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The Link: Uncovering Our Earliest Ancestor

3.48  ·  Rating Details  ·  354 Ratings  ·  83 Reviews
For more than a century, scientists have raced to unravel the human family tree and have grappled with its complications. Now, with an astonishing new discovery, everything we thought we knew about primate origins could change. Lying inside a high-security vault, deep within the heart of one of the world's leading natural history museums, is the scientific find of a lifeti ...more
Hardcover, 262 pages
Published May 20th 2009 by Little, Brown & Company (first published January 1st 2009)
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Community Reviews

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Sarah ~
Nov 02, 2014 Sarah ~ rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2013, science
يبدأ هذا الكتاب المميز بعالم يُعرض عليه شراء أحفورة من قبل وسيط وبائع لا يريد الكشف عن هويته ..
بداية مشوقة بالنسبة لكتاب دسم .. في الصفحات المئة الأولى لم استطع أن أضع الكتاب من يدي .


عثر على أحفورة - مستحاثة كاملة في حفرة ميسيل بـ ألمانيا عرفت لاحقا باسم آيدا ..
وتعد الأحفورة الوحيدة المكتملة من الرئيسيات التي تمَ اكتشافها عبر العصور ..
عثر على الأحفورة بواسطة أحد الهواة عام 1983 في محمية (ميسيل بيت) المدرجة على قائمة التراث العالمي وهي كهف حجري مهجور جنوب شرقي فرانكفورت حيث عثر على العديد من
Jul 30, 2009 Craig rated it it was ok
First, the negatives: 90% of this book consists of slopped-together summaries of what is already known about paleoprimatology, and most of the other 10% reads like a repetitive blog entry about the lives of these noble scientists as they embark on their mission to study this fossil skeleton. Actual information about Ida is sorely lacking, and what little there is seems to be designed mainly to exaggerate the importance of this find, with a common tactic being to denigrate other fossil specimens ...more
Max Wilson
Aug 28, 2011 Max Wilson rated it it was amazing

A shared ancester with Chimpanzees that is less than 47 million years old should be freaking people out more. I don't think people get it. Forget about the religious quacks - this is making a bunch of Anthropologists nervous.
David Bales
Aug 18, 2009 David Bales rated it it was amazing
When I was in the American Museum of Natural History last month they were heavily promoting this book, so I got it out from the library. It's about the strange fossil found in the Messel coal pit in Germany in the 1960s, a brilliantly detailed 47 million year old early primate that seems to make a decisive link between the earliest mammals and humans. In private hands until the last few years when it was put up for sale at the Hamburg fossil show and purchased by the Natural History Museum of Os ...more
"For those who like paleontology but are not be scientists in the field, this book offers a unique look into the study of paleontology, the search for fossils and just what fossil finds entail for the scientists involved. Mr. Tudge does a great job of setting the backdrop and explaining in fairly easy-to-understand terminology what this find means for scientists throughout the world. He takes roughly 150 of the 250 pages of the book to explain what the earth was like both before and after Ida wa ...more
Sep 20, 2012 David rated it liked it
This book is about "Ida", the oldest primate fossil ever discovered. At 47 million years old, it is 43 million years older than the next oldest primate fossil, "Lucy". Ida was discovered in the 1970's in Germany, and kept privately until just a few years ago. Then it was sold for a million dollars to the Natural History Museum of Oslo, where it has been receiving considerable attention by scientists.

