Non-Fiction Reviews


The Lucy Man
The scientist who found the most famous fossil ever

(2011) C A P Saucier, Prometheus, 13.99, trdpbk, 128 pp, ISBN 978-1-616-14433-3

 

Lucy is, of course, a fossil of Australopithecus afarensis the homin of the genus Homo that preceded our species H. sapiens, the fossil of which was discovered by Donald (Don) Johanson in Ethiopia in 1974. This interesting short biography reveals that he was heavily into science when at school with one passion being astronomy. Then he had to decide whether to specialise in chemistry or anthropology.

The biography is short at just 128 pages including acknowledgements, references and index, and all the more so in that it is illustrated throughout with colour photographs. There is biography and summary elementary palaeo-anthropology in equal measure.

A very quick read, for the university student (perhaps too light a fodder), this book is most likely to appeal to the school pupil aged 14-16 with an interest in science. As Don felt cultivating an interest in science with school children was important, the choice of subject for biography is in this case apposite. This sense of importance in nurturing scientific enquiry in young minds comes to the fore in the book's foreword written by Don Johanson himself and which includes the hint that the young reader may end up walking on Mars. Stirring stuff for young science fact and fiction Concateneers.

Jonathan Cowie


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