Fossil bones and teeth, bipedal and hairy hominid footprints, prehistoric sites, Palaeolithic artefacts, and ancient DNA are types of evidence on the basis of which palaeontologists attempt to rebuild our deep history. The author puts together a complicated puzzle the pieces of which – including recent discoveries concerning Lucy’s era, the enigmatic Homo naledi, the Neanderthals whose genome we probably share, and of course the advent of Homo sapiens – resemble the torn pages of a book in dire need of repair. No science evolves as quickly as the study of human evolution. The “breaking news” reported here is written by a scientist who also happens to be a skilful communicator, capable of shedding light on the leafy tree of our natural history .
Giorgio Manzi, a paleoanthropologist, teaches at the Sapienza University in Rome and heads its museum system and the Giuseppe Sergi Museum of Anthropology