Gillian's Reviews > Born in Africa: The Quest for the Origins of Humankind

Born in Africa by Martin Meredith
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's review
Oct 11, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: 2011-reads, non-fiction
Read from October 11 to 14, 2011

This was wonderful, giving a broad overview of exactly what the title says: the quest for the origins of human life.
I loved "Lucy's Child" by Donald Johanson, who gets more than a mention here, but that was just one specific part of the quest, in one area of Africa. I had no idea how much of Africa had yielded fossil treasures nor that the trail went so far back into history. It's mind-boggling how science today can pinpoint how old a shard of bone is, and build up a human skeleton, and then extrapolate from that to what ancient man ate, how we lived, and died and so much more.
As the timeline progresses, it also becomes clear what a competitive field paleoanthropology is and how cut-throat the academics are, each claiming that their discovery is more or less the "missing link" to end all debate.
Living on the south eastern tip of Africa, I also was unaware of how much South Africa and the Southern and Eastern Cape in particular had to reveal. Would now love to visit Blombos Cave at Still Bay and head off to the Karoo to fossick for fossils!

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