Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Lucy In the Sky With Diamonds: Lucy’s Legacy

--by Hanje Richards

I have long been fascinated with anthropology and archaeology. When I have had the opportunity I have taken classes and have read many books on a variety of subjects that are encompassed by these sciences. One of the most interesting to me is paleoanthropology, which is the study of the origins and predecessors of the present human species, using fossils and other remains.

Renowned paleoanthropologist Donald Johanson (with Kate Wong) has recently published a new book, Lucy’s Legacy: The Quest for Human Origins. “This book takes readers on a fascinating tour through the last three decades of study — the most exciting period of paleoanthropologic study so far. In that time, since the discovery of Lucy in 1974, Johanson and his colleagues have uncovered a total of 363 specimens of Australopithecus afarensis (Lucy’s species, a transitional creature between apes and humans), spanning 400,000 years.”

Donald S. Johanson founded the Institute of Human Origins in 1981, now located at Arizona State University in Tempe. Kate Wong has been covering human evolution for Scientific American for more than a decade.

In Lucy’s Legacy, the authors attempt to answer questions such as "How did Homo sapiens evolve? When and where did our species originate? What separates hominids from the apes? What was the nature of Neandertal and modern human encounters? What mysteries about human evolution remain to be solved?"

If these questions and other like them intrigue you, it may interest you to know that the Copper Queen Library has four other Donald Johanson titles in addition to Lucy’s Legacy (2009) (currently shelved on New Adult Non-Fiction at 569.9 JOHANSON). Three titles are upstairs in Non-Fiction: Lucy, The Beginnings of Humankind (1981) is shelved at 569 JOH; Journey From the Dawn: Life With the World’s First Family (1990) is at 573.3 JOH; Ancestors: In Search of Human Origins (1994) can be found at 573.30 JOH; and one title, From Lucy to Language (1996), is located on the Oversize shelves at 537.2 JOH.

If human origins fascinate you, reading our collection of Donald Johanson books would be a great place to start.