The First Human

The First Human by Anne Gibbons is about the search for the oldest hominid (or is it hominin?) fossils. It focuses on paleontology and the search for the earliest fossils close to the divergence of humans from the common ancestors of humans and chimpanzees. As such, it describes the fossils and our current understanding of them and does not deal with other related topics of human origin like genetics (more on that later in my review of Before the Dawn).

I was afraid the book might just be a catalog of facts: This fossil was found there by X on this date and so on. But it is much more interesting due to the way Anne Gibbons writes and organizes the facts. It also describes the disputes and the politics of the discipline of paleoanthropology and it seems like this is an acrimonious field.

John Hawks who makes a very brief appearance in the book also has a review on his weblog.

By Zack

Dad, gadget guy, bookworm, political animal, global nomad, cyclist, hiker, tennis player, photographer


  1. If one really thinks about it according to the evolutionary view there was no such thing as the first human given that one can never really draw a clear cut boundry between the ancestor species and the daughter species. Even if you take Stephen Gould’s punctuated equilibrium approach, in that case too the demarcation is not clear.

  2. For example some fossils are found in one place few resembling Chimpenzee and others human being then how one can say that human are convert of Chimpenzee ? These are all imagination-based theories. If there was any reality, it should have found some mention in any of the books revealed to different prophets.

  3. Why would God bless mankind with curiousity if he did not intend for us to explore the manifold mysteries of his universe?

  4. i’ll get the book for my dad, he loves to read up on such things and then explain it to me so i’ll get it second-hand. i’m grateful that both my parents are such avid readers and even more grateful that they then love to take the time to explain everything to my brothers and i; we have our book club the latifs =)

    i just found out my own religion the Baha’i faith, which i always thought very scientific etc.. has some queries on evolution. but then at the end of the day I don’t believe in Abdul Baha’ or the earlier/later manifestations because he was scientist but because they claimed to be men of God. For facts on evolutions I’d defer to Darwin on that one, now to convince the other 4,999,999 million other Baha’is. Wish me luck!

  5. Captain Arrrgh

    You are very right. We must explore the manifold mysteries of the universe remembering that all was created by God and also knowing what is written in the book revealed by him to Prophet.

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