I am excited to share Jacqui Murray’s latest release, Natural Selection, with you today. This is the third book in her series in which Lucy’s story culminates.
When you sit down to read a book, how do you sit? In a chair, perhaps cross-legged on a bed? Lounging on a chaise? I’m sure when you prepare to read Jacqui Murray’s new release Natural Selection, you will find a place that is comfortable for you. And that you should, because you might not be able to put down this latest book from her Dawn of Humanity series.
If you are a reader of Murray’s prehistoric fiction sagas, you know she spends countless hours researching every aspect of ancient humans: from their culture, their migrations, their languages—spoken or otherwise, to their physical appearance.
First, Let’s Get Physical
In this article, Murray shares her thoughts on the physiology of ancient man.
Why Squat? Why not Sit?
An online description of the squat: To crouch or sit with one’s knees bent and one’s heels close to or touching one’s buttocks or the back of one’s thighs. We see below how children naturally squat at play.
If you see pictures of earliest man, you may have noticed he didn’t sit cross-legged as we might, nor did he often seek out a log or tree stump to use as a chair. He squatted rather than sat. This we know from nominal physical evidence like telltale divots and scratches in the femur, tibia, and ankle bone of Neanderthals, most likely the result of squatting a lot. Neanderthals are a more recent Homo species than Lucy’s kind (the star of Natural Selection), but I make the assumption if Neanderthals didn’t sit, neither did earlier Homo species, such as Homo habilis and Homo erectus.
This shouldn’t surprise us. At least a fourth of mankind habitually crouches in a deep squat both at rest and at work. Squatting is far more natural for the body. It doesn’t require anything extra to make it happen–like a chair or bench. We simply stop walking, bend our knees, and rest. It is also much quicker to get out of should danger strike and a swift departure be required.
Chairs arrived less than 6,000 years ago. They probably were for royalty and rulers, something the wealthy could afford and commoners couldn’t. Physiologically, sitting in chairs is not a healthy position. The muscles around our spine are designed to squat which is why at least a fourth of mankind still habitually takes a load off its feet by crouching.
Who knew Lucy would be a healthy trendsetter?
Speaking of setting trends, can you perform a squat?
My 60+-year-old body does NOT like doing them but the exercise is super effective for lower body strength as every muscle is used. And NO, I cannot squat all the way down as shown in the earlier images. My knees are shot and I likely would have been left behind in Lucy’s tribe because a predator would have ended my life.
Makes you want to get out there and try some, huh?
Summary of Natural Selection
In this conclusion to Lucy’s journey, she and her tribe leave their good home to rescue former-tribe members captured by the enemy. Lucy’s tribe includes a mix of species–a Canis, a Homotherium, and different iterations of early man. In this book, more join and some die, but that is the nature of prehistoric life, where survival depends on a combination of our developing intellect and our inexhaustible will to live. Each species brings unique skills to this task. Based on true events.
Set 1.8 million years ago in Africa, Lucy and her tribe struggle against the harsh reality of a world ruled by nature, where predators stalk them and a violent new species of man threatens to destroy their world. Only by changing can they prevail. If you ever wondered how earliest man survived but couldn’t get through the academic discussions, this book is for you. Prepare to see this violent and beautiful world in a way you never imagined.
A perfect book for fans of Jean Auel and the Gears!
- Title and author: Natural Selection by Jacqui Murray
- Series: Book 3 in the Dawn of Humanity series
- Genre: Prehistoric fiction
- Editor: Anneli Purchase
- Available print or digital at: http://a-fwd.com/asin=B0B9KPM5BW
About the Author
Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular prehistoric fiction saga, Man vs. Nature which explores seminal events in man’s evolution one trilogy at a time. She is also author of the Rowe-Delamagente thrillers and Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy. Her non-fiction includes over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, reviews as an Amazon Vine Voice, a columnist for NEA Today, and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics.
Social Media Contacts
- Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Jacqui-Murray/e/B002E78CQQ/
- Blog: https://worddreams.wordpress.com
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jacquimurraywriter/
- Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/askatechteacher
- Twitter: http://twitter.com/worddreams
- Website: https://jacquimurray.net
Excerpt from Chapter 1: One Pack Ends, Another Begins
The Canis’ packmates were all dead, each crumpled in a smeared puddle of blood, Upright killing sticks embedded where they should never be. His body shook, but he remembered his training. The killers’ scent filled the air. If they saw him—heard him—they would come for him, too, and he must survive. He was the last of his pack.
He padded quietly through the bodies, paused at his mate, broken, eyes open, tongue out, pup under her chest, his head crushed. A moan slipped from his muzzle and spread around him. He swallowed what remained in his mouth. Without a pack, silence was his only protection. He knew to be quiet, but today, now, failed.
To his horror, a departing Upright looked back, face covered in Canis blood, meaty shreds dripping from his mouth, the body of a dead pup slung over his shoulder. The Canis sank into the brittle grass and froze. The Upright scanned the massacre, saw the Canis’ lifeless body, thought him dead like the rest of the decimated pack. Satisfied, he turned away and rushed after his departing tribe. The Canis waited until the Upright was out of sight before cautiously rising and backing away from the onslaught, eyes on the vanished predators in case they changed their minds.
He had planned to descend into the gully behind him. Sun’s shadows were already covering it in darkness which would hide him for the night, but he had gauged his position wrong. Suddenly, earth disappeared beneath his huge paws. He tried to scrabble to solid ground, but his weight and size worked against him and he tumbled down the steep slope. The loose gravel made gripping impossible, but he dug his claws in anyway, whining once when his shoulder slammed into a rock, and again when his head bounced off a tree stump. Pain tore through his ear as flesh ripped, dangling in shreds as it slapped the ground. He kept his legs as close as possible to his body and head tucked, thankful this hill ended in a flat field, not a river.
