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Scientists are using DNA analysis to understand our prehistory: the evolution of humans; their relation to the Neanderthals, who populated Europe and the Near East; and Homo erectus, who roamed the steppes of Asia. Most importantly, geneticists can trace the movements of a little band of human ancestors, numbering perhaps no more than 150, who crossed the Red Sea from east Africa about 50,000 years ago. Within a few thousand years, their descendents, Homo sapiens, became masters of all they surveyed, the other humanoid species having become extinct. According to New York Times science reporter Wade, this DNA analysis shows that evolution isn't restricted to the distant past: Iceland has been settled for only 1,000 years, but the inhabitants have already developed distinctive genetic traits. Wade expands his survey to cover the development of language and the domestication of man's best friend. And while "race" is often a dirty word in science, one of the book's best chapters shows how racial differences can be marked genetically and why this is important, not least for the treatment of diseases. This is highly recommended for readers interested in how DNA analysis is rewriting the history of mankind. Maps. (Apr. 24)
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Genetics has been intruding on human origins research, long the domain of archaeology and paleoanthropology. Veteran science journalist Wade applies the insights of genetics to every intriguing question about the appearance and global dispersal of our species. The result is Wade's recounting of "a new narrative," which also has elements of a turf war between geneticists and their established colleagues. He efficiently explains how an evolutionary event (e.g., hairlessness) is recorded in DNA, and how rates of mutation can set boundary dates for it. For the story, Wade opens with a geneticist's estimate that modern (distinct from "archaic") Homo sapiens arose in northeast Africa 59,000 years ago, with a tiny population of only a few thousand, and was homogenous in appearance and language. Tracking the ensuing expansion and evolutionary pressures on humans, Wade covers the genetic evidence bearing on Neanderthals, race, language, social behaviors such as male-female pair bonding, and cultural practices such as religion. Wade presents the science skillfully, with detail and complexity and without compromising clarity. Gilbert Taylor
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
A great read,answers a lot of questions that we wonder about, where did we come from?Published 1 month ago by Garth Olson
certainement un de meilleurs livres sur l'évolution que j'ai lu dernièrement. la place de lagénétique pour expliquer certaina aspects de... Read morePublished 10 months ago by atheesapiens
Easy to read, Beautiful summery of man kinds journey so far. Incorporating current physical and evolutionary theory and fact together with histories twists and turns. Read morePublished 12 months ago by Alex Stern
An excellent, if not the most elegant, multi-disciplinary presentation on human evolution. It might not be a be-all end-all in understanding human evolution, no single book could... Read morePublished 16 months ago by Josh Gaudet
Wade is an enthusiastic genetic determinist, but at least he almost invariably prefaces his questionable assertions with a comprehensive and interesting framing of the issue at... Read morePublished 18 months ago by ogilvie
This book by Nicolas Wade opens our eyes to what we are and where we come from. It also reveals to us the common threads that bind us all together. Read morePublished 19 months ago by Larry