also the footprints, tar-soaked skin, charred wood, and frozen flesh of a whole variety of once living animals and plants. They are objects that have fascinated us for thousands of years because of their beauty as well as the tales of the past they record.
In The Fossil Book, the authors breathe life into these now lifeless remains. Corals again grow on massive reefs which today recline across desert wastes, trilobites graze on an ancient sea floor, and saber-toothed tigers stalk a now extinct camel hopelessly mired in a water-covered tar seep of Southern California. More than 1,500 drawings and photographs, including exquisite panoramic illustrations, bring such extinct life into view.

Now revised and expanded, this is the definitive guide for both paleontologists and weekend fossil enthusiasts. It discusses what fossils are, where they have been found, how to find out more about them, how to care for them, and what can be learned from studying them. This edition contains greatly expaned chapters on vertebrates, a new chapter on plate tectonics, and updated classifications. The scope is now international: it covers not only North American fossils, but those of Asia, Europe, Australia, South America, Africa, and even Antarctica. Complete with identification keys, a glossary, and a listing of major paleontological collections. The Fossil Book remains an indispensable guide for anyone with an interest in fossils.

Carroll Lane Fenton and Mildred Adams Fenton first met at a Geological Society convention and went on to collaborate on many popular science books, including The Rock Book, Giants of Geology and several others for young readers. Simultaneousy they continued their research in invertebrate paleontology and published several professional papers in this area. Mildred Fenton is now retired and lives in New Brunswick, New Jersey. Patricia Vickers Rich is a lecturer in paleontology at Monash University in Australia. She has written and co-edited several books, including Kadimakara: The History of Australia’s Backboned Animals and numerous professional books on paleontology. Thomas Hewitt Rich is Curator of Vertebrate Paleontology at the Museum of Victoria in Australia. He is also the author of numerous professional articles on fossil mammalsand reptiles. Both of the Riches have carried out extensive fieldwork in North America and Australasia, and both received their Ph.D. degrees in geology from Columbia University. The Riches have two children and live in a country town near Melbourne, Australia.

(2) Ian Tattersall, The Human Odyssey, with a foreward by Donald Johanson, indicated:

“Why do some species survive while others fail? Where did humans first appear? How did early man survive the dramatic fluctuations of temperature during the last Ice Age? Did several species of early man co-exist? Captued in this handsome volume is the complex and fascinating story of man’s evolutionary past, from the earliest human ancestors to primitive cultures whose artistic cave paintings and artifacts inspire us even today.

Included here are: Accounts of all the significant fossil discoveries – Maps of significant fossil finds and sites of early cultures – The methods scientists use to examine and date fossil bones – More than 125 photographs and drawings of human fossils, tools, and artifacts – and much more.
Based on the new Hall of Human Biology and Evolution at the American Museum of Natural History
“Three and a half million years ago, two upright figures walked together across the Laetoli desert in Tanzania, Africa, their footsteps captured forever in volcanic ash. Were these remarkable footprints made by one of our earliest ancestors, and what can they tell us about the human evolutionary journey?
This is just one of the puzzles of the compelling story of human evolution explored in this volume. Based on the new Hall of Human Biology and Evolution at the American Museum of Natural History, the most extensive exhibition of the subject ever designed, The Human Odyssey examines how both significant fossil finds and startling new theories have been used by scientists to trace the path of human evolution.

Here are the stories behind such famous fossil discoveries as Giganthropithecus, the “Black Skull,” “Java Man,” and “Lucy,” and the surprising clues they reveal about the date and place of human origins.

Here too are the bold theories and controversies that have influenced the field of evolution, from the idea of natural selection put forth by Charles Darwin to the new role that DNA analysis plays in fossil research. Illustrated throughut with more than a hundred photographs, drawings, maps, and stunning artistic re-creations of early humans and their environment, The Human Odyssey is virtually a portable museum devoted to this fascinating subject.

Drawing from the latst research in both the laboratory and the field, it clearly illuminates some of the most provocative questions scientists have ever asked. Where did we come from, and how did we become what we are today?

Ian Tattersall received his Ph.D. in Geology and Geophysics from Yale University and has been a curator at the American Museum of Natural History in New York since 1971 and chairman of the Department of Anthropology since 1990. His articles have appeared in Nature, Scientific American, Natural History, and other journals and his books include the Encyclopedia of Human Evolution and Prehistory, of which he was co-editor, and The Myths of Human Evolution, with Niles Eldredge. He has hunted fossils and studied primates around the world and in 1974 he discovered a new lemur species in Madagascar, which was subsequently named Propithecus tattersalli.
He lives in New York City.