This remarkable fossil find deserves a lot of attention, because Ida's fossil skeleton is 95% com
Ethar Mahmoud
Apr 22, 2015 Ethar Mahmoud rated it liked it
هو كتاب علمى درجة أولى بالرغم من محاولات الكاتب المستميتة والواضحة ف تبسيط المعلومات بس الموضوع فعلا صعب

بيجمع بين علم الأنثروبولوجى والحفريات وبيتكلم فالعموم عن حفرية مكتشفة حديثا اسمها (إيدا) تعتبر إحدى الحلقات المفقودة ف سجل الحفريات وبشكل خاص سجل الرئيسيات ومدى أهمية كده فارتباط السجل ده بنشأة الإنسان

الحفرية مش من الأسلاف المباشرة للبشر ....بس أصلا وجود حفرية بتمثل حلقة مفقودة بين مجموعتين من الرئيسيات يعنى عندها صفات مشتركة من الاتنين دى حاجة عظيمة فعلا
اللى بيزيد عظمة الاكتشاف هو حاجتين :
فاطمة الابراهيم
لا أدري من أين أبدأ ..!
هذا الكتاب قرأته من قبل ثلاثة أشهر ، وفي كل مره أود الكتابة عنه أتقاعس عن فعل ذلك !

في أواخر القرن التاسع عشر - 1875م - وفي حفرة ميسيل تحديداً تم العثور على كائن غريب ليتوصل أحد العلماء إلى فك الشفرة أو كما أسماها بـ " الحلقة المفقودة " لمعرفة أصلنا البشري ..!

فيما مضى عُد إكتشاف " لوسي " التي احدثت ضجة علمية عالمية ، كون أنها أولى الرئيسيات التي تسير منتصبة القامة ، إلا أنها لم تتفوق على الاكتشاف الذي عُثر عليه في ألمانيا في حفرة تحت ظروف فريدة جداً مكنتها بالاحتفاظ بهيكل
Jul 02, 2009 Jeffrey rated it it was amazing
Shelves: current-events
Subtitled Uncovering Our Earliest Ancestor, the book was released with the public announcement of the so-called missing link discovery. It seems that a fossil poacher had discovered a find of such unique historical value that the world must now be given proof of the newest Darwinian twist.
As most educated people know, Darwin developed his theory of Evolution. It has been suggested that man and apes share a common ancestor and IDA, the fossil discussed in the book may very well be that link. Writ
Jan 18, 2010 Mattie rated it liked it
Very cool report on an amazing find - a nearly fully-intact fossil of a 47 million year old primate. Tudge does a great job of walking the reader through enough basic paleontology to understand the importance of "Ida" (as she has been dubbed) to both our understanding of our own biological history and to the profession of paleontology. Armed with this 200 pages of background knowledge, I was really looking forward to a detailled discussion of Ida and where she fits in. Unfortunately, there's onl ...more
May 28, 2009 Lue rated it did not like it
Colin Tudge's The Link is a shameful grab for money, in my opinion. For three-fifths of the book, the eocene and primate evolution are detailed in repetitive prose that, because of its repetitive nature, lacks clarity in its descriptions of anything related to the importance of the paleontological find. The description of Ida is sorely lacking in any details and the illustraions (what few there are) lack any real captions to put them in context for the reader. Tudge should have waited for more d ...more
Mar 17, 2014 Stella rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction

Before 1988 the government of Hessin (Germany) wanted to use the Lake Messel Fossil site as a Garbage dump. Now it is on the World Heritage List of Unesco.

Ida was found illegally in 1980 by a private fossil hunter. Then sold.

This scientist attributes the global change to humanity's behavior on Earth. There is much discussion on the changing temperature due to Continental Drift. That was a very interesting discussion that t
This book took me so long to read that I actually forgot half the material it discussed. While, there were some interesting points, it spent so much time reviewing background information that by the time it got around to discussing Ida, there were only two chapters left. The background information was mostly new to me, so I could glean some interest, but I imagine it would be very boring for someone with more familiarity with the materiall.
Joseph M. O'Connor
A sure cure for insomnia...

Mr. Trudge has managed to take a subject full of promise and turn it into a mind-numbing tour-de-force of the Eocene as dense and impenetrable as the matter in a neutron star. Were I to imitate Mr. Tudge's style at this point I would tell you we must go back to the beginning and discuss the creation of the universe before discussing star formation, then star death, then all the conditions needed to form a neutron star. BORING!

