The First Human: The Race to Discover Our Earliest Ancestors by Ann Gibbons
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
(From my review on Goodreads)
”A wonderful, balanced, and accurate account of the search for the oldest human ancestors…Gibbons provides a window into the house of horrors that can be human origins research” That’s the cover review from Science, which also happens to be her main employer.
A fun, quick overview of the “battles” to find early ancestors. But is it really “Balanced”? Not exactly – she seems to get a little humid in the undies when writing about Richard Leakey or Tim White, painting either of them as dashing paleo-studs holding the vanguard of East African evolution research.
While it rides a lot of over-traveled roads (more Louie Leakey and Nutcracker Man…yee freakin’ haw) what makes this one worth reading, if you’re into the history of paleoanthropology, is that it offers up some coverage of the discoveries of Sahelanthropus tchadensis (Toumai), Orrorin tugenensis and Ardipithecus kadabba – all of which have relatively low coverage in popular books. And you can blaze through the easy, journalistic style writing in no time at all.