Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Lucy: The Beginnings of Humankind” as Want to Read:
Lucy: The Beginnings of Humankind
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Lucy: The Beginnings of Humankind

4.11  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,928 Ratings  ·  48 Reviews
“A glorious success…The science manages to be as exciting and spellbinding as the juiciest gossip” (San Franscisco Chronicle) in the story of the discovery of “Lucy”—the oldest, best-preserved skeleton of any erect-walking human ancestor ever found.

When Donald Johanson found a partical skeleton, approximately 3.5 million years old, in a remote region of Ethiopia in 1974, a
...more
Paperback, 416 pages
Published September 15th 1990 by Simon & Schuster (first published January 1st 1981)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Lucy, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Lucy

Collapse by Jared Diamond1491 by Charles C. MannThe Horse, the Wheel and Language by David W. AnthonyGuns, Germs, and Steel by Jared DiamondAfter the Ice by Steven Mithen
Popular Archaeology and Paleoanthropology
13th out of 303 books — 102 voters
The Origin of Species by Charles DarwinThe Selfish Gene by Richard DawkinsThe Greatest Show on Earth by Richard DawkinsThe Ancestor's Tale by Richard DawkinsWhy Evolution Is True by Jerry A. Coyne
Best Books on Evolution...
25th out of 156 books — 111 voters


More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Mark
Jan 03, 2016 Mark rated it really liked it

I saw "Lucy" at the Bowers Museum in Santa Ana a while ago. It was great to actually see this world famous skeleton of an Australopithecus Afarensis. Lucy is about 3.5 million years old and stood about three feet tall. So tiny!!
Kmorgenstern
Oct 26, 2011 Kmorgenstern rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book. Others have presented a good summery of what it is about, so I won't repeat it here. What I liked about this book was the very personal insight into the techniques and methods employed by paleontologists and the 'greater picture' of the evolution of that science with regards to its historical context and biases that have shaped it. Lucy is not the end of the line in that evolution and Johanson is well aware of it. More fossils have been found since and more theories h ...more
Jacqui
Jul 24, 2011 Jacqui rated it it was amazing
Shelves: early-man, science
I read this book when I was writing a paleo-historic drama of the life of earliest man. My characters were Homo habilines, but they cohabited Africa with Australopithecines, so to understand the co-stars of my story, I turned to the man who has become the guru of earliest man: Donald Johanson and his amazing find, Lucy.

In his book, Lucy: The Beginnings of Humankind (Touchstone Simon & Schuster 1990) Johanson and his co-author, Maitland Edey tell the fascinating tale of how they found Lucy, t
...more
Presley
Jul 25, 2009 Presley rated it liked it
Shelves: 11th-grade
This book revolves around the discovery of the fossil of the Australopithecus Afarensis, Lucy. It is told in the perspective of the man who discovered her, Donald Johanson. Along with the discovery of the oldest hominid fossil, the book also tells about other important archeological finds that contributed to the theory of evolution, such as the Homo Habilis finds at Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania and Homo Neanderthalensis remains in Shanidar Cave in Iraq and the famed Taung Baby. The book talked abo ...more
Philip
May 18, 2016 Philip rated it really liked it
Someone, somewhere must be working on a computer program that can measure and process the thousands of minute variations between hundreds of bones and fossils and conclude what the connections and links are between them. Such a program will save future paleoanthropologists thousands of hours of painstaking work that the author went through while deciding whether or not Lucy was our ancestor, only to be challenged publicly by a famous anthropologist and then having to write this exhaustively thor ...more
hamptonenglish10
Apr 04, 2013 hamptonenglish10 rated it liked it
Tyler Jankowski
Emmett English
4/4/2012