Or a cliff.
When it finally leveled out, he scrambled to his paws, managed to ignore the white-hot spikes shrieking through his head as he spread his legs wide. Blood wafted across his muzzle. He didn’t realize it was his until the tart globs dripped down his face and plopped to the ground beneath his quaking chest. The injured animal odor, raw flesh and fresh blood, drew predators. In a pack, his mate would purge it by licking the wound. She would pronounce him Ragged-ear, the survivor.
Ragged-ear is a strong name. A good one.
He panted, tail sweeping side to side, and his indomitable spirit re-emerged.
But no one else in his pack did.
Except, maybe, the female called White-streak. She often traveled alone, even when told not to. If she was away during the raid, she may have escaped. He would find her. Together, they would start over.
Ragged-ear shook, dislodging the grit and twigs from his now-grungy fur. That done, he sniffed out White-streak’s odor, discovered she had also descended here. His injuries forced him to limp and blood dripping from his tattered ear obstructed his sight. He stumbled trying to leap over a crack and fell into the fissure. Fire shot through his shoulder, exploded up his neck and down his chest. Normally, that jump was easy. He clambered up its crumbling far wall, breaking several of his yellowed claws.
All of that he ignored because it didn’t matter to his goal.
Daylight came and went as he followed White-streak, out of a forest onto dry savannah that was nothing like his homeland.
Why did she go here?
He embraced the tenderness that pulsed throughout his usually-limber body. It kept him angry and that made him vicious. He picked his way across streams stepping carefully on smooth stones, their damp surfaces slippery from the recent heavy rain, ignoring whoever hammered with a sharp rock inside his head. His thinking was fuzzy, but he didn’t slow. Survival was more important than comfort, or rest.
Ragged-ear stopped abruptly, nose up, sniffing. What had alerted him? Chest pounding, breathing shallow, he studied the forest that blocked his path, seeking anything that shouldn’t be there.
But the throbbing in his head made him miss Megantereon.
Ragged-ear padded forward, slowly, toward the first tree, leaving only the lightest of trails, the voice of Mother in his head.
Yes, your fur color matches the dry stalks, but the grass sways when you move. That gives away your location so always pay attention.
His hackles stiffened and he snarled, out of instinct, not because he saw Megantereon. Its shadowy hiding place was too dark for Ragged-ear’s still-fuzzy thinking. The She-cat should have waited for Ragged-ear to come closer, but she was hungry, or eager, or some other reason, and sprang. Her distance gave the Canis time to backpedal, protecting his soft underbelly from her attack. Ragged-ear was expert at escaping, but his stomach spasmed and he lurched to a stop with a yowl of pain. Megantereon’s next leap would land her on Ragged-ear, but to the Canis’ surprise, the She-cat staggered to a stop, and then howled.
While she had been stalking Ragged-ear, a giant Snake had been stalking her. When she prepared her death leap, Snake dropped to her back and began to wrap itself around her chest. With massive coils the size of Megantereon’s leg, trying to squirm away did no good.
Ragged-ear tried to run, but his legs buckled. Megantereon didn’t care because she now fought a rival that always won. The She-cat’s wails grew softer and then silent. Ragged-ear tasted her death as he dragged himself into a hole at the base of an old tree, as far as possible from scavengers who would be drawn to the feast.
He awoke with Sun’s light, tried to stand, but his legs again folded. Ragged-ear remained in the hole, eyes closed, curled around himself to protect his vulnerable stomach, his tail tickling his nose, comforting.
He survived the Upright’s assault because they deemed him dead. He would not allow them to be right.
Sun came and went. Ragged-ear consumed anything he could find, even eggs, offal, and long-dead carcasses his pack normally avoided. His legs improved until he could chase rats, fat round ground birds, and moles, a welcome addition to his diet. Sometimes, he vomited what he ate and swallowed it again. The day came he once again set out after what remained of his pack, his pace more sluggish than prior to the attack, but quick enough for safety.
Ragged-ear picked up the female’s scent again and tracked her to another den. He slept there for the night and repeated his hunt the next day and the next. When he couldn’t find her trace, instinct drove him and memories of the dying howls of his pack, from the adults who trusted their Alpha Ragged-ear to protect them to the whelps who didn’t understand the presence of evil in their bright world.
Everywhere he traveled, when he crossed paths with an Upright, it was their final battle.
My Five-Star Review
Once again, Jacqui Murray’s story of ancient humans provides an intimate glimpse into the lives of these diverse groups of people.
Book 3 of the Dawn of Humanity Series delves into Lucy’s tribe of homo habilis, whose language consisted of gestures, facial expressions, and body movements. Strong and hardy, homo habilis was capable of incredible physical endurance for survival as they competed with other deadly creatures for food.
To illuminate the migration of homo habilis, Murray gathers a tribe of unlikely allies: members from Lucy’s own, a huge Canis (proto-wolf) and fierce proto-cat, displaced members of the emerging homo sapiens, as well as individuals from homo erectus and Australopithecines. Together, under Lucy’s leadership, the people of her diverse tribe thrived and contributed their own strengths to the success of their survival.
Murray, through intense research and fine writing, creates multi-faceted, believable characters, with whom the reader quickly cares. The animals of the tribe are loyal, protective and give their unique strengths to the overall group. Lucy’s story comes to a satisfying conclusion as their diverse tribe grows and thrives in their punishing and ever-changing environment.Amazon Review
By the way, once you get your copy of this book, you can practice your squats while reading!
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