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The Link: Uncovering Our Earliest Ancestor

3.56  ·  Rating details ·  505 ratings  ·  108 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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The book started off well enough, but didn't really progress from there. The history of the Messel pit & how Ida died were very interesting. A 47 million year old fossil in such great condition, how it got that way, & it's journey to the museum are all fascinating.

Most of the middle of the book was taken up describing evolution & some detail about mammals & the anthropoids in particular. I've read better accounts since he skipped around & repeated himself a lot, but most do. The tree is bushy &
Jun 13, 2009 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 23, 2011 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.
"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
Apr 10, 2017 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Novices
This could be the positive review of a three-star book, or the negative review of a four-star book. I decided to go with a threefold opposable-thumbs up.

First, the bad news:
I should mention two major downfalls of the book: it's terribly redundant on the one hand, terribly overstretched on the other. That's two handfuls of excessive literary indulgence. Countless sentences are repeated three to four (or more) times, tens of pages apart, like unwelcome space fillers. It is all too obvious that the
Erik Graff
Aug 17, 2010 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
David Corleto-Bales
Aug 18, 2009 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
Sep 20, 2012 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
Nov 21, 2018 rated it liked it
This book was quick and easy-to-read, if at times a little dry, but offered a glimpse at life on Earth 47 million years ago and the short life of the most complete primate fossil discovered, nicknamed Ida. At times, I find world history rather bland simply due to its expansiveness and I found that this book tried to do too much with such a limited scope. It is clear that the authors deal in the field of science, because the structure of this book was sorely lacking and is not like the majority o ...more
Jeanette Lukens
Dec 31, 2017 rated it liked it
This was an interesting book about our possible common ancestor with other primates. I'm not sure, however, it merited an entire book. It seems like an in-depth article would have been more appropriate. ...more
Jul 02, 2009 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 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 23, 2009 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
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.
Nov 28, 2009 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.
Sep 20, 2012 rated it really liked it
If you like evolution, this was interesting. The first few chapters were incredibly entertaining. The last chapters were very technical and informative but less enjoyable than the first half of the book. The evolution of grass and global warming aspects of the book were fantastic!!!
Dec 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Ida: the 47 m.y. fossil used to live in the Eocene era. When it was hot, who was resting all that time in the Messel pit lake after breathing the toxic gas from the lake while trying to drink water. Ida Didn't show anatomic evidence for the bacculum or the penis bone. It is excited it Gorillas and chimpanzees but not in human. Didn't possess the tooth comb, a set of long,flat,forward -angled teeth in the lower jaw that are present at birth. The Lemur has them. Ida doesn't possess the grooming cl ...more
Jojo Hubbard
May 04, 2021 rated it liked it
I ended up giving this a 3 star rating. It should be noted that I read this via audiobook while I was working at my deskjob and doing chores around the house.

Overall, this is the story of Ida, a primate that is near perfect evidence of a transitional species between ancient and modern apes/primates/monkeys, what have you. It details the discovery of Ida, some of the controversy around her discovery, conservation of archaeological and paleontological sites, the evolution/differences in monkeys a
Russell Kapryn
Apr 14, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Most of the reviews for this book are right on and accurate (the main exception being that Ida was discovered in 1983 and not in the 1960's and 1970's as some reviewers have written) so I will spare repeating what has already been said in detail by others. I would just like to point out that the author's perspective and explanation on the mysteries of the fossil record dating to before, during and after Ida's time is rather fascinating and logical.

Specifically, the author goes into detail at ho
Jun 12, 2018 rated it it was ok
I'm not sure it I'll wind up writing a full review of this one, seeing as I primarily review fiction and I'm juggling quite a few of those at the moment... long story short: this was about twice as long as it needed to be to get the information across and, I would argue, premature when it came out. There wasn't really enough detailed information about the find available to make a 200+ page book compelling. The context of the find was made clear, and the possible history but... outside of that, t ...more
May 23, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: audiobook, 2018
First off, the theory that the book raises, that Ida is a missing link in human evolutionary chain, has been debunked. But the book is still interesting as it goes over life in the Eocene, about 40ish million years ago, just after the dinosaurs died out. I always enjoy hearing the theories about what the earth looked like before it was inhabited by the Homo genus. The author does a good job of going over what the earth was like at the time, going over geology, flora, and fauna, and then discussi ...more
Tony Phillips
Aug 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Brilliant writing by Tudge, making scientific knowledge accessible to the man in the street. This is the second book I've owned and read by Colin, and the other (The Day Before Yesterday) was equally readable and super interesting to anyone with an open mind and a thirst for knowledge of how we came to be. ...more
A fast moving and easily understood read about a fossil which may be a chain in our missing ancestral link. Not only do you get some great info about fossilisation and species classification, but you also get a great introduction to geology and it's effects on our planet's floral and fauna over tens of millions of years. A great book to start with if you're interested in these topics. ...more
Mar 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
Everyman should read this
Leigh Houston
Interesting discovery. Points are well made but very redundant. Later research proved many conclusions to be incorrect.
Dan Carpenter
Aug 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
It was a bit repetitive at times but the content was interesting.
Chris Brimmer
Sep 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biology
Solid science writing, keeps the basics entertaining enough for the better informed to stay engaged while bringing the less knowledgeable up to speed.
James Biser
Sep 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2020
This is a good book about an ancient hominid that we previously did not know existed. It is referred to as Ida, and its discovery and explanation is well told. This is a good and informative book.
Apr 05, 2021 rated it it was amazing
This book is very helpful for people who want to discover more about human evolution. Lots of thorough information.
I'll definitely be keeping this one on my book-shelf as a reference book.
Niki Belter
Mar 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
good read for archaeology nerds.
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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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