Fascinating. Riveting. Provocative. The list of superlatives to describe this book could go on for pages. Johanson – the famed archeologist who discovered the 3.2 million-year-old hominid (human ancestry) fossil – has written a book for the ages with this one. This book chronicles his expeditions into the ancient sites of Eastern Africa for the discovery of hominid bones in a vivid and relatable way. He speaks candidly about his discouragement and discontentment with findings (and the lack thereof) and allows his readers to feel as though they are right alongside him as he traverses these historic sites where he luckily “stumbles” across the most important fossils to mankind to date.
As brilliantly and scientifically as this book is written, it still manages to depict the importance of these findings in a relatable way for non-experts who are interested in this subject. Lucy’s Legacy keeps the attention of the layman who is interested in the possible fossil record of human lineage by illustrating anecdotes we all can identify with, yet it maintains its scientific credibility by not deviating from measuring all findings against rigorous scientific scrutiny. Johanson writes honestly and not presumptuously by asserting that the ancient finds to date are definitively the complete (or accurate) puzzle to human ancestry. He cautiously asserts some possible links (which he describes the characteristics that have led to such postulations) between these ancient fossils and modern-day man, but does not mislead curious readers into believing this all-important puzzle has been solved–it has not.
I came away satisfied that many questions I had had been answered, yet many more had emerged as a result of having read this book. And perhaps this is exactly what was supposed to happen. Aren’t we supposed to satisfy curiosities through a rigorous process of scientific scrutiny, while also embracing any other questions that will inevitably arise through the process? I strongly encourage anyone who is interested in understanding the latest scientific record of millions-of-year-old fossils to read this book. If you are curious to know how some of the bold conclusions have been reached in formulating the human ancestry tree, this is the book to read. Regardless of one’s religious affiliation or philosophy on life, this book will keep your attention and elicit your most critical thinking mechanisms. In short, it will not disappoint.