Their Skeletons Speak

Article excerpt

By Sally M. Walker. 136 pp. $22.95. ISBN 9780761374572. 2012. Carolrhoda Books. (Grades 3-12)

When a new discovery about our human origins is made, it always garners headlines. Today new discoveries quickly become intertwined with forensics as scientists use an increasing array of tools to shed light on our human past. This book provides an excellent review of the variety of disciplines that come into play as scientists try to piece together the puzzle surrounding each new discovery. Any teacher who wants to show how a variety of scientific tools are used to find answers to questions about new paleontological finds will find this book to be an excellent resource.

The book details the science be-hind our present understanding of Kennewick Man, a skeletal find in Oregon that has changed our present perspective about our human ancestors' migration to North America. This find has caused us to push back man's arrival to an earlier point than had been previously hypothesized. As Kennewick Man's story unfolds, the reader is taught about a variety of scientific tools that are now used in paleontology. From the use of CT scans to find out what may have killed this individual, to the use of radioactive isotopes for dating him, to the use of chemistry to identify certain chemicals in the bones as a means of understanding how Kennewick Man survived in the sediments for so long, this book illustrates how scientists use many different tools in their work. …