Human Evolution

Sense and Nonsense: Evolutionary Perspectives on Human Behaviour

by Kevin N Laland and Gillian R Brown
New York: Oxford University Press, 2002. 384 pages.

In Sense and Nonsense, Laland and Brown seek to introduce the ideas, methods, and results of the five main approaches of applying evolutionary theory to human behavior: sociobiology, human behavioral ecology, evolutionary psychology, memetics, and gene–culture evolution.

Archaeological Fantasies: How Pseudoarchaeology Misrepresents the Past and Misleads the Public

edited by Garrett G. Fagin
London, UK: Falmer Press, 2006. 417 pages.

In his introduction to Archaeological Fantasies, Garrett G. Fagan writes, "Despite great advances in archaeology's investigative methods and modes of analysis — all grounded in vast quantities of verifiable evidence — a self-styled 'alternative' movement presents a nexus of often mutually exclusive and outrageous narratives as if they were viable substitutes for real knowledge about the past." The contributors to the volume — including Kenneth L. Feder, Bettina Arnold, Mary Lefkowitz, Norman Levitt, and Alan D.

Significant Others

by Craig Stanford
New York: Basic Books, 2001. 256 pages.

Stanford, a veteran field primatologist, argues "that the gap between apes and humans is very narrow indeed, and the insistence on seeing it as vast and unbridgeable is more a product of fashion and prejudice than of clear thinking." Divided into three sections, dealing with "the forces that drive the societies of great apes and other primates," "contentious questions about the connection of great ape behavior to our understanding of what people do," and "the fate of the apes." The author is professor of anthropology at the University of Southern California and codirector of the Jane Goodall R

What It Means to Be 98 Percent Chimpanzee: Apes, People, and Their Genes

by Jonathan Marks
Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2003. 312 pages.

Matt Cartmill writes, "In this clever, entertaining, and thoughtful book, Marks lays out some important limitations of science in general and genetics in particular. Using terms that everybody can understand, he demolishes the pretensions of scientists who try to use genetics to answer questions about the kinship of nations, the rights of animals, the racial identity of Kennewick Man, the hereditary Jewish priesthood, and the existence of God.

Tree of Origin

edited by Frans de Waal
Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2002. 320 pages.

Nine primatologists — Richard W. Byrne, Robin I. M. Dunbar, William C. McGrew, Anne E. Pusey, Charles T. Snowdon, Craig B. Stanford, Karen B. Strier, and Richard W. Wrangham — consider the implications of primate behavior for understanding human evolution. Topics of the individual essays include reproduction, food and diet, tool use, intelligence, communication and language, and culture. "If you want a source that cogently discusses human intelligence in the context of the behavior of other primates," writes Ian Tattersall, "Tree of Origin is the place to turn."

Our Inner Ape

by Frans de Waal
New York: Riverhead Books, 2006. 288 pages.

In Our Inner Ape, Frans de Waal — a leading primatologist — entertainingly and thoughtfully ponders what we can learn about ourselves from the behavior of our closest relatives: chimpanzees and bonobos. NCSE's Anne D. Holden writes (in RNCSE 2007 Sep–Dec; 27 [5–6]: 45–6), "de Waal's argument that humans exhibit important qualities of both chimpanzees and bonobos is well-developed, organized, and is complemented by excellent examples from his years in close contact with these animals.

Deep Ancestry: Inside the Genographic Project

by Spencer Wells
Des Moines, IA: National Geographic Society, 2007. 247 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.

The Seven Daughters of Eve

by Brian Sykes
New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2002. 320 pages.

From the publisher: "The Seven Daughters of Eve reveals the remarkable story behind a groundbreaking scientific discovery. After being summoned in 1997 to an archaeological site to examine the remains of a five-thousand-year-old man, Bryan Sykes ultimately was able to prove not only that the man was a European but also that he has living relatives in England today.

Mapping Human History

by Steve Olson
Boston: Mariner Books, 2003. 304 pages.

From the publisher: "In this sweeping narrative of the past 150,000 years of human history, Steve Olson draws on new understandings in genetics to reveal how the people of the world came to be. ... He shows how groups of people differ and yet are the same, exploding the myth that human races are a biological reality while demonstrating how the accidents of history have resulted in the rich diversity of people today.

The Great Human Diasporas

by Luigi Luca Cavalli-Sforza and Francesco Cavalli-Sforza
Reading, MA: Basic Books, 1996. 320 pages.

The lifework of Luigi Luca Cavalli-Sforza has been to investigate the history of humanity through its genetic makeup; The Great Human Diasporas, written in collaboration with his filmmaker son and translated from the Italian, distills his prodigious scientific knowledge into a form accessible to the general reader. A central chapter explains how Cavalli-Sforza used archaeological and genetic data to reconstruct the human population movements of the last ten thousand years (especially in Europe).