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The Fossil Chronicles: How Two Controversial Discoveries Changed Our View of Human Evolution, by Dean Falk

Reviewed by Peter Rogerson

The interest in this book for Magonia readers will be in the discussion of how science deals with dramatic anomalies, in this case in the field of human evolution. The examples given are the discovery of Australopithecus Africanus by Raymond Dart in 1924, and the discovery of Homo Floresiensis “The Hobbit” in 2004.

At the time of Dart’s discovery the vision of human evolution was conditioned by the Piltdown hoax, which led anthropologists to believe that brain expansion preceded the humanisation of the rest of the body, so they imagined a human like head on an ape like body. Australopithecus showed that bipedalism developed long before major brain expansion. Dart’s discovery was essentially side lined by the British establishment for many years.

Falk, who was involved with studies of the brain cast of the Hobbit , shows that similar resistance developed over that discovery, with groups who come who probably come as close to the notorious “debunkers” as has arisen in mainstream science.

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