I LOVE popularized science. I can't get eno
Oct 27, 2014 Cara rated it liked it
I don't share the same passion for the evolutionary history of humankind that Colin Tudge does (and apparently also his coauthor, who wrote the majority of the book but isn't even credited on the cover, wtf is up with that?). So, not to lie, I did at times find this rather boring. I didn't, and still don't, see why the discovery of Ida, a very early primate, is all that exciting. But apparently it is very exciting to the authors, and at times their passion managed to infect me, though not for ve ...more
No Remorse
Nov 30, 2009 No Remorse rated it really liked it
It is true that a lot of this book is not about the 47 million year old fossil Ida, but still a great book. What is written about Ida is very fascinating. Enjoyed reading about all of the different fossils that have been found, great history on the messil pit in Germany etc. This book covers a ton of stuff. Great high quality photos as well.

Written on my iPhone. Keeping it short.
Oct 25, 2014 DrFlipper rated it did not like it
This book seemed promising at the start, but I soon felt betrayed as if confronted by a used car salesman. The book is a big PR-scam in my eyes, giving undeserved status to a newly found fossil as being the one key missing link that finally solves the mystery of evolution leading up to our own species. Yes, it is no doubt a very interesting fossil, but no it is not a magic find that stands out way ahead of many other interesting fossils. Even the subtitle "Uncovering our earliest ancestor" gives ...more
Sep 15, 2009 Erin rated it it was amazing
“In the glow of the gibbous moon, a petite being moves through the palm trees surrounding a lake that seems almost impossibly pristine…This is Ida…”

Ida is an early primate from the tropical land of Germany 47 million years ago. She is also the most essential archeological find in the history of evolutionary investigation. Ida is a rare creature…a complete fossil. And she is also the common ancestor of both the prosimians (primates such as Lemurs and Tarsiers) and the anthropoids (the simians: mo
Aug 11, 2012 Ron rated it it was ok
Condescendingly pedantic on about a 5th grade level of literacy--elevated from the 3rd grade only by the vocabulary necessary to the field--Tudge bores us to death for more than 2/3s of the book with a simplistic overview of those anthropology and archaeology 101 courses we took so long ago. Our author also has a bad habit of beginning sentences with 'and'--and other construction words that should remain in the middle--as well as littering his prose with an enormous amount of parens. His real si ...more
Tanja Berg
Jan 28, 2012 Tanja Berg rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science, evolution
Any perfectly preserved 47-million old fossil of a mammal would be a sensation. When it also could be one of the first primate species to ever walk the earth, even more so. There are few primate fossils and "Ida" is 43 million years older than "Lucy". It is astounding, to say the least. How "Ida" was found and brought into the light of science is an interesting story well worth reading. That's about the first 50 pages of this book. The rest delves on the Messel cave where the Ida fossil was foun ...more
Alyce (At Home With Books)
Upon finishing The Link my first thought was that I could easily divide it into the interesting parts (at the beginning and the end) and the boring and dry (the middle). Then I read the acknowledgments at the end of the book and discovered that it was written by two authors and one of them wrote the parts I liked, the other wrote the dry middle section.

I think the authors really missed an opportunity with this book. I say that because it has a lot of information that could have made for a compel
Erik Graff
Apr 11, 2012 Erik Graff rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Primate evolution fans
Recommended to Erik by: GoodReads
Shelves: sciences
This is the first book I've received of the review copies offered by GoodReads and, as such, I felt obligated to read and review it immediately upon receipt.

Unlike many coauthored books, Tudge and Young divided their work by subject, Tudge, the science writer, taking up the scientific issues, Young, the history of the discovery, its acquisition by the University of Oslo and its impact. Despite this, there is no glaring change of voice between chapters. One presumes some effective editorial overs
In my area of study of archaeology and geology, I'd like to say that I have a shallow grasp on the subject of palaeontology. Tudge's writing of the subject definitely widened my grasp, if not deepened it a little. Here is a brief overview of the book, and my thoughts on the chapters or chunks of chapters.

