Tuesday, May 21, 2013
1) Walter, Chip. Last Ape Standing: The Seven-Million-Year Story of How and Why We Survived. 2013. Walker Books. Hardbound: 220 pages. Price: $26.00 U.S./ £20.00.
SUMMARY: Over the past 180 years scientists have discovered evidence that at least twenty-seven species of humans evolved on planet Earth. What enabled us to survive when all the others were shown the evolutionary door?
Chip Walter tells the intriguing tale of how against all odds and despite nature’s capricious ways we stand here today, the planet’s most dominant species. Drawing on a wide variety of scientific disciplines, he reveals how a rare evolutionary phenomenon led to the uniquely long childhoods that make us so resourceful and emotionally complex. Walter explains how the evolution of our highly social nature has shaped our moral (and immoral) behavior. He also plumbs the roots of our creativity and investigates why we became self-aware in ways that no other animal is. Along the way, Last Ape Standing profiles the mysterious "others" who evolved with us—the Neanderthals of Europe, the "hobbits" of Indonesia, the Denisovans of Siberia, and the recently discovered Red Deer Cave people of China, who died off just as we stood on the brink of civilization eleven thousand years ago.
Last Ape Standing is evocative science writing at its best—a witty, engaging and accessible story that explores the evolutionary events that molded us into the remarkably unique creatures we are.
RECOMMENDATION: A readable introduction to paleoanthropology.