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About the Author

Kermit Pattison is a journalist whose work has appeared in the New York Times, GQ, Fast Company, and Inc., among many other publications. He spent a decade doing research for Fossil Men and spending time in the field with the team that discovered Ardi. He lives in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Obras por Kermit Pattison


Conhecimento Comum

Data de nascimento
20th century
Locais de residência
Saint Paul, Minnesota, USA



This was the first book I have completed in audio format. The production was first rate. The format catered to my morning walks and morning drive to work.

The story was engrossing.

It hadn’t occurred to me before how many scientific disciplines are needed to recover, preserve, interpret, and disseminate the lessons of ancient — really ancient — remains of pre-homo sapiens species.

You need anthropologists, biologists, geologists, geneticists, experts in biomechanics to postulate the form of locomotion and physicists to carbon date the mineralized remains of animal bones. You need comparative biologists to analyze animal bones recovered in the same deposits as the bones of the primates recovered. And you need botanists to analyze ancient pollen and grasses to tell you something of the contemporary savanna, whether it was grassy or wooded or both. And you need anatomists to unravel whether the hominids could walk upright, climbed trees, or walked on branches. And for this you needed an understanding of modern primates.

The people who take on this work, in conditions unimaginable, are to be admired for their diligence, skill, and imagination.

These scientists had to tread carefully in the war zones of contemporary Ethiopia. And they trained local peoples to recover and interpret the antiquities themselves.

So much has changed in scholarship since Ardipithecus ramidus was discovered in 1994. I have learned so much in this book.

The hero of this saga, paleo-anthropologist Tim White, laments that fellow scientists rush to conclusions about the origins of homo sapiens long before all the evidence is in and analyzed.

Why is this, I asked myself.

Science seems determined to find the exact point where mankind diverged from animals, when we became different, when we became unique in the animal kingdom.

What if there isn’t such a point of divergence? What if we are more like animals than we like to believe? Or to turn that around: what if animals contain that grain of sentience that we prefer to believe only exists in humans?

If that were the case, we’d have to review our practice of industrialized slaughter of sentient beings like fish, fowl, sheep, pigs, and cattle.
… (mais)
MylesKesten | 7 outras críticas | Jan 23, 2024 |
Really enjoyed this exploration of some big personalities. The slight bias doesn't bother me, I enjoyed reading about everything that's happened since I left school and the reminder of what I disliked most about this field.
Kiramke | 7 outras críticas | Jun 27, 2023 |
Great report on recent research into hominid relationships, carried out in Ethiopia over the last 30 years. Turns out we (modern humans) are more similar to the ancient rootstock than are other modern primates such as chimpanzees, remarkable though those are in their own way.. at least that's a leading opinion for now.
dadward8 | 7 outras críticas | Apr 8, 2023 |
Another fascinating story about the bloodsport that is the science of investigation into the earliest origins of the human species. This account focuses on Tim White, a brilliant but very conflictive field researcher who repeatedly took a team into the Awash badlands in Ethiopia and found the Ardi skeleton, the oldest human ancestor who completely rewrote how palaeontologists see human origins. A well written balanced account, highly recommended.
Matt_B | 7 outras críticas | May 12, 2022 |



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