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The Monkey in the Mirror: Essays on Science and What Makes Us Human
Synopses & Reviews
Nothing fascinates us more than explorations of human origins,
and nobody tells the story better than Ian Tattersall.
What makes us so different? How did we get this way? How do we know? And what exactly are we? These questions are what make human evolution a subject of general fascination. Ian Tattersall, one of those rare scientists who is also a graceful writer, addresses them in this delightful book.
Writing in an informal essay style, Tattersall leads the reader around the world and into the far reaches of the past, showing what the science of human evolution is up against-from the sparsity of evidence to the pressures of religious fundamentalism. Looking with dispassion and humor at our origins, Tattersall offers a wholly new definition of what it is to be human.
Delightful stories, scientific wisdom, fresh insight-the perfect science book.
Book News Annotation:
An American Museum of Natural History curator offers eight loosely interconnected essays on the multidisciplinary scientific quest to decipher human origins via studying nonlinear evolutionary patterns and Neanderthal technology. There are no references and no index or illustrations. Tattersall's On Becoming Human won an award from the American Anthropological Association.
Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Widely regarded as one of the rare eminent scientists who is also a graceful writer, Ian Tattersall takes up some of the most controversial questions in evolutionary theory in this extraordinary set of essays. Tattersall stresses that living creatures, including humans, are not finely engineered organisms with every component perfectly adapted to their function. We are--thank goodness--jury-rigged, improvised beings, owing as much to chance as to adaptation. And that's true of all living creatures. Evolutionary theory isn't a finite set of conclusions based on overwhelming evidence: it's our evolving effort to make sense out of a handful of incomplete fossil remains.
The fundamental questions of our origins--and our evolutionary future--find new life in this extraordinary book, full of delightful stories, scientific wisdom, and fresh insight.
Ian Tattersall is widely regarded as one of the rare eminent scientists who is also a graceful and engaging writer. In this extraordinary new work he attempts to answer the most controversial questions on human origins: What makes us so different? How did we get this way? How do we know? Guiding readers around the world and far into the past, Tattersall examines and explores evolutionary theory, a science based not on a finite set of conclusions drawn from overwhelming evidence, but rather our evolving effort to make sense out of a handful of incomplete fossil remains.
Brimming with delightful stories and scientific wisdom, this exquisite book offers fresh insight into the fundamental questions of our origins--and our evolutionary future.
About the Author
Ian Tattersall is curator of human evolution at the American Museum of Natural History, and the author of many books and articles. His most recent book, Becoming Human, won the distinguished W.W. Howells Prize of the American Anthropological Association. An expert on both fossil humans and lemurs, he has done fieldwork in places as varied as Madagascar, Yemen, and Vietnam. He lives in New York City.
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