The Last Lost World: Ice Ages, Human Origins, and the Invention of the Pleistocene

The Last Lost World: Ice Ages, Human Origins, and the Invention of the Pleistocene

by Lydia Pyne, Stephen J. Pyne


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An enthralling scientific and cultural exploration of the Ice Age—from the author of How the Canyon Became Grand

From a remarkable father-daughter team comes a dramatic synthesis of science and environmental history—an exploration of the geologic time scale and evolution twinned with the story of how, eventually, we have come to understand our own past.

            The Pleistocene is the epoch of geologic time closest to our own. The Last Lost World is an inquiry into the conditions that made it, the themes that define it, and the creature that emerged dominant from it. At the same time, it tells the story of how we came to discover and understand this crucial period in the Earth’s history and what meanings it has for today.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780143123422
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 04/30/2013
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 1,206,375
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.80(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Lydia V. Pyne, a lecturer and visiting fellow at Drexel University, has done extensive fieldwork in archaeology and paleoanthropology. She lives in Philadelphia.
Stephen J. Pyne is the author of Voyager, Year of the Fires, The Ice, and How the Canyon Became Grand, among many other books. He lives in Glendale, Arizona.

Table of Contents

Prologue: Mossel Bay, South Africa 1

Part 1 How the Pleistocene Got Its Ice

Chapter 1 Rift 7

African Rift

Renaissance Rift

Past Imperfect

Chapter 2 Ice 16

Ice Age

The Ice Cometh and Goeth

Eiszeit and Zeitgeist

Chapter 3 Story 40

The Geographic Narrative: From Big Chill to Spark Within

The Genomic Narrative: Not in the Stars, but in Ourselves

The Cultural Narrative: The Gloss of Temperament

Part 2 The Great Game

Chapter 4 Footnotes to Plato 61

True to Type

Antecedents and Analogues

Origins: The Beginnings of the Ends

Chapter 5 Out of Africa 87

Parallel Paths of the Past

Erectus Unbound: Quest for Fire

The Orthogenesis of an Idea

Chapter 6 Missing Links 114

Forging the Chain

From Chain to Tree

Links Found, Lost, Invented, and Written

Method, the Modern Synthesis

Extinct Links and Eternal Verities

Chapter 7 New Truths, Heresies, Superstitions 154

Ice, Fire, and Giants: The European Pleistocene

The Last Made First

Founding Fathers

Places of Refuge, Sites of Revelation

Dwarves on the Shoulders of Gyants

Chapter 8 The Ancients and the Moderns 190

Sapients in the Looking Glass

Battle of the Books, Battle of the Bones

Ochre and Aurochs

Part 3 How the Pleistocene Lost its Tale

Chapter 9 The Hominin Who Would Be King 223

The Geographic Narrative: The Great Realignment

The Genomic Narrative: The Great Himself

The Cultural Narrative: The Great What-If

Chapter 10 The Anthropocene 239

Humanity's Planetary Presence

Behaviorally Modern Disciplines

Epilogue: Rift Redux 255

Appendix: Figures 264

Authors' Note 271

Notes 273

Index 289

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