The first two chapters are about the discovery and acquisition of Ida. I really liked how these chapters put a personal edge on the field of palaeontology. I learnt quite a bit about the legali
Alex Telander
Nov 17, 2009 Alex Telander rated it it was ok
Posted with permission from the Sacramento Book Review

In what was touted to be a publication so astounding that it required specially sealed boxes with “untitled” printed on the side and a very specific laydown date, The Link: Uncovering Our Earliest Ancestor didn’t lead a revolution in science or shock the world as much as expected. The book begins with a hypothetical story of how a lemur-like creature some 55-33 millions years ago was gassed at a lake sitting on top of a volcano, dropped into
Jim Good
Sep 20, 2010 Jim Good rated it really liked it
Ostensibly about the fossil named Ida found in the Messel fossil pit in Germany that is called a possible 47 million-year-old ancestor to homosapiens. Tudge uses Ida to tell the story of the time when the fossil was formed, the means by which it got formed, the fossil collectors and how it came into public view, the evolutionary patterns of species, and why it may be a branch of human evolution.

The book is at it’s best when describing the time and method of Ida’s forming. The changes in climate
Bonita Brin
Aug 18, 2010 Bonita Brin rated it really liked it

I won this book from Goodreads. I know just a little about the various "missing links" found around the world. But I have never heard of Ida and the era in which she lived 47 million ago during the Middle Eocene. The reason why Ida is such an important find is that her skeleton is one of the most complete specimans ever discovered near Frankurt, Germany,near a town called Messel.

Ida's world was a rain forest with a lake full of algae.As the surface algae died, ithey sank to the bottom and turn
Jean Doolittle
Jan 19, 2014 Jean Doolittle rated it it was ok
I am not a paleontologist, an anatomist or a biologist and thus an unable to determine if the science is accurate--from other reviews I've read, it appears that the fossil is an amazing find, because of its completeness and that much could be learned from studying it, but that calling it "the Link" is overblown. I was impressed by what I learned and tried to assimilate about the study of ancient fossils and how a picture of a world long gone can be rebuilt from small clues. The fossil record rev ...more
Cassandra Kay Silva
Jul 01, 2011 Cassandra Kay Silva rated it really liked it
Shelves: science
The subject matter was good. Why did the author not focus more on the Ida skeleton though? I think the build up was backward, he should have presented the relative nature of the skeleton, gone into depth on the skeleton and what each part means and then maybe branched into explaining how it fits into our views of the past. Instead he opens beautifully with a very wonderfully described portion detailing what Idas life and surroundings may have entailed and then went into the bulk of paleontology ...more
Oct 04, 2009 Melissa rated it liked it
If you were looking for 250 pages of discussion about Ida, you'll be disappointed. While there is particular attention paid to Ida's discovery and what she means to human evolution a large, central chunk of the books is devoted to explaining the whole of evolutionary history and how paleontologists do their jobs. Interesting, if you had no idea what any of it meant but to a biologist it's pretty boring (two classes on evolutionary biology will do that to you). I would have preferred a more in de ...more
Feb 21, 2015 Noelle rated it it was ok
Shelves: science
Thankfully I bought this book at a very discounted rate, it was a rather disappointing read. The information was highly repetitive and focused heavily on tangential information rather than the book's namesake. Maybe one-fourth of the book was about the fossil, Ida. I'm not very familiar with paleontology, and specifically not paleoprimatology. Therefore, I did learn a bit from this book, so it wasn't a complete loss.

Let me preface this next part with, I know this is dumb and not a logical reason
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Colin Tudge was educated at Dulwich College, 1954-61; and read zoology at Peterhouse, Cambridge, 1962-65.

Since 1965 he has worked on journals such as World Medicine, New Scientist and Pan, the newspaper of the World Food Conference held in Rome, 1974.

Ever since then he has earned a living by spasmodic broadcasting and a lot of writing—mainly books these days, but with occasional articles. He has
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