Yves Coppens

The Past of the Present A Prehistorian’s Chronicles Publication date : May 15, 2009

Yves Coppens is a palaeontologist. An honorary professor at the Collège de France and a member of the French Academy of Sciences, he is internationally recognised as the discoverer of the hominid Lucy. He is the author of Préambules (1998; Odile Jacob paperback, 2001), Le Genou de Lucy (1999), Yves Coppens raconte l’homme (2008) and L’Histoire de l’homme. 22 ans d’amphi au Collège de France (2008).

“Man was born three million years ago of climate change and of the successful adaptation to that change.
“But how many people know that for 3.5 million years all life was aquatic, and that it was only when glacier formation caused the waters to withdraw significantly that plants began to appear on the landmass, to be followed by invertebrates and, shortly afterwards, by vertebrates?
“Despite culture and technology, we remain living creatures and must submit to biological laws and to certain environmental pressures. At present, too, the climate is shifting and so Man will necessarily change,” writes Y. Coppens.

Will Homo sapiens know how to adapt too? What lessons can we learn from the creatures that preceded us on Earth, and from what they were capable of doing? Who better than Yves Coppens can make us aware of the amazing relevance of the past from which we have all sprung?

• This vivid introduction to prehistory recounts in an accessible but lively style how palaeontologists and archaeologists succeeded in tracing, in a few decades, the routes of Human genealogy.

• With skill and humour, Coppens puts our past history into perspective. His is an enlightening approach which blends our immediate past as highly evolved creatures and the more primitive history of our ancestors, mammals and pre-humans included.