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Название: The Origins of Modern Humans: Biology Reconsidered
Авторы: Smith F., Ahern J.
In the late 1980s, I went off to college interested in a handful of possible futures but certain
of none. A moment of clarity came in a “theory and method in physical anthropology” class
when the topic of the week, and of one of my papers, turned toward modern human origins.
This had become the hot topic of paleoanthropology by the late 1980s and had largely
eclipsed the field’s obsession with hominin origins. As I delved into its literature for the first
time, I encountered a single book that not only was a wealth of information for the paper that
I needed to write but also the work that had been instrumental in changing the focus of paleoanthropology. This book, Smith and Spencer’s The Origins of Modern Humans: A World
Survey of the Fossil Evidence (1984), was a weighty tome that I felt as I carried it around with
me for the rest of the semester and well after I had turned in my first paper on modern human
origins. Other books on modern human origins had come out by the late 1980s and all had
their own strengths. However, what set Origins apart, aside from being the first, was its
detailed fossil descriptions and decidedly new theoretical explanations combined with comprehensive geographical coverage. Many of the book’s chapters went on to become core readings for any student of physical anthropology, and the book as a whole became essential for
all paleoanthropologists. Origins transformed me and many others from undeclared college
students into anthropology majors determined to become paleoanthropologists.