There are only a handful of books that had a memorable effect on my life.
One of them is a Scientific American book on psychology I read in junior college that I mentioned in an earlier post.
Another one is a book on the Pioneer 10/11 space mission that I read during secondary school (which introduced me to the terms "principal investigator", "photopolarimeter and "RS232").
Earlier still is a big picture book on human evolution that I read when I was in primary school. I recall picking it out from the adult section of the Bukit Merah library - I was never content with children's books and often sneaked "upstairs" to where the good stuff was.
It was a big, heavy book with many photos of the original hominid fossils.
By today's standards, the relationship shown in the book is simplistic and too linear (something like Proconsul -> Ramapithecus -> Australopithecus -> Homo habilis -> Homo erectus -> Homo sapiens).
Maybe most of these remains once belonged to simple individuals just trying to eke out a living in a harsh environment. Not all of them are virtuosos who can produce amazing cave art or preside over elaborate funeral rituals.
But without them, we wouldn't be here.
Did they ever look up at the skies in wonder? Could they have ever imagined that their descendants would one day spread out throughout the globe and walk on the Moon?
Looking at the photos of our ancestors gave me a solemn, almost sacred feeling and instilled in me a sense of respect for the past struggles of our forebears.
To appreciate the magnitude of the explanatory and unifying power of the field of knowledge founded by Darwin and Wallace that many years ago, here are some posters that illustrate various aspects of biological evolution.
I'll let the pictures do the talking.
Evolution of plants
Evolution of animals
Evolution of the amphibian skull
Evolution of the bird wing
Evolution of the mammalian jaw
Evolution of the whale
Evolution of the human skull
Would you like to know more?
- Transitional Vertebrate Fossils FAQ (TalkOrigins)
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