• The World Before Us

  • The New Science Behind Our Human Origins
  • By: Tom Higham
  • Narrated by: John Sackville
  • Length: 9 hrs and 4 mins
  • 4.8 out of 5 stars (52 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

A fascinating investigation of the origin of humans based on incredible new discoveries and advanced scientific technology.

Fifty thousand years ago, Homo sapiens was not the only species of humans in the world. There were also Neanderthals in what is now Europe, the Near East, and parts of Eurasia, hobbits (H. floresiensis) on the island of Flores in Indonesia, Denisovans in Siberia and Eastern Eurasia, and H. luzonensis in the Philippines. Tom Higham investigates what we know about these other human species and explores what can be learned from the genetic links between them and us. He also looks at whether H. erectus may have survived into the period when our ancestors first moved into Southeast Asia.

Filled with thrilling tales of recent scientific discoveries, this book offers an engaging synopsis of our current understanding of human origins and raises new and interesting possibilities - particularly concerning what contact, if any, these other species might have had with us prior to their extinction. 

©2021 Tom Higham (P)2021 Yale Press Audio

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Wonderfully Accessible

The World Before Us by Tom Higham, an archaeological scientist, radiocarbon dating specialist, and Oxford professor is so well written for the amateur reader and really moves along. It updates the reader to many recent archaeological and anthropological discoveries as well as the dating science used to place these unique discoveries in human history. It covers the Denisovan cave discoveries, and the overlap or possible overlap between homo species in the Europe and Asia made over tens of thousands of years following our out of Africa migrations. This makes for a truly interesting reading experience (or listening one -- as in my case I listened to it on Audible books). I found it quite accessible, highly educational, and that it began to answer a lot of questions I've formed after reading popular (NY Times) accounts of recent scientific discoveries in this field. Kudos to Professor Higham and the teams of scientists and assistants who have worked so hard to bring these revelations to light.

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So fascinating

The rapidity of new developments in anthropology relating to our human ‘cousins’, and their effects on our species, is dizzying. This broad yet detailed overview of the latest research makes us constantly reevaluate our prior assumptions. Bravo!

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Informative

Informative, a bit dry at points but overall good.
A deep dive into the science and research of early humans.