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Convert currency. Add to Basket. Condition: New. Language: English. Brand new Book. This engaging book tells the story of human evolution, asking if man is indeed the 'chosen species' or merely an evolutionary accident. This book is written by world-renowned paleoanthropologists who are co-directors of the excavations at Atapuerca - a World Heritage Site and Europe's oldest known burial site - where a new human species, homo antecessor, was discovered.

It discusses various hypotheses of human evolution, drawing conclusions from verifiable facts and well-founded argument. It offers a compelling narrative written for nonspecialists and students of human evolution and includes over 60 illustrations. Seller Inventory AAH More information about this seller Contact this seller. Book Description Wiley-Blackwell, Book Description Wileyand ;Blackwell, New Book. Shipped from UK. Established seller since Seller Inventory FW Book Description Blackwell , Malden, Mass.

Oxford, But she would not have disputed the central idea: Homo sapiens has become a successful species, and is growing accordingly. At that time we will have exhausted the resources of the global petri dish, or effectively made the atmosphere toxic with our carbon-dioxide waste, or both.

The chosen species the long march of human evolution by wenikajolak98 - Issuu

After that, human life will be, briefly, a Hobbesian nightmare, the living overwhelmed by the dead. When the king falls, so do his minions; it is possible that our fall might also take down most mammals and many plants. Possibly sooner, quite likely later, in this scenario, the earth will again be a choir of bacteria, fungi, and insects, as it has been through most of its history.

It would be foolish to expect anything else, Margulis thought. More than that, it would be unnatural. Encountering a man in a tweed jacket and beanie, Milo asks him where they are. The man replies by asking if they know who he is—the man is, apparently, confused on the subject. Milo and his friends confer, then ask if he can describe himself.

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In short order, the companions learn that the man is as strong as can be, weak as can be, smart as can be, stupid as can be, graceful as can be, clumsy as—you get the picture. Again, Milo and his friends confer, and realize that the answer is actually quite simple:. With Canby, Juster presumably meant to mock a certain kind of babyish, uncommitted man-child. This plasticity, this Canby-hood, is the hallmark of our transformation from anatomically modern Homo sapiens to behaviorally modern Homo sapiens —and the reason, perhaps, we were able to survive when Toba reconfigured the landscape.

Other creatures are much less flexible. Like apartment-dwelling cats that compulsively hide in the closet when visitors arrive, they have limited capacity to welcome new phenomena and change in response. Human beings, by contrast, are so exceptionally plastic that vast swaths of neuroscience are devoted to trying to explain how this could come about. Nobody knows for certain, but some researchers now think that particular genes give their possessors a heightened, inborn awareness of their environment, which can lead both to useless, neurotic sensitivity and greater ability to detect and adapt to new situations.

Plasticity in individuals is mirrored by plasticity on a societal level. The caste system in social species like honeybees is elaborate and finely tuned but fixed, as if in amber, in the loops of their DNA.

Human Evolution: Crash Course Big History #6

Some leafcutter ants are said to have, next to human beings, the biggest and most complex societies on earth, with elaborately coded behavior that reaches from disposal of the dead to complex agricultural systems. Wilson has written. But they are incapable of fundamental change. The centrality and authority of the queen cannot be challenged; the tiny minority of males, used only to inseminate queens, will never acquire new responsibilities.

Human societies are far more varied than their insect cousins, of course.


But the true difference is their plasticity. It is why humankind, a species of Canbys, has been able to move into every corner of the earth, and to control what we find there. Our ability to change ourselves to extract resources from our surroundings with ever-increasing efficiency is what has made Homo sapiens a successful species. It is our greatest blessing. By , demographers predict, as many as 10 billion human beings will walk the earth, 3 billion more than today. Not only will more people exist than ever before, they will be richer than ever before. In the last three decades hundreds of millions in China, India, and other formerly poor places have lifted themselves from destitution—arguably the most important, and certainly the most heartening, accomplishment of our time.

Yet, like all human enterprises, this great success will pose great difficulties. In the past, rising incomes have invariably prompted rising demand for goods and services. Billions more jobs, homes, cars, fancy electronics—these are things the newly prosperous will want.

But the greatest challenge may be the most basic of all: feeding these extra mouths. To agronomists, the prospect is sobering. Instead they will ask for pork and beef and lamb. Salmon will sizzle on their outdoor grills. In winter, they will want strawberries, like people in New York and London, and clean bibb lettuce from hydroponic gardens. All of these, each and every one, require vastly more resources to produce than simple peasant agriculture.

The process is terribly inefficient: between seven and ten kilograms of grain are required to produce one kilogram of beef. Given present patterns of food consumption, economists believe, we will need to produce about 40 percent more grain in than we do today. How can we provide these things for all these new people? That is only part of the question. The full question is: How can we provide them without wrecking the natural systems on which all depend? Scientists, activists, and politicians have proposed many solutions, each from a different ideological and moral perspective.

Some argue that we must drastically throttle industrial civilization. Stop energy-intensive, chemical-based farming today!

Eliminate fossil fuels to halt climate change! Others claim that only intense exploitation of scientific knowledge can save us. Plant super-productive, genetically modified crops now! Switch to nuclear power to halt climate change! No matter which course is chosen, though, it will require radical, large-scale transformations in the human enterprise—a daunting, hideously expensive task. Worse, the ship is too large to turn quickly. Aquifers cannot be recharged with a snap of the fingers.

If the high-tech route is chosen, genetically modified crops cannot be bred and tested overnight. Similarly, carbon-sequestration techniques and nuclear power plants cannot be deployed instantly. In the name of nature, we are asking human beings to do something deeply unnatural, something no other species has ever done or could ever do: constrain its own growth at least in some ways. Zebra mussels in the Great Lakes, brown tree snakes in Guam, water hyacinth in African rivers, gypsy moths in the northeastern U. Not one has voluntarily turned back. Now we are asking Homo sapiens to fence itself in.

What a peculiar thing to ask! The term sums up part of our human nature as well. Evolving in small, constantly moving bands, we are as hard-wired to focus on the immediate and local over the long-term and faraway as we are to prefer parklike savannas to deep dark forests. Thus, we care more about the broken stoplight up the street today than conditions next year in Croatia, Cambodia, or the Congo.

Rightly so, evolutionists point out: Americans are far more likely to be killed at that stoplight today than in the Congo next year. Yet here we are asking governments to focus on potential planetary boundaries that may not be reached for decades. Given the discount rate, nothing could be more understandable than the U.

From this perspective, is there any reason to imagine that Homo sapiens, unlike mussels, snakes, and moths, can exempt itself from the natural fate of all successful species? To biologists like Margulis, who spend their careers arguing that humans are simply part of the natural order, the answer should be clear. All life is similar at base. All species seek without pause to make more of themselves—that is their goal.

By multiplying till we reach our maximum possible numbers, even as we take out much of the planet, we are fulfilling our destiny. From this vantage, the answer to the question whether we are doomed to destroy ourselves is yes. It should be obvious. Defoe clearly intended his hero to be an exemplary man. Shipwrecked on an uninhabited island off Venezuela in , Crusoe is an impressive example of behavioral plasticity. Rescue comes at last in the form of a shipful of ragged mutineers, who plan to maroon their captain on the supposedly empty island.

Crusoe helps the captain recapture his ship and offers the defeated mutineers a choice: trial in England or permanent banishment to the island.

All choose the latter.