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Lowly Origin:
Where, When, and Why Our Ancestors First Stood Up
Jonathan Kingdon

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"Jonathan Kingdon is a subtle amalgam of artist and scientist. He has a deep and up-to-date knowledge of human prehistory, and of the topology and geography of Africa, the continent where most of human prehistory happened. But he is also our leading zoological artist, and I think it must be his artist's eye that gives his writing style its vividness. . . . Kingdon is a wonderful example of a "Third Culture" writer: a scientist who communicated his original ideas to fellow scholars in books that can be read--and enjoyed--by any educated person."--Richard Dawkins, Times Literary Supplement

"Lowly Origin is an evocative book that highlights one of the key factors that makes us human--our bipedality. . . . Kingdon's writing is lucid and his illustrations are beautiful in showcasing just how this important component of human evolution took place. . . . A must read. A must have."--Ann Haley MacKenzie, American Biology Teacher

"Jonathan Kingdon is . . . singularly well equipped to cast an eye over the thorny problem of human origins. . . . Kingdon has read widely and wisely. . . . [He] does not claim to have found the answer to human origins. The real message of the book is the rich contextual evidence it provides. Wise students of human evolutionary history would be well advised to think carefully about that message."--Bernard Wood, Bioscience

"There are people who will authoritatively disagree . . . however, any subsequent account will have to parry Kingdon's version with equally explicit consideration of . . . equally vivid pictures of ways of life."--Alison Jolly, London Review of Books


"Jonathan Kingdon's work is one of the things that make the present day such an exciting time for anyone with the slightest intellectual curiosity. His subject matter is our profound and thrilling human origins, and his stance toward it makes his work unique and priceless. Not only is Kingdon a scientist of commanding authority, he is an artist whose hand transmits his knowledge through drawings so swift and graceful that revelation and admiration arrive together. His wonderful new book takes a characteristically original look at one of the things that makes us human: our walking on two legs. There is no one alive who could do it better."--Philip Pullman, author of The Amber Spyglass

"Jonathan Kingdon is a Living World Treasure. One of Africa's greatest zoological artists, he is also one of zoology's leading authorities on Africa's mammals. A world class zoologist, ecologist, and writer, he also thinks deeply about human prehistory and evolution. Bipedality is humanity's founding peculiarity. Lowly Origin is Kingdon's highly original take on how it came about, and he manages to broaden his canvas to accommodate all of human evolution. An artist with words and a poet with images, only Jonathan Kingdon could have written this book."--Richard Dawkins, University of Oxford, Fellow of the Royal Society

"This well-written book offers new insights into the biogeographic and ecological influences on human evolution and helps us make sense of the fossil record."--Colin P. Groves, Australian National University

"Kingdon has made a unique contribution to the field of mammalian evolution and African ecology, both in his writing and in his art. His approach to human evolution, with its focus on the natural history of people and animals, is very special and important."--Robert A. Foley, University of Cambridge

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File created: 4/21/2017

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