Author: Lydia Pyne
Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads
Summary: This was a fascinating read, but far too light. There was little science in this science history!
“Over the last century, the search for human ancestors has spanned four continents and resulted in the discovery of hundreds of fossils. While most of these discoveries live quietly in museum collections, there are a few that have become world-renowned celebrity personas—ambassadors of science that speak to public audiences. In Seven Skeletons, historian of science Lydia Pyne explores how seven such famous fossils of our ancestors have the social cachet they enjoy today.” (Source)
I enjoyed this book well enough. The stories were interesting, the pictures were pretty cool, and the organization by fossil age was easy to follow. However, this book felt very light and left me wanting more. I wanted to know more about every fossil and in particular, would have liked more information about how they were studied. I hoped to learn more about archaeology and evolution, but this book exclusively focused on how the fossils were viewed by scientists and society. Even that might have felt more substantial if the author drew interesting conclusions about why some fossils become famous. As is, the message I took away from the book was that fossils become famous by chance. If you’re alright with a lighter approach to this topic and are interested in an exclusively cultural history of these fossils, you might enjoy this more than I did.