Masters of the Planet: The Search for Our Human Origins

Front Cover
St. Martin's Press, Mar 27, 2012 - Science - 288 pages

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.

 

What people are saying - Write a review

User ratings

5 stars
7
4 stars
9
3 stars
1
2 stars
0
1 star
0

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - sgtbigg - LibraryThing

Tattersall does a good job of explaining where we came from and how we got here in (mostly) understandable language. I very much enjoyed this book. Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - DanielleMD - LibraryThing

A fascinating, enlightening glimpse into the evolution of man. It was educational, easy to read/understand, and unexpectedly emotional. I really enjoyed this book! Read full review

Contents

One Ancient Origins
1
Two The Rise of the Bipedal Apes
25
Three Early Hominid Lifestyles and the Interior World
45
Four Australopith Variety
69
Five Striding Out
81
Six Life on the Savanna
105
Seven Out of Africa and Back
119
Eight The First Cosmopolitan Hominid
135
Eleven Archaic and Modern
179
Twelve Enigmatic Arrival
185
Thirteen The Origin of Symbolic Behavior
199
Fourteen In the Beginning Was the Word
207
Coda
227
Acknowledgments
233
Notes and Bibliography
235
Index
257

Nine Ice Ages and Early Europeans
145
Ten Who Were the Neanderthals?
159

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2012)

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.

Bibliographic information