978-0-387-98742-2 / 9780387987422

Adventures in the Bone Trade: The Race to Discover Human Ancestors in Ethiopia's Afar Depression





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About the book:

In November 1974 sixty-three pieces of bone from a small and very ancient human relative were found near Hadar in Ethiopia. They became world renowned as Lucy, some 3 million years old and at that time the oldest upright walking human relative. Adventures in the Bone Trade tells one man's story of the trials and tribulations of trying to work out the Ethiopian geological setting to some of the major anthropological finds of the century, such as Lucy. It is not the first time that Lucy's story has been told but it is the first time we have heard Jon Kalb's version. If you read Johanson's 1981 book Lucy: The beginnings of humankind, Kalb barely gets a mention and is effectively written out of the story. But as Kalb laconically quotes, "there was something rotten in Denmark", and he goes on to tell his side of the story.

Kalb, an American geologist long fascinated by the geology of the Afar region of north-east Africa, set up home in Ethiopia with his young family in 1971. As he lucidly explains, he was intrigued by the complexities of how the three tectonic plates of the region are breaking apart to form a new ocean and why the fossil remains of our early relatives are found there. Kalb's book could well have been titled Bone Wars but it has already been over-used in relation to the bitter rivalry of the early dinosaur hunters in America. As Kalb reveals in this fascinating inside story of the intrigues between the main players of the time, the competition to find our ancient human relatives has been just as fierce. With maps, photos, notes, extensive bibliography, glossary and excellent index, Kalb's compelling account is a serious attempt to set the record straight. --Douglas Palmer

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