Christopher Beard, "The Hunt for the Dawn Monkey: Unearthing the Origins of Monkeys, Apes, and Humans"
University of California Press; 1 edition | 0520249860 | August 6, 2006 | PDF | 364 pages | 4,4 Mb

In recent years, paleontologists have feuded over the origins—long assumed to be African—of our very distant ancestors, the anthropoid primates. Fossil expert Beard presents his controversial case for Asia in this dense chronicle. Searching in central China for bones from the Eocene epoch, Beard's assistant Wen Chaohua, a local farmer, found an extraordinarily intact fossil jaw of the tiny prosimian Eosimias ("dawn monkey"). This jaw, Beard believes, will link small Asian primates such as tarsiers with the distant anthropoid ancestors of humans. Not exactly the Bigfoot-like missing link of popular imagination, but as Beard notes wryly, "The dirty little secret of paleoanthropology is that, while there are plenty of missing links, they don't occur where most people think they do." Knowing his findings will create an "academic brouhaha," Beard spends 300 pages building an intricate case for his tarsier theory. To establish context and popularize the subject, he describes the work of Georges Cuvier (1769–1832) and other noted paleontologists. But he also includes endless details about tiny skulls and their components, scientific conferences, global climate change hypotheses and the minutiae of Darwinist theory. Tales of harsh field expeditions make for good reading, and Beard's findings tell a startling scientific story, but information overload keeps this book from being suitable for most general readers. Illus.
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