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Africa: A Biography of the Continent
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BigRead2014-Africa: A Biography > Part 2: Humanity Emerging (Feb 3 - March 8)

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message 1: by Marieke, Former guide & Chief Chatterbox (new) - added it

Marieke | 2838 comments Mod

Feel free to begin discussing Part 2. I have not started reading this part yet but will shortly.

message 2: by Betty (new) - added it

Betty (olderthan18) An interesting chapter in Part 2 is about "thermoregulation", the condition of upright humans' maintaining bodily temperature so as not to dry out, not to overheat the brain, and not to limit foraging to nocturnal hours. "We have the most effective body cooling system of any mammal" (86) partly because there's less surface exposed to the sun.

message 3: by Muphyn (new) - added it

Muphyn | 816 comments Oh gosh, I'm behind!! This big, fat book really is a challenge! :)

Jenny (Reading Envy) (readingenvy) | 124 comments 10 million years worth of a veil of mystery over physical evidence of humanity's bi-pedal development. Astounding. So much of what we know is more of an educated guess? My grandma is an ardent Creationist and I know what *she* would say but what other explanation is there? Where did all the remains end up? Does it take an earth changing event (lava, earthquake, mudslide) to preserve the remains?

I'm trying to understand. I was a music major, not a scientist. :)

message 5: by Carolien (new)

Carolien (carolien_s) | 452 comments There are various reasons why the remains are fossilised so yes, there must be an environment to preserve the remains.

There's a display at Maropeng which shows why this fossil was preserved. Effectively he fell down a deep hole and as stuff then landed on his skeleton over time, the bones became fossilised.

The other fact is that these fossils will be in Africa somewhere, vast swathes of which have never been accessible for proper archaeological survey.

You may be interested in how Google maps is now being used to identify possible fossil sites in Africa

Mindy McAdams (macloo) | 20 comments I'm about to begin chapter 9, "Cooling Systems." I really LOVE this book! I have studied the Neanderthal and Cro-Magnon periods (well, mostly I have watched a couple of good documentaries on TV), but I've never seen this kind of bit-by-bit exposing of the fossil record for human ancestors. I feel like Reader tells us just the right amount about everything -- he doesn't overdo it, he doesn't go off on a long side track.

message 7: by Becki (new)

Becki | 2 comments I was the most interested in Homo erectus' dispersion across Africa and migration to what would become Asia and Europe. For me, it's a humbling moment when one thinks about how Homo sapians sapians are just one more step in the evolution of creatures experimenting with and furthering technology and intellect. As Reader was describing thermoregulation, I couldn't help but chuckle at how this Homo sapian sapian struggles to adapt to her region's subzero temperatures. *draws warm fluffy blanket tighter around her*

Hana I loved the section on Cooling Systems. Carolien, those are very interesting links!

For an updated assessment of the fossil records and DNA evidence Lone Survivors: How We Came to Be the Only Humans on Earth published in 2011 is excellent.

The latest wrinkle in the story is that migrations were not all in one direction. Not only were there humans migrating 'out of Africa', but there is now DNA evidence that migrations went in the opposite direction from Eurasia back to Africa even before agricultural times.

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