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The Real Planet of the Apes: A New Story of Human Origins

  • Peabody Museum 210 Whitney Avenue New Haven, CT, 06511 United States (map)

Book signing to follow
Free admission & Parking

Since Darwin, researchers have accepted his theory that humans and our closest living relatives, the apes—chimps, gorillas and bonobos—evolved exclusively in Africa. After all, apes are only found in Africa and we now know that the earliest fossils of humans are also from Africa. Now there is new evidence that the first apes actually evolved in Europe. Was Darwin wrong? David Begun’s new book traces the origins of all apes to Africa and documents their move into the new and more challenging environment of Eurasia around 17 million years ago, where the great ape and human lineage arose. Their large brains, long mobile upper limbs and complex social and ecological adaptations all appear in the context of the northern Old World. A great split into eastern and western groups occurs early. The details of this are surprising and reveal much about our evolutionary history. Nothing in human anatomy and behavior today can be fully appreciated without an understanding of the evolution of the common ancestor we share with the African apes.