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Ancient Bones

Unearthing the Astonishing New Story of How We Became Human

by (author) Madelaine Böhme, Rüdiger Braun & Florian Breier

translated by Jane Billinghurst

foreword by David R. Begun

Greystone Books Ltd
Initial publish date
Sep 2020
History, Science, Social Studies
Grade Levels
11 to 12
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Sep 2020
    List Price
  • Downloadable audio file

    Publish Date
    Oct 2020
    List Price
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Aug 2022
    List Price

Where to buy it

Descriptive Review

Exciting and outspoken, yet very readable, Ancient Bones is divided into seventeen conversational chapters in four parts. Böhme sheds new light on the origins of humankind, challenging the “Out of Africa” theory and arguing that the focus on one continent is too narrow. Using her own discoveries, as well as criticism by other renowned paleontologists, Böhme asks two important questions: First, what makes us human? And second, why are humans the last ape standing? Böhme’s assertions are supported by academic background information and insightful infographics and diagrams by illustrator Nadine Gibler. | Madelaine Böhme is a professor of paleoclimatology at the University of Tübingen, Germany.

376 pp., 5.5 × 8.5", colour and b&w photographs and illustrations • Bibliography • Index

Source: Association of Book Publishers of BC - BC Books for Schools (2021-2022)

About the authors

Madelaine Böhme's profile page

Jane Billinghurst holds an M.A. in German and Philosophy from Oxford University and is the author of numerous nonfiction books, including Temptress: From the Original Bad Girls to Women on Top. She is also an editor and has been the director of Simon Fraser University's Summer Book Editing Workshop. She lives in Anacortes, Washington, where she can often be found tending her foxgloves and forget-me-nots or relaxing in a garden chair.

Jane Billinghurst's profile page

Rüdiger Braun's profile page

Florian Breier's profile page

David R. Begun's profile page

Editorial Reviews

Selected by Alexander McCall-Smith as a Book of the Year for the New Statesmen

“Splendid and important …. Scientifically rigorous and written with a clarity and candor that create a gripping tale … [Bo?hme’s] account of the history of Europe’s lost apes is imbued with the sweat, grime, and triumph that is the lot of the fieldworker, and carries great authority.”
Tim FlanneryThe New York Review of Books

“[A]ncient mysteries, serendipitous discoveries, feuding experts, and scientific breakthroughs, all unfolding like a richly detailed detective story…”
Booklist, starred review

“In this exciting investigation into the long and ancient path of humans, the authors explore the connections among evolution, climate, and environment… An impressive introduction to the burgeoning recalibration of paleoanthropology.”
Kirkus Reviews, starred review

“Bohme and her colleagues are wonderful storytellers. They present a complex tale that features a daunting number of moving parts with all the local colour, humour and narrative pace of a well-written mystery novel.”
Vancouver Sun

“An inherently fascinating, impressively informative, and exceptionally thought-provoking read...Ancient Bones is expertly written, organized and presented, making it a critically important and unreservedly recommended addition to personal, professional, community, and college/university library.”
Midwestern Book Review

“As outspoken as it is readable.”

“Part Sherlock Holmes, part Indiana Jones, Ancient Bones is an entertaining and provocative retelling of the human evolutionary story. Böhme's hypotheses—written with enthusiasm and clarity—will be scientifically scrutinized for decades to come.”
Jeremy DeSilva, author of First Steps: How Upright Walking Made Us Human

“Madelaine Bohme is an iconoclast, and her fossil discoveries have challenged long-standing ideas on the origins of the ancestors of apes and humans. She lays it all out in this readable and thought-provoking book, which goes to show that new fossil clues always have the potential to generate new ideas.”
Steve Brusatte, University of Edinburgh paleontologist and New York Times-bestselling author of The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs

“In pursuit of an intriguing if controversial theory of distant human origins, Madelaine Böhme and her colleagues very readably unearth some fascinating history and evoke all the excitement that is inherent in modern paleoanthropological research.”
Ian Tattersall, co-author of The Accidental Homo sapiens: Genetics, Behavior, and Free Will.

“An enthralling journey through time and around the world to untangle the complexities of ape and human evolution. Prof. Boehme skilfully intertwines scientific description with the history of fossil discovery and investigation to explain the evolution and biology of our closest relatives. Sometimes controversial but always exciting and engaging, this book is essential reading for those who want to explore alternative perspectives on our origins.”
Sarah Elton, Professor of Evolutionary Anthropology, Durham University

“This book expresses perfectly the excitement of discovering ancestral lineages in our genus. It is a colorful, personal account of research into one of the most basic interests of our species—our origins and our close extinct relatives.”
Dr. Robert DeSalle, principal investigator, Sackler Institute for Comparative Genomics