Tuesday, August 4, 2020

A Pocket History of Human Evolution: How We Became Sapiens, by Silvana Condemi (author), Francola Savatier (contributor), Christa Lewis (narrator)

Tantor Audio, October 2019 (original publication October 2018)

This is, as it says on the cover, a pocket history of human evolution. It's clear, concise, informative, covers enough detail to be useful--including some interesting material I hadn't caught up with previously.

The authors are a paleoanthropologist (Condemi), and a science journalist (Savatier), and this is an excellent, accessible overview of what we know about our ancestors. How did our lineage emerge from the many closely related bipedal species to become the only surviving member of genus homo? The only fully bipedal ape? A species able to adapt to every continent (including, marginally, Antarctica), and make major alterations to the planet?
You may gain a new appreciation of the human foot. I was fascinated by the information that human populations were interacting and interbreeding across most  of Africa, not just East Africa, fairly early in Sapiens development, expanding out of Africa as well as descendants of earlier out-migrants migrating back to Africa, and possibly at some point cross-breeding with Homo erectus.

Humans apparently will mate with anything that looks about right.

There's also a strong emphasis on the importance of cultural evolution, with language and the sharing of new inventions and ideas playing a large role in our rise to unlikely dominance.

It's informative, fascinating, and enjoyable. Recommended.

I bought this audiobook.

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