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Extended Audio Sample The First Human: The Race to Discover Our Earliest Ancestors, by Ann Gibbons Click for printable size audiobook cover
0 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 5 0.00 (0 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Ann Gibbons Narrator: Renée Raudma Publisher: Tantor Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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The quest to find where and when the earliest human ancestors first appeared is one of the most exciting and challenging of all scientific pursuits. The First Human is the story of four international teams obsessed with solving the mystery of human evolution and of the intense rivalries that propel them.

An award-winning science writer, Ann Gibbons introduces the various maverick fossil hunters and describes their most significant discoveries in Africa. There is Tim White, the irreverent and brilliant Californian whose team discovered the partial skeleton of a primate that lived more than 4.4 million years ago in Ethiopia. If White can prove that it was hominid—an ancestor of humans and not of chimpanzees or other great apes—he can lay claim to discovering the oldest known member of the human family. As White painstakingly prepares the bones, the French paleontologist Michel Brunet comes forth with another, even more startling find. Well known for his work in the most remote and hostile locations, Brunet and his team uncover a stunning skull in Chad that could set the date of the beginnings of humankind to almost seven million years ago. Two other groups—one led by the zoologist Meave Leakey, the other by the British geologist Martin Pickford and his partner, Brigitte Senut, a French paleontologist—enter the race with landmark discoveries of other fossils vying for the status of the first human ancestor.

Through scrupulous research and vivid first-person reporting, The First Human takes readers behind the scenes to reveal the intense challenges of fossil hunting on a grand competitive scale.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Gibbons makes it accessible and interesting enough for any reader. For those already interested in paleontology or anthropology, this book is a perfect companion. For those new to the field, expect to learn a lot about fossils and the history of humans.”


  • “A deft account-part detective story, part adventure tale-of recent breakthroughs in the search for human origins…Gibbons provides for everyone else an evocative examination of what we know about where, when, and why our species arose—indeed, what first made us human. Expert science reportage larded with an unexpected dose of intrigue.”

    Kirkus Reviews

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About the Author

Ann Gibbons has been the primary writer on human evolution for Science magazine for more than a decade. She has taught science writing at Carnegie Mellon University. She has been a Knight Science Journalism Fellow at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a Science Journalism Fellow at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Massachusetts. Ann lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.