Our closest living relatives are the chimpanzee and bonobo. We share many characteristics with them, but our lineages diverged millions of years ago. Who in fact was our last common ancestor? Bringing together ecology, evolution, genetics, anatomy and geology, this book provides a new perspective on human evolution. What can fossil apes tell us about the origins of human evolution? Did the last common ancestor of apes and humans live in trees or on the ground? What did it eat, and how did it survive in a world full of large predators? Did it look anything like living apes? Andrews addresses these questions and more to reconstruct the common ancestor and its habitat. Synthesising thirty-five years of work on both ancient environments and fossil and modern ape anatomy, this book provides unique new insights into the evolutionary processes that led to the origins of the human lineage.
Peter Andrews has always had a keen interest in fossils, and an encounter with Dr L. S. B. Leakey while working in the Kenya Forestry Department encouraged him to make the move to anthropology. He has spent much of his career at the Natural History Museum, London, where he was Head of Human Origins until his retirement in 2000. Since then he has been curator of Blandford Museum while retaining an Emeritus Research Associate position at the Natural History Museum along with honorary professorships at University College London and the University of York. He has published ten books, two with Chris Stringer, and nearly 200 articles in the scientific and popular press.
Preface; 1. How can we recognise common ancestors?; Part I. Apes - Their Morphology and Behaviour: 2. Morphology and behaviour of living apes; 3. Human and ape phylogenies; 4. Review of fossil apes; Part II. Environments and Palaeoenvironments: 5. Structure and composition of ape environments; 6. Environmental indicators; Part III. Review of Fossil Apes - Morphology and Environment: 7. The view from the Early Miocene; 8. The environment in the Early Miocene; 9. The view from the Middle Miocene; 10. Specialised apes from the Middle Miocene; 11. The environment in the middle Miocene; 12. A second view from Europe; 13. The environment in Europe; 14. Late Miocene to Pleistocene apes; 15. Apes, hominins and environment in the Late Miocene; Part IV. Last Common Ancestor: 16. Putting together the evidence; 17. An ape's view of human evolution; References and further reading; Index.