And so these men of Indostan Disputed loud and long, Each in his own opinion Exceeding stiff and strong, Though each was partly in the right, And all were in the wrong!


A scrap chunk of quartz may seem to have the shape of a dog to some primitive mind that cherishes it as a talisman and imbues it with amuletic properties.   Searching through the drifting sands of Africa palaeontologists have found all sorts of skeletal remains that seem human to their primitive minds and are imbued with all sorts of pseudo scientific properties.  As an adventure story this is a charming book about wise people who have probably afforded the natives no end of amusement. For the rest of us it is a cautionary tale about the blind man who, taking hold of the elephant’s tail declared, the Elephant Is very like a rope!

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Adventures in the bone trade : the race to discover human ancestors in Ethiopia’s Afar Depression  Jon Kalb  New York, NY : Copernicus Books, c 2001  Hardcover. 1st ed. and printing. xv, 389 p., [16] p. of plates : ill., maps ; 24 cm. Includes bibliographical references (p. 348-374) and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG

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In the last few hundred years, Africa has witnessed the slave trade, the ivory trade, the diamond trade, and the rubber trade, each representing a separate chapter of discovery and exploitation. In the 1920s, another type of “trade” burst onto the stage with the discovery of our oldest human ancestors, beginning with the Taung Child, Australopithecus africanus, found in South Africa in 1924. Then came the sensational discoveries in East Africa made by Louis and Mary Leakey in the 1950s and 1960s, and by their son in the late 1960s. Their discoveries produced unprecedented scientific “wealth” about our origins and instantly captured the public’s attention.

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Over the past 25 years, a stream of fossil and artifact discoveries in the Afar Depression of Ethiopia has produced the longest single record of human ancestors in the world. Many of the fossils found in this region are supposed to be the missing links leading to modern humans. This book chronicles the exploration of this unique desert area, focusing especially on the 1970s when the valley was mapped and many fossils and archeological sites were discovered.

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The author gives his personal account of the 25 years he spent researching the region. As co-founder of the team that discovered Lucy, Jon Kalb has first-hand knowledge of the research that was involved in the findings of this region and of the intense rivalry that has accompanied those findings. He discusses the political drama of Ethiopia and the effects this chaos had on the Afar. This book covers the scientific discoveries of the area, the author’s own explorations and findings, and the political struggles involved with these discoveries.

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