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The Last Human: A Guide to Twenty-Two Species of Extinct Humans

3.97  ·  Rating Details ·  206 Ratings  ·  18 Reviews
This book tells the story of human evolution, the epic of Homo sapiens and its colorful precursors and relatives. The story begins in Africa, six to seven million years ago, and encompasses twenty known human species, of which Homo sapiens is the sole survivor. Illustrated with spectacular, three-dimensional scientific reconstructions portrayed in their natural habitat dev ...more
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published June 28th 2007 by Yale University Press
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Jubilation Lee
If you’re anything like me, friends, Clan of the Cave Bear not only served as a prepubescent introduction to sex (so much more helpful than my actual grade school sex ed class, where I learned that sex was like a man and a woman, standing in a river, holding a golden cup that was overflowing with their love, which I give full points to for being a beautiful metaphor but not so much for being a functional explanation about what the hell actually occurs) (but I digress) but also was the first time ...more
Captain Sir Roddy, R.N. (Ret.)
This is an amazing book! It is perhaps better characterized as a naturalist's 'Field Guide' to the history of the evolution of human species (i.e., the hominins). The authors present a relatively detailed synopsis of the current state-of-knowledge associated with each of the 22 hominin species portrayed in the book, starting with Sahelanthropus tchadensis and Ororrin tugenensis at about 6 million years ago, and then finishing up with anatomically modern humans, or Homo sapiens. Along with the ba ...more
Jul 22, 2012 Jerome rated it really liked it
This is an absolutely phenomenal overview of the 22 human/man-ape species that have been identified. They are accompanied by shockingly realistic photographs of carefully constructed models or crisp computer images. Great detail is included in regards to skull, skeleton, tools, diet, male/female differences, and location of fossil finds, along with fair commentary about the classification of the species (many appear to simply be slight variations of another species). The authors also composed a ...more
Jan 03, 2010 Sam rated it really liked it
A nice consistent treatment of what we know about the different hominims, with some creative imaginings of what daily life was like for each group at the beginning of each chapter.

The only reason I don't give it 5 stars is that the author doesn't include sources within the text.
Jun 22, 2010 Lauren rated it liked it
Recommends it for: anyone interested in human evolution
Shelves: archaeology
An ambitious undertaking in the field of human paleo-anthropology: recreating / re-imagining the daily lives of different species of early hominids as they started in Africa and migrated to Asia and Europe. It's got forwards and intros and various nods of approval from the big wigs in this field of research, so it seems like it was a very well-lauded effort to bring all of this information into one book. There are several model recreations in the book - which are quite stunning (based on cranial ...more
Alexandra Joy
May 25, 2011 Alexandra Joy rated it liked it
A guide useful for the student or enthusiast. Includes details of skull, teeth, diet, skeleton, fossil sites and range as well as tools, appearance, etc of each species. A book perhaps most useful as a reference source. Some extraneous information such as animals and habitat was not what I was expecting, but nice background.
Oct 15, 2016 Aaron rated it liked it
This was an excellent field guide style presentation about various known (in some cases barely known at the time of writing) Hominids. As such, it probably would benefit from guided readings or used as a supplement to other readings rather than just trying to power through it as I did. Still it was an interesting read as they broke down how each unique species was identified, often just by skull fragments, digits, and fragments of hips & long bones (Science!), their time period, climate, ani ...more
Ralph Hermansen
Feb 08, 2013 Ralph Hermansen rated it really liked it
"The Last Human" is worth owning as a reference guide to early humans, if for no other reason. The book is printed on thick high gloss paper and there are numerous color photographs within the book. The book contains essentially three sections per prehuman species discussed. First, there is usually a small fantasy story, which tries to help one see life as this creature saw it way back when. Second, there is a photograph of the creature as he/she might have looked when alive. Third, there is a d ...more
Jul 11, 2015 Sydney rated it it was ok
Fascinating information with a dull verbal presentation. The artistic renderings of what the various species may have looked like create an interesting linear presentation of hominid development. The accompanying text, however, contains multiple typos and is just plain snooze-inducing after awhile.

Each species is introduced with a fictional-yet-possible textual vignette. (These introductions and the artistry are the high points of the book.) Then each species has specific sections pertaining to
Apr 05, 2008 Barry added it
Shelves: science, evolution
An odd mixture of gorgeous photographs of meticulous and artful recreations of faces, short scenes of imagined events in their lives, and dry lists of what is actually known of each creature. Categories: Skull, Teeth, and Diet; Skeleton, Gait, and Posture; Fossil Sites and Possible Range; Age; Tools; Differences Between Males and Females; Animals and Habitats; Climate; Classification; and Historical Notes. It looks like a coffee table book, but reads like a monograph.

Sep 26, 2010 Charles rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfic-science
I give this one high marks for a lot of detail in discussing the various human and prehuman species, and doing a very good job dispelling commmon misconceptions about these species. I would have liked to have seen a little bit more narrative piecing together what we know about the relationships between the species, or at least what we speculate about them. This element was generally given short shrift. All in all, a good reference work, I though.
Sep 26, 2015 Mark rated it liked it
I just skimmed over a lot of the technical data concerning the research that had been done on each species. Most interesting for it's mock-ups of what each species would have looked like. It would also be very interesting to folks who are interested in the details concerning the current fossil evidence existing for each species and the history of its discovery and analysis.
Jun 08, 2010 Adam rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
There's some good information here, but the textbook-style presentation is a little staid. There's a PBS series called Becoming Human that covers the same information in a more engaging way and it answers more "how" questions than this book covers (which is focused more on answering "what" questions).
Mar 09, 2009 Pancha rated it it was ok
A summary view of the 20 species that preceded homo sapiens. I found the short historical notes at the end of each species section the most interesting, which discussed the finding of the first fossils, how it became accepted as a species, and in some cases the meaning of the assigned nomenclature.
Jul 28, 2011 Norm rated it really liked it
New from my favorite place on Earth- the American Museum of Natural History. This book was produced in conjunction with the recent remodel of the hall of human evolution. A beautiful beastiary of our extinct relatives, makes a fine companion piece to the Cambrdge Encyclopedia of Human Evolution. Everyone should own a copy, if only to piss off Sarah Palin
Feb 06, 2013 Denise rated it really liked it
Shelves: science, non-fiction
Bought this as a companion to Lone Survivors by Chris Stringer. Stringer's book is easier to tote around, Last Human has desirable layout, photos, and maps.
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