With Giants and A Gallery of Dinosaurs already vacating late-1980s bookstore shelves, “From the Beginning – The Story of Human Evolution” became my third book in 1991. Publishers are always looking for novelty. I thought this might fill the bill and answer a few Creationist objections. It would also answer the age-old questions, “how did we get here?” and “when did I lose my tail?”
the people most interested in human evolution are against it (about 44% of today’s Americans).
The evolution of humans from primates and anthropoids had been well covered by others, notably Jay Matternes and Louis Leakey in National Geographic! But what animals came before the hominids, anthropoids and primates?
Mark Hallett’s illustrated therapsid family tree actually turned me on to the whole subject of paleontology a few years earlier.
Family trees are bushy
and I wanted to focus precisely on ‘the ladder’ of succeeding organisms closest to the actual lineage of humans, ignoring, as much as possible, birds, turtles, etc. etc. It seemed to me that nothing complete from this specific genre had been illustrated since, well, basically since the time of Haeckel, Darwin and Huxley.
From The Beginning, The Story of Human Evolution (Peters 1991, 128 pp.) appeared without much fanfare, other than a whirlwind media tour around St. Louis, my hometown. Now the book can only and occasionally be found at Amazon.com. Some nice comments are posted there.
From ‘little acorns,’ like this,
ReptileEvolution.com arose. And that website has been vastly more popular and accessible than the book ever was…until now.
Now From the Beginning is available as a PDF file (11Mb). If you missed it earlier or can’t find it on your library shelves, you can read it here. I own the copyright. Feel free to use images if you’re a teacher. Commercial use must be negotiated.
In 1991 From The Beginning was cutting edge.
Today FTB still tells the correct basic story, but some taxa are no longer up to date. The tree is better represented by the large reptile tree and the subsequent discoveries and insights it covers ((since 1991, like Stenocybus and Cutleria). Here ReptileEvolution.com provides the latest guidance.
Even with its 1991 dating…
FTB is not without merit. It takes the reader from the origin of the universe and raw chemicals, then shows how modern cells evolved, adding and subtracting traits through the worms, fish, reptiles and mammals that make up the heritage of all humans. You’ll learn when we started coughing, when our tail disappeared and when the Achilles tendon first appeared, among hundreds of other traits, like chins, belly buttons, sex organs, teeth and that strange “third eye.” It also reports on the continuing evolution of humans as some of us are evolving a little different from others.
You can also see pdfs of Giants and A Gallery of Dinosaurs on the same web page.
Your comments are always welcome. And please tell your interested friends.