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Becoming Human: Our Past, Present and Future

Becoming Human: Our Past, Present and Future [Kindle Edition]

Scientific American Editors
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Product Description

Product Description

We humans are a strange bunch. We have self-awareness and yet often act on impulses that remain hidden. We were forged in adversity but live in a world of plenty. How did we get here? What is to become of us? To these age-old questions, science has in recent years brought powerful tools and reams of data, and in this eBook, Becoming Human: Our Past, Present and Future, we look at what these data have to tell us about who we are. We know, for instance, that three million years ago, a group of primates known as the australopithecines was walking capably on two legs—the better to navigate the African savanna—and yet still had long arms suited to life in the trees. In Section One, “Becoming Us,” we search for how and why this and other transitions occurred. In “Lucy’s Baby,” author Kate Wong discusses what the oldest juvenile skeleton tells us about how early humans walked the Earth. Another article, “The Naked Truth,” examines why humans lost their hair and how hairlessness was a key factor in developing other human traits. Section Two covers “The Secrets of our Success,” and we see that human evolution and culture are often related. In “The Evolution of Grandparents,” Rachel Caspari shows us that as humans started to live longer, grandparents played a role in family life, which in turn made possible more complex social behaviors. In Section Three, “Migration and Colonization,” we look at how scientists are studying the minuscule bits of DNA that differ from one individual to another for clues to our origins and settlements. “The First Americans” illustrates the findings that have pushed back the date at which hunter-gatherers colonized the Americas. And in Section Four, “Vanished Humans,” the discovery of “hobbits”—a human species of small stature—has turned the science of human origins on its ear. Where is evolution taking us? We present two points of view in Section Five, “Our Continuing Evolution.” In “How We Are Evolving,” Jonathan K. Pritchard argues that selection pressure typically acts over tens of thousands of years, which means we probably won't evolve much anytime soon. But stasis is only one possible future, says Peter Ward in “What May Become of Us.” In adapting to new environments—say, a colony on Mars—our human species may eventually diverge into two or more. Or we could go the cyborg route and merge with machines. Whichever option you prefer, there is plenty to ponder.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1206 KB
  • Print Length: 189 pages
  • Publisher: Scientific American (23 Sep 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #95,690 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Realy good up to date review!! 5 Nov 2013
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Perfect if you want to learn the latest overview about human origin.
Simple easy to read and deep enough to give you a solid knowledge about the subject.
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3.0 out of 5 stars A bit of a pot pourri 26 Oct 2013
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The book is full of interesting bits and pieces. I had hoped for something more coherent, however, on reflection maybe it is the nature of the subject that forces the authors to be so speculative and variable.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.3 out of 5 stars  29 reviews
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Read - a few Technical Glitches 10 Oct 2013
By N. Reitzel - Published on
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I saw a promotion for this book in a SciAm mailing list, and went looking. The Kindle version was inexpensive and seemed like a bargain. I downloaded it immediately.

For those of us with an interest in human evolutionary science, this is a clear, well written, and highly entertaining compilation of articles, complete with reader comments and questions. I found it uplifting and a very pleasant read. I recommend it heartily to anyone who might even consider the subject.

The down side is small - glitches. The typographical ligatures ("ff" for example) do not render properly in the browser-based kindle cloud reader using UTF-8 fonts. There are also the usual typos one finds in an early kindle release. None of this are a detriment to this volume, they are just a little annoying to those of us who are a little anal-retentive.

It's a great book, well worth the price.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Accelerating evolution of understandin ME 30 Nov 2013
By Trevor Gibbons - Published on
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This is a grab bag of current research across a wide range of topics by scientists who are doing the actual research.
Many articles I found gripping, some of less interest or too technical. Articles review human origins up to lastest finds such as"Selam" 3.3MY infant from Dikika, Ethiopia (still only partly excavated). The focus moves from Tanzania to South Africa for early H.sapiens history. The focus also moves from fossil evidence to the human genome studies. An example - one 118 base section shows just two changes from chicken to chimpanizee, but 18 changes from chimp to H sapiens, This section deals with structure of the human cortex, linking to the "great leap forward" (Diamond) in H. sapiens. It raises a doubt about Meyer's well presented "Darwin's Doubt" challenging species evolution. Small gene changes can have dramatic results. A detailed treatment of the First Americans not so interesting for an Australian, but the mystery of "The Hobbits" is. Marean writes of a human bottleneck at MIS6 with survivors just a few in South Africa. Was he meaning MIS 4 following the intense cold around 70 000 yrs and the Toba Eruption? Overall this was an excellent read.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good compendium of scholarship on human origins 28 Oct 2013
By Don Jennings - Published on
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Scientific American has had many good articles over the years on the continuing progress in teasing out our origins. This collection comprises some of the best. One thing paleontologists have learned over the last century is that the hominen family tree is much messier than it seemed at first -- and that messiness makes for stimulating reading.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Human Origins: Updated 23 Nov 2013
By Dr. Sidney Rosenberg - Published on
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A clutch of important articles summarizing the current state of knowledge in Physical Anthropology, Evolution and genetics, as applied to the emergence of modern man.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very impressive read. 20 Dec 2013
By Amazon Customer - Published on
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Although I am a rank amateur I have been following human and biological evolution for decades. While I have other sources, the ability to pull this out of my hip pocket anytime I have some dead time is nearly miraculous. I only wish I had more control over the images.
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