Origins Reconsidered: In Search of what Makes Us Human

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Doubleday, 1992 - Social Science - 375 pages
12 Reviews
In Origins Reconsidered, Richard Leakey, one of the most respected and influential scientists of our time, takes us on a brilliant and provocative journey through human history. Beginning with his landmark discoveries at Lake Turkana, and including his fascinating reassessment of how we became "human" - and what, after all, being human really means - Leakey concludes with a glimpse of what our evolutionary future may hold.
In 1984, Richard Leakey and his "Hominid Gang" of fossil hunters discovered fragments of a boy's skull that were more than 1.5 million years old. They soon unearthed virtually the entire skeleton of what was dubbed the "Turkana Boy" and recognized as one of the most significant paleoanthropological discoveries of all time.
But while his Turkana Boy caused a sensation in the media and throughout the world of science, Leakey himself was restless. Yes, the existing fossil record of our prehistory was impressive. But there were more elusive matters to consider.
For Richard Leakey the most compelling question is no longer "How did we physically evolve?" It is, instead, "How did we become human?" For this world-renowned paleoanthropologist it is a humbling reminder that no matter how complete the skeleton, how perfect the fossil, there is a gap in our knowledge. Our ancestors evolved from two-legged scavengers into creatures that create. They learned to make stone tools, to communicate, to build shelters, and to hunt for food.
This realization sparked Leakey to return to his earlier work - especially his 1977 book, Origins - to poke holes in his previous beliefs and to reflect anew on what makes us who we are. As he gently admits, considerations like these are usually left to philosophers, not scientists. But again and again, he is faced with his own guiding principle: "The past is the key to our future."
In this seminal work, Leakey incorporates ideas from philosophy, anthropology, molecular biology, and even linguistics, to investigate not only how we evolved anatomically, but how we acquired the qualities that make us human - consciousness, creativity, and culture.

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Review: Origins Reconsidered: In Search of What Makes Us Human

User Review  - Ken Hasner - Goodreads

As someone who has a great interest in evolution and how are ancestors lives and environments shaped the lives we lead today, this was a must read. This was a follow up book that builds upon the ... Read full review

Review: Origins Reconsidered: In Search of What Makes Us Human

User Review  - Sara - Goodreads

Read this in 1992 having recently read Lucy's Child by fellow (and sometimes rival) paleoanthropologist Don Johanson. My reading was that Johanson makes a better argument, but I enjoyed reading both sides. Read full review

Contents

In Search of the Turkana Boy 1 To West Turkana
3
A Giant Lake
26
The Turkana Boy
41
Copyright

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About the author (1992)

Leakey is the world's most famous living paleoanthropologist.

Roger Lewin is a prize-winning author and wrote the acclaimed Complexity: Life at the Edge of Chaos; recipient of the inaugural Lewis Thomas Award for excellence in the communication of life sciences; and the 1992 Award for contribution to issues in conservation by the Society of Conservation Biology. Between 1990 and 1993, he was a visiting professor in biology at Wayne State University, and an associate of the Peabody Museum, Harvard University from 1993 to 1998. He speaks frequently around the world at conferences on complexity science and business.

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