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THE SKULL IN THE ROCK by Lee R. Berger Kirkus Star


by Lee R. Berger ; Marc Aronson ; developed by National Geographic

Age Range: 10 - 18

Pub Date: April 23rd, 2013
Publisher: National Geographic

Advances in paleoanthropology are given a bracing, clearsighted overview in this enhanced e-book from Berger and Aronson, based on the 2012 print book of the same name.

Many easily recognize the discovery of 3-million-year-old Lucy as a vital moment in the human progress. But except for articles published in rarified journals, the general public hasn’t heard nearly enough from the paleoanthropological front since her discovery, and this work helps to set that record straight. It uses the findings of co-author Berger and his son as a hinge to learning from the fossil record; of “training your eye to see what you need to see” out in the field. Using the National Geographic Society’s trademark crack photography and layman’s language, the book takes readers from Lucy through a very helpful timeline of famous fossil finds in Africa and the introduction of dating techniques. It constructs a braided evolutionary trail that includes a member Berger named sediba, who had traits quite separate from chimpanzees and may prove to be a link to the deep past. Enhancements include an introductory video that uses Google Earth to zero in on Berger’s dig sites outside of Johannesburg, another, nifty video that gives a “3-D” look at the titular skull, enlargeable photos that often appear in swipeable galleries, and active hyperlinks from Web-based resources in the bibliography, allowing galvanized readers instant, direct access to further information.

A terrific piece of paleoanthropology, with a smart blend of scientific sobriety and narrative verve. (Nonfiction enhanced e-book. 10 & up)