The 10,000 Year Explosion: How Civilization Accelerated Human Evolution

The 10,000 Year Explosion: How Civilization Accelerated Human Evolution

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by Gregory Cochran, Henry Harpending
     
 

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Scientists have long believed that the "great leap forward"-some 40,000 to 50,000 years ago in Europe-marked the end of significant biological evolution in humans. In this stunning account of our evolutionary history, leading anthropology professors Gregory Cochran and Henry Harpending reject this conventional wisdom and reveal that the human species has undergone

Overview

Scientists have long believed that the "great leap forward"-some 40,000 to 50,000 years ago in Europe-marked the end of significant biological evolution in humans. In this stunning account of our evolutionary history, leading anthropology professors Gregory Cochran and Henry Harpending reject this conventional wisdom and reveal that the human species has undergone a storm of recent genetic change. Ranging across subjects as diverse as human-Neanderthal hybridization, the evolution of intelligence, and even the prominent role of milk in human history, Cochran and Harpending demonstrate convincingly that not only has human evolution not stopped, it has exploded.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

John Derbyshire, author of Prime Obsession
"Did human evolution come to a screeching halt fifty thousand years ago when Homo sapiens emerged from Africa, thus ensuring the psychic unity of mankind? Don't be silly, say the authors of this latest addition to the fast-emerging discipline of Biohistory. In clear prose backed by a wealth of hard data, Cochran and Harpending add a biological dimension to the history of our species, and hammer another nail into the coffin lid of 'nothing but culture' anthropology."

Bruce G. Charlton, MD; Professor of Theoretical Medicine, University of Buckingham, Editor in Chief of Medical Hypotheses
The 10,000 Year Explosion offers scientists and historians a new and fertile direction for future research, and provides the general public with a better explanation of the past, present, and future of human beings.... I was motivated to read the entire book in a single marathon session.”

John Hawks, author of Human Evolution
“For years, human geneticists have been uncovering a picture of human evolution. But now, Gregory Cochran and Henry Harpending are encouraging us to 'fast forward' the discussion."

Booklist
“A most intriguing deposition, without a trace of ethnic or racial advocacy, though directed against the proposition that ‘we’re all the same.’"

Publishers Weekly
“There is much here to recommend…and their arguments are intriguing throughout…it's clear that this lively, informative text is not meant to deceive (abundant references and a glossary also help) but to provoke thought, debate and possibly wonder.”

Wall Street Journal
“Important and fascinating…the provocative ideas in The 10,000 Year Explosion must be taken seriously by anyone who wants to understand human origins and humanity's future.”

Seed
The 10,000 Year Explosion would be important even if it were only about population genetics and evolutionary biology, but Gregory Cochran and Henry Harpending…have written something more. This book is a manifesto for and an example of a new kind of history, a biological history, and not just of the prehistoric era.”

New Scientist
“The evidence the authors present builds an overwhelming case that natural selection has recently acted strongly on us and may be continuing unabated.”

Melvin Konner, MD, PhD, author of The Tangled Wing and The Jewish Body
“For generations, scientists have seen culture as slowing or halting evolution. In this lively and provocative book, Cochran and Harpending, interpreting recent genetic evidence, stick a stiff finger into the eye that holds that view. Their ideas will be intensely controversial, but they cannot be ignored."

Most of us regard human evolution as past tense, a series of prehistoric events that culminated in the species that now dominates the earth. Scientists Henry Harpending and Gregory Cochran think that this "done deal" mind-set ignores very real genetic evidence that evolution is not only continuing but is actually accelerating. Citing examples as disparate as blue eyes and resistance to malaria, they describe how the storm of change continues to ripple through our species. Some of their conclusions raise highly contentious issues: They argue, for instance, that natural selection during medieval times enhanced the intelligence and creativity of Ashkenazi Jews. A breakthrough certain to be widely debated.
Publishers Weekly
Arguing that human genetic evolution is still ongoing, physicist-turned-evolutionary biologist Cochran and anthropologist Harpending marshal evidence for dramatic genetic change in the (geologically) recent past, particularly since the invention of agriculture. Unfortunately, much of their argument-including the origin of modern humans, agriculture, and Indo-Europeans-tends to neglect archaeological and geological evidence; readers should keep in mind that assumed time frames, like the age of the human species, are minimums at best and serious underestimates at worst. That said, there is much here to recommend, including the authors' unique approach to the question of modern human-Neanderthal interbreeding, and their discussion of the genetic pressures on Ashkenazi Jews over the past 1,000 years, both based solidly in fact. They also provide clear explanations for tricky concepts like gene flow and haplotypes, and their arguments are intriguing throughout. Though lapses in their case won't be obvious to the untrained eye, it's clear that this lively, informative text is not meant to deceive (abundant references and a glossary also help) but to provoke thought, debate and possibly wonder.
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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780465020423
Publisher:
Basic Books
Publication date:
10/19/2010
Edition description:
First Trade Paper Edition
Pages:
256
Sales rank:
254,389
Product dimensions:
6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 0.90(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

Meet the Author


Gregory Cochran is a physicist and Adjunct Professor of Anthropology at the University of Utah. For many years, he worked on lasers and image enhancement in the field of aerospace. He lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Henry Harpending holds the Thomas Chair as Distinguished Professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Utah. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences. A field anthropologist and population geneticist, he helped develop the “Out of Africa” theory of human origins. He lives in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Gregory Cochran and Henry Harpending’s research has been featured in the New York Times, The Economist, Los Angeles Times, Jerusalem Post, Atlantic Monthly, Science, Seed, and more.

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10,000 Year Explosion: How Civilization Accelerated Human Evolution 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
iron75 More than 1 year ago
Well written. Wish I would have bought the paperback version so I could physically leaf through the book. Anyone interested in human evolution during the last 50,000 years will find this book intriguing.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is creative in the sense that is presents a different and radical version of human evolution. I would recommend it to those interested in evolution and believe in evolution and would like to see a new aspect of it. It does fail to provide concrete evidence to support a theory most of it is based on assumptions. They did however provide some interesting examples that could or might support their theory yet I still think they should have waited to publish this book and done more research because I am not entirely convinced of this new theory of human evolution. Some parts of the books are confusing and may require rereading and patience. The theory provided may seem like a possibility but that is all it is, a probable possibility.