Saturday, January 8, 2011

Steoff, Rebecca. Origins

Steoff, Rebecca Origins
Marshall Cavendish/Benchmark 2010 112p 37.07
978-0-7614-4183-0 hs/adult E-BNS
Human:An Evolutionary History

Whoever thought that the evolution of man was as easy as looking at an ape was disillusioned as author Stefoff shows us in Origins. Who are our earliest ancestors? When did they first appear? Where did human evolution begin? These and many more questions are discussed in this book. Rebeca Stefoff introduces Origins with a definition and clarification of Darwin’s Theory of Evolution and proceeds to aptly present her data by offering the reader an amazing look at the origins of homo sapiens, or humans. Paleoanthropologists are very interested in the discovery that humans evolved alongside the chimpanzee; humans did not evolve FROM the chimp. They have learned that there were other species of humans, also. Stefoff examines the plethora of connections between species, provides information that has been gleaned from the study of fossils, most notably in Africa, and offers theories that will never be certain. With the advances in genetics and DNA analysis, we have learned a lot, but since fossils’ DNA is nonexistent, we can theorize only. The 6 chapters of this book are divided into a study of myths and misconceptions, a look at the primates, the division of the family known as hominid into great apes and humans, the discovery of Lucy by Johanson in 1973, a study of australopiths and a summary of human characteristics. It is in this last chapter that we learn that humans were bipedal long before they developed larger brains. This dispels previously held theories that humans evolved all at once. The reader will need a highlighter, a notebook and knowledge of how to classify information because this book contains so many details! Stefoff’s strength lies in her ability to take such a complex topic and make it user-friendly yet scientific. All of the charts and timelines aide the reader in navigating the millions of years of information, and the use of comparison diagrams enables the reader to see each discovery rather than attempt to visualize the information from the text. Stefoff provides a glossary of difficult terms and ends with a bibliography and an extensive listing of websites to consult for further information. This book is best for the high school library. Outstanding students of science at the middle school level could gather data from the book for a research project, but unless the reader can organize text, he/she will find the information to be too technical. Squaresky, Martha
contemporary theories,

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