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Masters of the Planet: The Search for Our Human Origins (Macsci)

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Masters of the Planet: The Search for Our Human Origins (Macsci) Cover

ISBN13: 9780230108752
ISBN10: 023010875x
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

When homo sapiens made their entrance 100,000 years ago they were confronted by a wide range of other early humans - homo erectus, who walked better and used fire; homo habilis who used tools; and of course the Neanderthals, who were brawny and strong. But shortly after their arrival, something happened that vaulted the species forward and made them the indisputable masters of the planet. This book is devoted to revealing just what that difference is. It explores how the physical traits and cognitive ability of homo sapiens distanced them from the rest of nature. Even more importantly, Masters of the Planet looks at how our early ancestors acquired these superior abilities; it shows that their strange and unprecedented mental facility is not, as most of us were taught, simply a basic competence that was refined over unimaginable eons by natural selection. Instead, it is an emergent capacity that was acquired quite recently and changed the world definitively.

Review:

"Tattersall (The Fossil Trail), a noted expert on human evolution and an emeritus curator at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, offers a concise history of how humans became humans. He explains how the sparse skeletal remains of ancient human predecessors are studied, how the shape of a molar, the tip of a pelvis, the design of the knee or the ankle all offer clues to the genealogical maps of our past. He revisits the usual suspects: the famous three-million-year-old Lucy; the unprecedented (in 1984) hominid structure of the Turkana Boy; and the 400,000-year-old Heidelberg man. Tattersall moves through the complex fossil records effortlessly and with a welcome sense of wonder. He also consistently conveys a deep knowledge of his subject. His discussion of the origin of symbolic behavior and the many theories that seek to explain early humans' unprecedented leap in capacity, including the acquisition of language, the development of art, and the ability to deal in the abstract, is provocative and illuminating. Tattersall's combination of erudition and a conversational style make this is an excellent primer on human evolution. Illus." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Synopsis:

50,000 years ago - merely a blip in evolutionary time - our Homo sapiens ancestors were competing for existence with several other human species, just as their own precursors had been doing for millions of years. Yet something about our species separated it from the pack, and led to its survival while the rest became extinct.  So just what was it that allowed Homo sapiens to become Masters of the Planet?   Curator Emeritus at the American Museum of Natural History, Ian Tattersall takes us deep into the fossil record to uncover what made humans so special.  Surveying a vast field from initial bipedality to language and intelligence, Tattersall argues that Homo sapiens acquired a winning combination of traits that was not the result of long term evolutionary refinement. Instead it emerged quickly, shocking their world and changing it forever.

Synopsis:

Fifty thousand years ago—merely a blip in evolutionary time—our Homo sapiens ancestors were competing for existence with several other human species, just as their precursors had done for millions of years. Yet something about our species distinguished it from the pack, and ultimately led to its survival while the rest became extinct. Just what was it that allowed Homo sapiens to become masters of the planet? Ian Tattersall, curator emeritus at the American Museum of Natural History, takes us deep into the fossil record to uncover what made humans so special. Surveying a vast field from initial bipedality to language and intelligence, Tattersall argues that Homo sapiens acquired a winning combination of traits that was not the result of long-term evolutionary refinement. Instead, the final result emerged quickly, shocking our world and changing it forever.

About the Author

Ian Tattersall, PhD is a curator in the Division of Anthropology of the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, where he co-curates the Spitzer Hall of Human Origins. He is the acknowledged leader of the human fossil record, and has won several awards, including the Institute of Human Origins Lifetime Achievement Award. Tattersall has appeared on Charlie Roseand NPR's Science Friday and has written for Scientific American and Archaeology. He's been widely cited by the media, including The New York Times, BBC, MSNBC, and National Geographic. Tattersall is the author of Becoming Human, among others. He lives in New York City.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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itpdx, July 25, 2012 (view all comments by itpdx)
This "progress report" on what we now know about the origins of homo sapiens is something that I have been thirsting for. As Tattersall says what we knew in paleoanthropology when I was in college looks "engagingly quaint today". From deep core ice sampling to DNA testing of ancient bones to functional MRI's of the brain, as well as finding new archeological sites, we have learned a lot. I have read about various finds and testing but have not been able to put it all together. This book does.

Tattersall demonstrates why he is a curator at the American Museum of Natural History. He explains clearly what we know for the non-scientist without talking down to us (or at least to me). I truly appreciate the way that he organized the book--going from the oldest hominids to the earliest humans--not by the order that we have found traces of them; and that he used a consistent method of dating (in this case how many years ago) throughout the book.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780230108752
Author:
Tattersall, Ian
Publisher:
Palgrave MacMillan Trade
Subject:
Evolution
Subject:
Life Sciences - Human Anatomy & Physiology
Subject:
Biology-Evolution
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Publication Date:
20120331
Binding:
HARDCOVER
Language:
English
Illustrations:
Includes 8 pp bandw photos
Pages:
288
Dimensions:
10 x 7 x 2 in

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Masters of the Planet: The Search for Our Human Origins (Macsci) Used Hardcover
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$12.50 In Stock
Product details 288 pages Palgrave MacMillan - English 9780230108752 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Tattersall (The Fossil Trail), a noted expert on human evolution and an emeritus curator at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, offers a concise history of how humans became humans. He explains how the sparse skeletal remains of ancient human predecessors are studied, how the shape of a molar, the tip of a pelvis, the design of the knee or the ankle all offer clues to the genealogical maps of our past. He revisits the usual suspects: the famous three-million-year-old Lucy; the unprecedented (in 1984) hominid structure of the Turkana Boy; and the 400,000-year-old Heidelberg man. Tattersall moves through the complex fossil records effortlessly and with a welcome sense of wonder. He also consistently conveys a deep knowledge of his subject. His discussion of the origin of symbolic behavior and the many theories that seek to explain early humans' unprecedented leap in capacity, including the acquisition of language, the development of art, and the ability to deal in the abstract, is provocative and illuminating. Tattersall's combination of erudition and a conversational style make this is an excellent primer on human evolution. Illus." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"Synopsis" by ,

50,000 years ago - merely a blip in evolutionary time - our Homo sapiens ancestors were competing for existence with several other human species, just as their own precursors had been doing for millions of years. Yet something about our species separated it from the pack, and led to its survival while the rest became extinct.  So just what was it that allowed Homo sapiens to become Masters of the Planet?   Curator Emeritus at the American Museum of Natural History, Ian Tattersall takes us deep into the fossil record to uncover what made humans so special.  Surveying a vast field from initial bipedality to language and intelligence, Tattersall argues that Homo sapiens acquired a winning combination of traits that was not the result of long term evolutionary refinement. Instead it emerged quickly, shocking their world and changing it forever.

"Synopsis" by , Fifty thousand years ago—merely a blip in evolutionary time—our Homo sapiens ancestors were competing for existence with several other human species, just as their precursors had done for millions of years. Yet something about our species distinguished it from the pack, and ultimately led to its survival while the rest became extinct. Just what was it that allowed Homo sapiens to become masters of the planet? Ian Tattersall, curator emeritus at the American Museum of Natural History, takes us deep into the fossil record to uncover what made humans so special. Surveying a vast field from initial bipedality to language and intelligence, Tattersall argues that Homo sapiens acquired a winning combination of traits that was not the result of long-term evolutionary refinement. Instead, the final result emerged quickly, shocking our world and changing it forever.
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