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Eco Homo : How the Human Being Emerged from the Cataclysmic History of the Earth

Eco Homo : How the Human Being Emerged from the Cataclysmic History of the Earth - 97 edition

ISBN13: 978-0465018048

Cover of Eco Homo : How the Human Being Emerged from the Cataclysmic History of the Earth 97 (ISBN 978-0465018048)
ISBN13: 978-0465018048
ISBN10: 0465018041
Cover type:
Edition/Copyright: 97
Publisher: Basic Books, Inc.
Published: 1997
International: No

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Eco Homo : How the Human Being Emerged from the Cataclysmic History of the Earth - 97 edition

ISBN13: 978-0465018048

Noel T. Boaz

ISBN13: 978-0465018048
ISBN10: 0465018041
Cover type:
Edition/Copyright: 97
Publisher: Basic Books, Inc.

Published: 1997
International: No
Summary

Did you ever wonder why people walk upright? Why we have such big brains? Why some people have dark skin and some have light? Why our early ancestors ever left Africa and started wandering over the globe? And perhaps even why we, with all our technological sophistication, still like to barbecue raw meat over an open fire? This book is about the immense forces of nature that formed and shaped the human species over millions of years. It is also about the new high-tech science that has allowed us to peer into the dark recesses of the past as never before and to reconstruct the trials, adaptive successes, and evolution of our ancestors. In Eco Homo, paleoanthroplogist Noel T. Boaz presents a narrative of human evolution, a natural history of our origins, in the contexts of ecology and environmental change. Our story begins with the appearance of higher primates in the Old World tropics. We then narrow our focus to Africa and examine eight hypotheses that explain the major evolutionary divergences of the gorilla, the chimpanzee, and finally human ancestors, or hominids. The events in this evolution only make sense from a standpoint of the adaptations that our ancestors made to changing environments, different geography, and fluctuating climates.

Ecological change, characterized by increasingly severe environmental fluctuations of greater and greater amplitude during the late Pleistocene period, forced the evolution of culture as we know it. Culture in the hands of the first agriculturists 10,000 years ago increased population densities, created diseases unknown to earlier hominids, built the first villages and temples, and gave humans the pervasive misconception that they were above the laws of nature, even as they rushed headlong into a despoilment of their habitat unknown in any other species. The message of Eco Homo for the ecological future of the species is that we cannot escape nature. If we attempt to do so-to step outside the bounds of our basic biological adaptations-we suffer the consequences. Culture needs to be brought under control and to be made to serve human adaptation, not vice versa. If we can tame runaway culture, we may be able to regain a measure of the ancestral equilibrium between our adaptations and a sustainable environment.



Author Bio

Boaz, Noel T. : International Institute for Human Evolutionary Research, Bend, Oregon

Noel T. Boaz, PH.D., is director of the International Institute for Human Evolutionary Research in Bend, Oregon. He has taught at NYU, UCLA, George Washington University, and the University of Oregon, where he is adjunct professor of anthropology. He is also professor of anatomical sciences at Saba Universtiy School of Medicine in the Netherlands Antilles. He is the author of numerous professional publications, including the textbook Biological Anthropology: A Synthetic Approach to Human Evolution. He is currently researching the earliest hominid divergence in Africa, the paleoecological context of hominid dispersal to Eurasia, and evolutionary medicine.

Table of Contents

Introduction


Ecological Changes and Primate Evolution: The Prime Movers of Change
Hypothesis 1: The Earth cools and the Gorilla Evolves in Montane Isolation
Hypothesis 2: the African Western Rift Valley Split Human Ancestors Off from Chimps
Hypothesis 3: The Developing Sahara Split Hominids Off from Chimps
Hypothesis 4: Austalopithecines Adapt to an Expanding Savanna-Grassland Environment
Hypothesis 5: The 2.8-Million-Year-Old Paleoclimatic Event Effects the Evolutionary Origin of the Genus Homo
Hypothesis 6: "A Paleoclimatic Pump" Expels Homo Erectus out of Africa
Hypothesis 7: Neandertals and Mitochondrial Eve Dance a Pas de Deux to the Rhythm of Climate Change
Hypothesis 8: Superorganic Culture Allows Modern Humans to Conquer the Ice Age and the New World
Implications: Future Human Evolution, Overpopulation, Global Warming, Pollution, and Our Ecological Survival

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