Humanimal: How Homo sapiens Became Nature's Most Paradoxical Creature-A New Evolutionary History

Humanimal: How Homo sapiens Became Nature's Most Paradoxical Creature-A New Evolutionary History

by Adam Rutherford


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“Rutherford describes Humanimal as being about the paradox of how our evolutionary journey turned ‘an otherwise average ape’ into one capable of creating complex tools, art, music, science, and engineering. It’s an intriguing question, one his book sets against descriptions of the infinitely amusing strategies and antics of a dizzying array of animals.”—The New York Times Book Review

Publisher’s note: Humanimal was published in the UK under the title The Book of Humans.

Evolutionary theory has long established that humans are animals: Modern Homo sapiens are primates who share an ancestor with monkeys and other great apes. Our genome is 98 percent identical to a chimpanzee’s. And yet we think of ourselves as exceptional. Are we?

In this original and entertaining tour of life on Earth, Adam Rutherford explores the profound paradox of the “human animal.” Looking for answers across the animal kingdom, he finds that many things once considered exclusively human are not: In Australia, raptors have been observed starting fires to scatter prey; in Zambia, a chimp named Julie even started a “fashion” of wearing grass in one ear. We aren’t the only species that communicates, makes tools, or has sex for reasons other than procreation. But we have developed a culture far more complex than any other we’ve observed. Why has that happened, and what does it say about us?

Humanimal is a new evolutionary history—a synthesis of the latest research on genetics, sex, migration, and much more. It reveals what unequivocally makes us animals—and also why we are truly extraordinary.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781615195312
Publisher: The Experiment
Publication date: 03/19/2019
Pages: 256
Sales rank: 806,874
Product dimensions: 6.30(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Adam Rutherford, PhD, is a science writer and broadcaster. He studied genetics at University College London, and during his PhD on the developing eye, he was part of a team that identified the first known genetic cause of a form of childhood blindness. His previous books are A Brief History of Everyone Who Ever Lived—finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award in nonfiction—and Creation, which was shortlisted for the Wellcome Book Prize. He writes and presents BBC’s flagship weekly Radio 4 program Inside Science; The Cell for BBC Four; and Playing God (on the rise of synthetic biology) for the leading science series Horizon; in addition to writing for the Guardian.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations ix

Introduction 1

Part 1 Humans and Other Animals

Tools 19

What It Takes to Be a Maker 29

Tooled-Up Animals 34

Sponging Dolphins 37

The Birds 41

Fiery the Angels Fell 46

War for the Planet of the Apes 57

Farming and Fashion 66

Sex 77

The Birds and the Bees 83

Autoeroticism 90

Mouthing Off 95

Whole Lotta Love 99

Homosexuality 106

And Death Shall Have No Dominion 120

Sex and Violence 123

Part 2 The Paragon of Animals

Everyone Is Special 135

Genes, Bones, and Minds 139

24 - 2 = 23 143

Hands and Feet 153

Trippingly on the Tongue 157

Speak Now 165

Symbolism in Words 169

Symbolism Beyond Words 177

If Only You Could See What I've Seen with Your Eyes 187

Know Thyself 193

Je Ne Regrette Rien 197

Teach a Village to Fish … 203

The Paragon of Animals 209

Acknowledgments 217

References 219

Index 231

About the Author 246

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