Last Ape Standing: The Seven-Million-Year Story of How and Why We Survived

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Bloomsbury Publishing USA, Jan 29, 2013 - History - 220 pages
3 Reviews
Over the past 180 years scientists have sifted through evidence that at least twenty-seven human species have evolved on planet Earth. And as you may have noticed, twenty-six of them are no longer with us, done in by their environment, predators, disease, or the unfortunate shortcomings of their DNA. What enabled us to survive when so many other human species were shown the evolutionary door? Last Ape Standing: The Seven-Million-Year Story of How and Why We Survived by acclaimed science journalist Chip Walter tells the intriguing tale of how against all odds and despite nature's brutal and capricious ways we stand here today, the only surviving humans, and the planet's most dominant species.

Drawing on a wide variety of scientific disciplines, Walter reveals how a rare evolutionary phenomenon led to the uniquely long childhoods that make us so resourceful and emotionally complex. He looks at why we developed a new kind of mind and how our highly social nature has shaped our moral (and immoral) behavior. And in exploring the traits that enabled our success, he plumbs the roots of our creativity and investigates why we became self-aware in ways that no other animal is. Along the way, Last Ape Standing profiles other human species who evolved with us and who have also shaped our kind in startling ways - the Neanderthals of Europe, the "Hobbits" of Indonesia, the Denisovans of Siberia, and the recently discovered Red Deer Cave people of China, who died off just as we stood at the brink of civilizations eleven thousand years ago.

Last Ape Standing
is an engaging and accessible story that explores the forces that molded us into the peculiar and astonishing creature that we are.

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User Review  - Kassilem - LibraryThing

I liked this book. Especially the first half. The second half got a little too far from science and more into guessing but overall the whole two hundred pages had me interested. There are some facts ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - puttocklibrary - LibraryThing

An interesting and very readable book about the known origins and evolution of human ancestors. Many newer discoveries and theories about their possible significance added to this book for me, as some of the discoveries I was completely unaware of. Read full review


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About the author (2013)

Chip Walter is the founder of the popular website, a former CNN bureau chief, screenwriter, and documentary filmmaker. His articles have appeared in the Boston Globe, the Economist, the Wall Street Journal,Scientific American,Slate,and numerous other publications and websites. He is author of three books, most recentlyThumbs, Toes, and Tears, and his writing has been published in eight languages. He lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, with his wife Cyndy and their four children.Visit his website at

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