Lost Anatomies: The Evolution of the Human Form

Abrams. Mar. 2019. 208p. illus. index. ISBN 9781419734489. $40; ebk. ISBN 9781683355175. FINE ARTS
Self-described paleoartist Gurche (Shaping Humanity), whose work may be familiar to readers of National Geographic, visitors to the Smithsonian's Hall of Human Origins, or fans of Jurassic Park, here brings to life human fossils, allowing us to see connections between ourselves and our prehistoric ancestors. This collection describes more than four million years of human evolution through beautifully rendered chalk, graphite, and acrylic illustrations. Organized chronologically, each of the four sections is introduced by a paleoanthropologist (David R. Begun, Trent W. Holliday, Rick Potts, and Carol Ward), essays providing archaeological context for the drawings. While accessible overall, the texts are quite detailed in articulating small physiological differentiations of the fossil record over time as well as changes associated with evolving skills and human behaviors. The authors relate their experience studying fossils to enhance readers' appreciation of how the scientific record and the imagination work together toward our understanding of human evolution.
VERDICT While technique and scientific knowledge are clearly demonstrated, it is Gurche's artwork that brings an extraordinary vision and emotional resonance that will both inform and move readers.
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