Was Darwin wrong when he traced our origins to Africa? The Real Planet of the Apes makes the explosive claim that it was in Europe, not Africa, where apes evolved the most important hallmarks of our human lineage—such as dexterous hands and larger brains. In this compelling and accessible book, David Begun, one of the world’s leading paleoanthropologists, transports readers to an epoch in the remote past when the Earth was home to many migratory populations of ape species.
Drawing on the latest astonishing discoveries in the fossil record as well as his own experiences conducting field expeditions across Europe and Asia, Begun provides a sweeping evolutionary history of great apes and humans. He tells the story of how one of the earliest members of our evolutionary group—a new kind of primate called Proconsul—evolved from lemur-like monkeys in the primeval forests of Africa. Begun vividly describes how, over the next 10 million years, these hominoids expanded into Europe and Asia and evolved climbing and hanging adaptations, longer maturation times, and larger brains, setting the stage for the emergence of humans. As the climate deteriorated in Europe around 10 million years ago, these apes either died out or migrated south, reinvading the African continent and giving rise to the lineages of the gorilla, chimpanzee, and, ultimately, the human.
Presenting startling new insights about our fossil ape ancestors, The Real Planet of the Apes is a book that fundamentally alters our understanding of human origins.
David R. Begun is professor of anthropology at the University of Toronto. His books include A Companion to Paleoanthropology and The Evolution of Thought: Evolutionary Origins of Great Ape Intelligence. He lives in Toronto.
"[The Real Planet of the Apes] is enthralling, making accessible an absolutely critical period of human evolution and scientific debates surrounding the interpretation of its evidence--including [Begun’s] own controversial thesis."--Steven Mithen, New York Review of Books
"Begun’s overarching goal is to promote his hypothesis that the ancestor of the African apes and humans may actually have evolved in Europe instead of Africa. He builds a strong case for this not-yet-mainstream idea while making it abundantly clear that he is open to data that would prove him wrong. Begun’s passion is evident in both his writing and his science."--Publishers Weekly
"Begun’s book provides the ‘on-the-ground,’ ‘point-of-view-of-a-dedicated-specialist’ perspective that I find really valuable. . . . The Real Planet of the Apes is written in a non-academic, friendly tone, is well designed and well illustrated, and should be obtained by those seriously interested in fossil primates, primate diversity and evolution, and in mammal history more generally."--Darren Naish, ScientificAmerican.com’s Tetrapod Zoology blog
"The questions of where, when, and how our species evolved are fascinating."--Kirkus
"There is much to link in this enjoyable book. A highlight is its introduction. . . . Begun writes in a friendly, almost conversational style throughout. . . . Perhaps the best advice that I can offer is a paraphrase of the immortal words uttered by Heston’s character in the eponymous film: 'Get your stinking paws on this book, you damn dirty ape!'"--Simon Underdown, Times Higher Education
"Begun bucks prevailing wisdom thought in his book, which theorizes that our ancestors left Africa and migrated to Europe for 10 million years. Backed by 30 years of field work and research, Begun’s theory is worth a look."--Chicago Tribune
Table of Contents:
CHAPTER 1 THE EARLY YEARS 27
CHAPTER 2 OUT OF AFRICA: AFROPITHECUS AND FRIENDS 62
CHAPTER 3 OUT IN THE WORLD: EARLY APES SPREAD IN EUROPE 73
CHAPTER 4 HOME AGAIN: THE NEW AFRO-EUROPEAN APES 97
CHAPTER 5 THE BIG EAST-WEST DIVIDE 118
CHAPTER 6 EAST SIDE STORY: OUR COUSINS SIVAPITHECUS AND THE ORANGUTANS 123
CHAPTER 7 WEST SIDE STORY: THE AFRICAN APES OF EUROPE 147
CHAPTER 8 THE DESCENDANTS OF DRYOPITHECUS 162
CHAPTER 9 BACK TO AFRICA AGAIN 187