(3) Ian Tatteralll, The Fossil Trail: How we know what we think we know about human evolution (Oxford University Press: New York, Oxford (1995) had the following reviews:

“The richest and most comprehensive account to date of the thrilling quest to discover our ancestors. … Succeeds brrilli rilliantlyightening us about the varied scientific and intellectual frameworks in which the fossil evidence for human evolution has been interpreted. This superb book is a must for everyone interested in understanding the human story”

 Don Johanson, author of Ancestors: The Search for Our Human Origins and Lucy

“An incisive, fascinating story of the discovery and analysis of the fossil record of human evolution … Tattersall tells this, the greatest story ever told, beautifully. The Fossil Trail will prove to be a lasting contribution to our understanding of the human origins—and of how we have gone about figuring out our history.”

 Niles Eldredge, author of Fossils: The Evolution and Extinction of Species

“An unsurpassed, tour de force exposition of the growth of knowledge of the origins and evolutionary past of humankind. It constitutes an exceptional landmark in the literature of paleoanthropology .”

 F. Clark Howell, Laboratory for Human Evolutionary Studies, University of California, Berkeley

“One of the most remarkable fossil finds in history occurred in Laetoli, Tanzania, Africa, in 1974, when anthropologist Andrew Hill (diving to the ground to avoid a lump of elephant dung thrown by a colleague) came face to face with a set of ancient footprints captured in stone—the earliest recorded steps of our far-off human ancestors, some three million years old.

Today we can see a recreation of the making of the Laetoli footprints at the American Museum of Natural History, in a stunning diorama which depicts two of our human forebears walking side by side through a snowy landscape of volcanic ash. But how do we know what these three-million-year-old relatives looked like? How have we reconstructed the eons-long journey from our first ancient steps to where we stand today? In short, how do we know what we think we know about human evolution?
In The Fossil Trail, Ian Tattersall, the head of the Anthropology Department at the American Museum of Natural History, takes us on a sweeping tour of the study of human evolution, offering a colorful history of fossil discoveries and a revealing insider’s look at how these finds have been interpreted—and misinterpreted—through time.

All the major figures and the discoveries are here. We meet Lamarck and Cuvier and Darwin (we learn that Darwin’s theory of evolution, though a bombshell, was very congenial to a Victorian ethos of progress), right up to modern theorists such as Niles Eldredge and Stephen Jay Gould. Tattersall describes Dubois’s work in Java, the many discoveries in South Africa by pioneers such as Raymond Dart and Robert Broom, Louis and Mary Leakey’s work at Olduvai Gorge, Don Johanson’s famous discovery of “Lucy” (a 3.4 million-year-old female hominid, some 40% complete), and the more recent discovery of the “Turkana Boy,” even more complete than “Lucy” and remarkably similar to modern human skeleton.

He discusses the many techniques available to analyze finds, from fluorine analysis developed in the 1950s, it exposed Piltdown as a hoax) and radiocarbon dating to such techniques as electron spin resonance and the analysis of human mitochondrial DNA. He gives us a succinct picture of what we presently think our family tree looks like, with at least three genera and perhaps a dozen species through time (though he warns that this greatly underestimates the actual diversity of hominids over the past two million or so years).

And he paints a vvid insider’s portrait of paleoanthropology, the dogged work in the broiling sun, searching for a tooth or a fractured corner of bone amid stone litter and shadows, with no guarantee of ever finding anything. And perhaps most important, Tattersall looks at all these great researchers and discoveries within the context of their social and scientific milieu, to reveal the insidious ways that the received wisdom can shape how we interpret fossil findings, that what we expect to find colors our understanding of what we do find.

Refreshingly opinionated and vividly narrated, The Fossil Trail is the only book available to general readers that offers a full history of our study of human evolution. A fascinating story with intriguing turns along the way, this well illustrated volume is essential reading for anyone curious about our human origins.”

Advertisements

About Harold L Carter

Bachelor of Science, Columbia University Masters degree, Ohio State University Undergraduate National Officer, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Eastern Asst Vice President, when a student at Columbia University Profile Photograph: Mom & Me, when I was a graduate student
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s