Lucy: The Beginnings of Humankind is the story behind the discovery of the oldest humanoid skeleton. This book was not written by the man who discovered Lucy, but a man who loved the skeleton and the history of how it was discovered. This book is a collection of the journal entries, quotes and actual information of the expedition. After The discovery of Lucy, the book begins to talk about the evolution of man. The book begins to tell where famous skeletons an
...more
Q-Rai
Nov 03, 2010 Q-Rai rated it liked it
Shelves: borrowed, educational
Originally, I started reading this to force myself to deal with anthropology - it was part of my Human Biology class and I needed to know about it for the exam. However, I didn't like the topic during the lecture - all those monkeys and humanoids were simply boring.
However, when I started reading this book, I could actually feel a lot of Johanson's excitement for his discoveries. The first few chapters are the most interesting ones and the exam is long written (and passed - partly thanks to this
...more
Karen
May 13, 2014 Karen rated it really liked it
A great read. I was surprised both by how clearly he was able to explain the science to non-scientists and how much it read like a story. I was really in suspense wondering if Lucy was a hominid and why she walked on two legs. I'd like to read more by Johanson, though I see his other books have different co-authors, so they might read very differently.
Gwen Veazey
Jan 18, 2014 Gwen Veazey rated it it was amazing
Loved this vivid and very readable account of fossil hunting in Ethiopia and the science and history of hominids. How intriguing that over 3 million years ago a 3 1/2 foot tall Australopithecus afarensis with such a small brain had some characteristics almost the same as modern humans - such as feet and teeth. She was dubbed Lucy because the paleoanthropologists in the field, notably author Donald Johanson, a Beatles fan, celebrated finding her singing "Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds" around thei ...more
Dylan
Mar 18, 2014 Dylan rated it really liked it
I had to read this for my biological anthropology course (which I recommend taking if you can) and I think that it was fairly enjoyable all things considered. There were some nice pictures and useful information. If you're interested in the subject this would be a good book to read.
David
Read this in high school and changed this course of my life for a few years. Lived in New Mexico and studied Archaeology. Fascinating book. Must be very dated by now, though. Quite amazing at the time.
Susan
Feb 17, 2014 Susan rated it really liked it
Read this 30 years ago, but still remember it was a wonderful book about the discovery of australopithecus. Anyone interested in physical anthropology will enjoy it.
Ian
Feb 13, 2014 Ian rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science
Read this book a long time ago, when I was young. A great read, well written, and informative.
Mark
Jul 31, 2007 Mark rated it liked it
Not a bad peek into the life and times of Don Johanson, the late 70s early 80s Don Johanson, discoverer of Lucy, sparrer with Leakey, namer of Australopithecus afarensis. The most wild and down-right ridiculous part of this book is when Johanson admits to grave-robbing the local cemetery (home to some of the relatives of his native guides) to acquire human leg bones in order to make comparisons between them and some recently found fossils
And after reading Johanson's case for Ramapithecus, could
...more
Nick Tredger
Jun 29, 2014 Nick Tredger rated it it was amazing
As exciting as any murder mystery and a revelation. Fascinating!
Ivano Lugiai
Dec 04, 2015 Ivano Lugiai rated it it was amazing
Bellissimo appassionato ed appassionante!
Sarah
Jan 17, 2008 Sarah rated it really liked it
Shelves: don-t-have-yet
Donald Johanson made me a believer. Reading his description of the hunt for hominids, I wanted to get out there and discover the bones with him. He makes a very good case for his Lucy- who was the first of a new species of hominid- Australopithecus afarensis. The book looks at Don's turbulent relationship with the Leakeys, as well as the troubles he had is getting funding and other troubles with governments etc. He gets into the science of how they dated Lucy, which is told in a way that the lay ...more
Ian
Nov 15, 2014 Ian rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own
Read it as a teen, and years later took a class at ASU with Dr. Johanson.
Sarahandus
Aug 30, 2014 Sarahandus rated it it was amazing
Shelves: paleontology
Absolutely fantastic! Reads like a mystery, you just can't put it down.
Emily Decobert
Nov 12, 2012 Emily Decobert rated it really liked it
This book was a great enjoyment. As a history major I loved the look into prehistoric humanity, but it is interesting enough for anyone who wants to know about the famous Lucy. Part historical lesson and part treasure hunt, the only problem I saw was I got lost a few times and had to read again for clarity. That may be more my fault than the book's! Also, it was written in the early 1980's and the field has made great advancments, so it's a good idea to read more modern books as well.
Jamest.
Jul 03, 2012 Jamest. rated it it was amazing
An insightful, compeling telling of the dicovery of one of our human ancestors from the dawn of humankind. This fast-paced, well-written tale reads more like a detective story than a dry work of science. Donald Johanson's crisp storytelling style makes this an incredibly interesting and enjoyable read for both the expert and novice alike. Edjucational, informative, and fun this book will be enjoyed by anyone who has ever asked; "Where do we come from?".
Ami
Jul 30, 2015 Ami rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this book. It was really fascinating to learn the history ( so far) of paleoanthropology, as well as the discovery and study of Lucy. I highly recommend this book for any fans of human origins and history.
Joe
Feb 26, 2007 Joe rated it it was amazing
This is perhaps my all-time favorite book. It is a fascinating story about human evolution and the most important anthropological discovery of the last century - the first upright walking pre-human skeleton. It gives a fascinating account of the discoveries, politics, and scientific fallout that shook the small and isolated scientific community of human archeologists.
Sue Bridehead (A Pseudonym)
An oldie but a goody. One of the most influential books on my life, ever, was the followup to this book, Lucy's Child, which I read at 16 or 17. After reading that book, Tim White and Don J. were my idols. I wish I'd kept that clear vision throughout my undergrad years. This remains the most exciting academic field I can think of.
Randy Rose
Dec 15, 2012 Randy Rose rated it it was ok
I might be the only physical anthro guy who really did not like this book. Johanson spends the first half of the book dissing everyone he has ever worked with. It was an unprofessional bitch session not befitting a respected scientist.

