The Fruit, the Tree, and the Serpent

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Harvard University Press, 2009 - Science - 207 pages
The worldwide prominence of snakes in religion, myth, and folklore underscores our deep connection to the serpent - but why, when so few of us have firsthand experience? The surprising answer, this book suggests, lies in the singular impact of snakes on primate evolution. Predation pressure from snakes, Lynne Isbell tells us, is ultimately responsible for the superior vision and large brains of primates - and for a critical aspect of human evolution.
 

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The author, Lynne A. Isbell, is presenting a theory about how she thinks snakes helped shape our evolution in a large way, particularly in the area of sight and, as a consequence of that, our large ... Read full review

Contents

1 Introduction
1
2 Primate Biogeography
9
3 Why Did Primates Evolve?
36
4 Primate Vision
44
5 Origins of Modern Predators
68
6 Vision and Fear
77
7 Venomous Snakes and Anthropoid Primates
94
8 Why Only Primates?
112
9 Testing the Snake Detection Theory
125
Implications for Humans
145
Neurological Terms and Some of Their Functions
155
References
157
Acknowledgments
201
Index
203
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About the author (2009)

Lynne A. Isbell is Professor of Anthropology and Animal Behavior, University of California, Davis.

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