The 10,000 Year Explosion: How Civilization Accelerated Human Evolution

The 10,000 Year Explosion: How Civilization Accelerated Human Evolution

by Gregory Cochran, Henry Harpending

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Overview

Resistance to malaria. Blue eyes. Lactose tolerance. What do all of these traits have in common? Every one of them has emerged in the last 10,000 years.

Scientists have long believed that the "great leap forward" that occurred some 40,000 to 50,000 years ago in Europe marked end of significant biological evolution in humans. In this stunningly original account of our evolutionary history, top scholars Gregory Cochran and Henry Harpending reject this conventional wisdom and reveal that the human species has undergone a storm of genetic change much more recently. Human evolution in fact accelerated after civilization arose, they contend, and these ongoing changes have played a pivotal role in human history. They argue that biology explains the expansion of the Indo-Europeans, the European conquest of the Americas, and European Jews' rise to intellectual prominence. In each of these cases, the key was recent genetic change: adult milk tolerance in the early Indo-Europeans that allowed for a new way of life, increased disease resistance among the Europeans settling America, and new versions of neurological genes among European Jews.

Ranging across subjects as diverse as human domestication, Neanderthal hybridization, and IQ tests, Cochran and Harpending's analysis demonstrates convincingly that human genetics have changed and can continue to change much more rapidly than scientists have previously believed. A provocative and fascinating new look at human evolution that turns conventional wisdom on its head, The 10,000 Year Explosion reveals the ongoing interplay between culture and biology in the making of the human race.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780465020423
Publisher: Basic Books
Publication date: 10/19/2010
Edition description: First Trade Paper Edition
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 916,520
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 0.90(d)
Age Range: 13 - 18 Years

About the Author

Gregory Cochran is a physicist and Adjunct Professor of Anthropology at the University of Utah. For many years, he worked on lasers and image enhancement in the field of aerospace. He lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Henry Harpending holds the Thomas Chair as Distinguished Professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Utah. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences. A field anthropologist and population geneticist, he helped develop the "Out of Africa" theory of human origins. He lives in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Gregory Cochran and Henry Harpending's research has been featured in the New York Times, the Economist, Los Angeles Times, Jerusalem Post, Atlantic Monthly, Science, Seed, and more.

Table of Contents

Preface ix

1 Overview: Conventional Wisdom 1

2 The Neanderthal Within 25

3 Agriculture: The Big Change 65

4 Consequences of Agriculture 85

5 Gene Flow 129

6 Expansions 155

7 Medieval Evolution: How the Ashkenazi Jews Got their Smarts 187

Conclusion 225

Notes 229

Glossary 243

Bibliography 253

Credits 267

Index 269

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