If you're going to read this, I suggest skipping to Chapter 7 (or Ch. 4 for the very patient).
Karen
Oct 21, 2011 Karen rated it really liked it
I first read this book when it first came out in the early 1980s. It's what got me hooked on paleonathropology. I didn't realize at the time how the field of study was just getting started. Thirty years later, the book stands up well, though naturally some of the science has been updated by recent discoveries.
Sudenly
Sep 04, 2014 Sudenly rated it it was amazing
Puedo decir que es uno de los libros más fascinantes que he leído, y no sólo por la temática sino la forma de abordarla. Está maravillosamente escrito y explicado, no es necesario tener un conocimiento previo muy profundo sobre la temática, cosa que le agrega puntos a favor. Excepcional.
Alyssa
Nov 24, 2012 Alyssa rated it it was amazing
I thought this book was really well written. It made learning a bunch of science facts entertaining and easy to understand. I also though that the chapters were designed so that if you only wanted to read that one chapter for some reason, you wouldn't be at a loss for understanding.
S.L. Hawke
Jan 13, 2013 S.L. Hawke rated it it was amazing
Made the live of a physical anthropologist sound like fun and inspired me to pursue education in said major.
It also captured the rivalry of the field once dominated by the Leakey Family and caught the unforgiving landscape of the site with dry humourous clarity.
Chris Curtis
Jan 24, 2008 Chris Curtis rated it really liked it
Among younger working mathematicians and scientists there is generally disdain for popular accounts of science. This is not without good reason. However, this book is fabulous, and I have been wishing I majored in anthropology ever since I read it. Excellent.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Origins
  • The Great Dinosaur Debate: New Theories Unlocking the Mystery of the Dinosaurs and Their Extinction
  • The Wisdom of the Bones: In Search of Human Origins
  • The Neandertal Enigma: Solving the Mystery of Human Origins
  • The First Human: The Race to Discover Our Earliest Ancestors
  • The Man in the Ice: The Discovery of a 5000-year-old Body Reveals the Secrets of the Stone Age
  • Becoming Human: Evolution and Human Uniqueness
  • The Last Human: A Guide to Twenty-Two Species of Extinct Humans
  • Life on Earth
  • The Flamingo's Smile: Reflections in Natural History
  • The Bog People: Iron-Age Man Preserved
  • The Humans Who Went Extinct: Why Neanderthals Died Out and We Survived
  • Digging Dinosaurs: The Search That Unraveled the Mystery of Baby Dinosaurs
  • Babywatching
  • African Exodus: The Origins of Modern Humanity
  • The Descent of Woman: The Classic Study of Evolution
  • Cro-Magnon: How the Ice Age Gave Birth to the First Modern Humans
  • Gods, Graves and Scholars: The Story of Archaeology
110328
Donald Carl Johanson is an American paleoanthropologist. He is known for discovering the fossil of a female hominin australopithecine known as "Lucy" in the Afar Triangle region of Hadar, Ethiopia.
More about Donald C. Johanson...

Share This Book