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Almost Human
Almost Human: The Astonishing Tale of Homo Naledi and the Discovery That Changed Our Human Story | Lee R. Berger, John Hawks
5 posts | 3 read | 5 to read
This first-person narrative about an archaeological discovery is rewriting the story of human evolution. A story of defiance and determination by a controversial scientist, this is Lee Berger's own take on finding Homo naledi, an all-new species on the human family tree and one of the greatest discoveries of the 21st century. In 2013, Berger, a National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence, caught wind of a cache of bones in a hard-to-reach underground cave in South Africa. He put out a call around the world for petite collaborators--men and women small and adventurous enough to be able to squeeze through 8-inch tunnels to reach a sunless cave 40 feet underground. With this team of "underground astronauts," Berger made the discovery of a lifetime: hundreds of prehistoric bones, including entire skeletons of at least 15 individuals, all perhaps two million years old. Their features combined those of known prehominids like Lucy, the famous Australopithecus, with those more human than anything ever before seen in prehistoric remains. Berger's team had discovered an all new species, and they called it Homo naledi. The cave quickly proved to be the richest primitive hominid site ever discovered, full of implications that shake the very foundation of how we define what makes us human. Did this species come before, during, or after the emergence of Homo sapiens on our evolutionary tree? How did the cave come to contain nothing but the remains of these individuals? Did they bury their dead? If so, they must have had a level of self-knowledge, including an awareness of death. And yet those are the very characteristics used to define what makes us human. Did an equally advanced species inhabit Earth with us, or before us? Berger does not hesitate to address all these questions. Berger is a charming and controversial figure, and some colleagues question his interpretation of this and other finds. But in these pages, this charismatic and visionary paleontologist counters their arguments and tells his personal story: a rich and readable narrative about science, exploration, and what it means to be human.
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shanaqui
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Fascinating stuff about the sediba and naledi skeletons, and the process of excavating the latter. The suggestion that the Rising Star remains might represent deliberate funeral arrangements is pretty electrifying. Could've done without the personal grandstanding about the way the old guard do palaeontology; Berger's not wrong, but it felt self-aggrandizing when he had nothing but praise for his own digs.

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leesy1
Pickpick

A fairly quick, fun read. A bit of adventure, a bit of science, and a good bit of honesty about the author and his professional experience.

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TheBookStacker
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So I might be intermittent on here for awhile but I will be on as much as my study schedule allows. I decided recently that I want to go back to school to get my masters degree in anthropology and then eventually my PhD so wish me luck guys, I‘ll need all the help I can get!

TheKidUpstairs Good for you for going for it! You'll do great, I'm sure! 2y
mcipher Congrats!! What an exciting thing to do, and such a cool field. 2y
42 likes2 comments
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TamaraH71
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This reads like an adventure story. I wish all science books were this compelling. 💀

9 likes1 stack add
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BethFishReads
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12 books I'm looking forward to reading this month. Short descriptions on my blog, or check out the books right here on Litsy. http://www.bethfishreads.com/2017/04/12-books-to-read-in-april.html?m=1

Jess_Read_This Sebastian St Cyr!! 💕😍😂🙌🏼 (Can you tell I'm mildly excited to read this one myself) 3y
BethFishReads @LaurenReads it had better meet my expectations 😊 3y
51 likes2 stack adds4 comments