Primate Change: How the world we made is remaking us Hardcover – 20 Sep 2018
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Nature and nurture commingle to fascinating effect. (Nature)
An excellent evaluation of our bodily shortcomings (Financial Times)
Entertaining and thought-provoking (Literary Review)
This is the road from climate change to primate change.See all Product description
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This thesis is worked through for the whole skeleton, with special reference to teeth, feet and hands; and covers all the malaises (including shortness of sight, and allergic reactions) that come with modern life - by way of the problems with the agrarian revolution, the industrial revolution, and the move to a life based on service industries and desk-based work/sofa-based leisure. Sometimes, as in the case of hands, his proposition is that we've remade the world to fit our bodies - rather than that we've remade the world, and then our bodies adapt to that remade world...This all has quite a lot of interest; sometimes deriving from the by-ways of the author's studies, for example his suggestion that longevity may be associated with small stature (eg among Sardinians and Okinawans).
The author is clearly more drawn to the view of life on the savannah as the original affluent society than to the view that it is nasty, brutish and short. The changes, such as the change in bone density, mostly look bad rather than good to him; and sections on 'winding back' contain advice on how to combat this of a self-help kind. Another view, however, would be that changes are inevitable and adaptive (rather than unfortunate) - and certainly as individuals we might like the best of both worlds. Dental treatment to prevent avoidable deaths from our wisdom teeth even if we might also wish to combat, at an individual level, the thinning of human bones.
The book ranges widely; and provides much food for thought - even if some of the fundamental questions (about when the new world and attendant adaptation to a new world are beneficial, on balance) might have benefitted from further thought (perhaps) and certainly further discussion.