Human Evolution

Children of Time: Evolution and the Human Story

by Anne H. Weaver

Albuquerque (NM): University of New Mexico Press, 2012. 192 pages.

“Anne Weaver’s Children of Time just happens to be the first material I’ve professionally reviewed that’s honest about whom the scientific study of human origins and evolution is actually for,” writes reviewer Holly M. Dunsworth: “the kids and the kids-at-heart of the world. And this book nails it.

The Philosophy of Human Evolution

by Michael Ruse

Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012. 282 pages.

The Philosophy of Human Evolution is a historical and critical survey of the ways in which Darwinian thinking has clashed and interacted with the concerns of philosophers,” reviewer Matt Cartmill explains. “Intended for a general audience, the book showcases Ruse’s manifold skills as a writer. His prose is lucid, straightforward, and colloquial. Each paragraph leads into the next with elegant coherence and no complicated impediments to the smooth flow of ideas.

Not a Chimp: The Hunt to Find the Genes that Make Us Human

by Jeremy Taylor
New York: Oxford University Press, 2009. 256 pages.

Reviewer Jonathan Marks summarizes, “Jeremy Taylor argues that (1) we are genomically more different than the 98–99% datum has indicated; (2) we are cognitively and behaviorally more different than the inhabitants of the post-Goodall world have been led to believe; and (3) the elision of human and chimpanzee, as animal-rights advocates have promoted, is unwarranted.

Inside the Human Genome: The Case for Non-Intelligent Design

by John C. Avise
New York: Oxford University Press, 2010. 240 pages.

Avise’s book highlights the baroque, redundant, and inefficient features of the human genome: “None of this is easily explained by actions of either a loving and merciful God or of an unnamed but highly competent Designer,” reviewers Arcady Mushegian and Eric Kessler comment. They add, “Avise’s account is concise but rich in historic and medical detail, and the prose is elegant and lucid.

Deep Ancestry

by Spencer Wells
Washington (DC): National Geographic, 2007. 256 pages.

In Deep Ancestry, Spencer Wells, the director of the National Geographic Society’s Genographic Project, clearly explains the science behind the project — which is collecting DNA from a wide sample of the world’s population in order to understand the evolution of the human genome — and also engagingly relates the stories of five of its volunteers.

On Human Nature, revised edition

by E. O. Wilson
Cambridge (MA): Harvard University Press, 2004. 288 pages.

From the publisher: “No one who cares about the human future can afford to ignore Edward O. Wilson’s book. On Human Nature begins a new phase in the most important intellectual controversy of this generation: Is human behavior controlled by the species’ biological heritage? Does this heritage limit human destiny? With characteristic pungency and simplicity of style, the author of Sociobiology challenges old prejudices and current misconceptions about the nature-nurture debate. ...

Smithsonian Intimate Guide to Human Origins

by Carl Zimmer
New York: Harper Paperbacks, 2007. 176 pages.

A beautifully illustrated and elegantly concise guide to human origins, the Smithsonian Intimate Guide to Human Origins explains the latest research on human evolution. "Despite recent insights into our origins, there is much we still don't know. ...

The Human Career, third edition

by Richard G. Klein
Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2009. 1024 pages.

Simply the single best reference and advanced introduction to paleoanthropology — the subject of human biological and cultural evolution, the area where physical anthropology and prehistoric archeology overlap. A previous edition was described by Henry McHenry as "by far the best book of its kind" and by R. A. Foley as "the best introduction to the problems and data of modern palaeoanthropology yet published." Unmatched for breadth, range, and reliability, with more than 1000 pages, The Human Career is indispensable for any serious student of human evolution. Richard G.

Naming our Ancestors: An Anthology of Hominid Taxonomy

by Eric W Meikle & Sue Taylor Parker
Prospect Heights, IL: Waveland Press, 1994. 254 pages.

In this anthology, the authors make "available a set of key documents in the literature of human evolution relevant to the history of hominid taxonomy and the discovery and naming of extinct hominid species." Naming Our Ancestors is a collection of fifteen essays, written from 1864 to 1986, that present a historical overview of paleoanthropology, plus four essays discussing changes in taxonomic practice since World War II. Papers were selected to present the full range of names given to hominid fossils and the theoretical principles underlying the naming practices.

The Last Neanderthal

by Ian Tattersall
Boulder, CO: Basic Books, 1999. 208 pages.

Tattersall, Curator at the American Museum of Natural History, successfully "aim[s] paint as full a portrait as possible of these capable and fascinating human precursors and the world they lived in...." This beautifully illustrated volume is rich with photographs of original fossils, discussions about the evolution and and life-style of Neanderthals and how archeologists interpret the available evidence, and thought-provoking reflections on what the story of the Neanderthals tells us about our own place in nature.