07/17/07 1 pm The Last Human



I read on CNN.COM today that they have discovered hominid fossils in Ethiopia that date from a time period for which the history of human evolution is poorly understood: 3.5-3.8 million years ago.

Which just makes our show for Tuesday so perfect!

A few months ago Marc came in all excited about an article he had read about a book called The Last Human: A Guide to Twenty-Two Species of Extinct Humans.  He asked me to get a review copy of the book and to try and get the authors on.

Today you will be hearing from paleoartist Viktor Deak and Richard Milner, a historian of science, editor of Natural History Magazine, and author of the Encyclopedia of Evolution and Darwin’s Universe. 

So obviously humans are the sole surviving hominid lifeform.  That seems normal to us.  But in fact it is very strange; for most of their history, it seems that various types of humans and prehumans coexisted together.  That’s so interesting to me, and I think a lot of other people too; why else would we like the Geico caveman commercials so much that the ABC network thinks it is a good idea to turn it into a television pilot?  We like the idea of a world where various Homo species live together.  I think we like the way something really similiar to us but not just like us tells us things about ourselves.  We’re obsessed with twins and triplets and stories about long-lost siblings for the same reason. 

But talking about this book isn’t enough.  It’s power comes from the dozens and dozens of arresting, amazingly lifelike images created by paleoartist Viktor Deak.  I knew you needed to see them to really understand how cool this book is.  So…just for you…because I care…Here is a slideshow of some images from the book. 

Get started!