New Theories on the Origin of the Human Race

New Theories on the Origins of the Human Race
by Christopher Lampton

(Illus.; from the New Theories series)
Franklin Watts Inc.
Bibliography; Index
JH-C, GA *


Order Online


Sometimes good things do come in small packages. Printed in large type for easy reading, and filled with excellent, brief explanations of evolutionary principles such as radiometric dating, molecular clocks, Linnaean taxonomy, and mutation, this concise, well-illustrated introductory text explains the most recent discoveries and interpretations in paleoanthropology. Far from being simplistic, the book is packed with information about the fossil and genetic evidence for the modern interpretation of human evolution. However, some inaccuracies spoil the overall effect: there is no evidence that Homo habilis cannibalized robust Australopithecines; chimpanzee skulls shown in the photo of Hadar remains are not fossils; and Mousterian stone tools had no known ritualistic function (but some Upper Paleolithic tools did). Also, the evolutionary trees showing relationships among fossil forms are inexplicably "rooted" in the air with their branches firmly "planted" on the ground, in contrast to the usual way of illustrating temporal dimensions in evolutionary trees. Among the suggested readings, Richard Dawkins's books represent the highly controversial sociobiological interpretation of human evolution and are not balanced by suggestions of other perspectives. To sum up--a neat little package, but use some caution upon opening.

--Reviewed by Anna Bellisari in Science Books and Films, 25/5 (May/June 1990), p. 258.