The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Human Evolution / Edition 1

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Overview

This is a new and refreshing introduction to the human species that places modern humans squarely in evolutionary perspective and treats evolution itself as a continuing genetic process in which every one of us is involved. Over seventy scholars worldwide have collaborated on the Encyclopedia, which is divided into ten main sections. Following a keynote introduction asking simply What makes us human?, the coverage ranges widely: from genetics, primatology and fossil origins to human biology and ecology, brain function and behavior, and demography and disease. Emphasis is placed throughout on the biological diversity of modern people and the increasing convergence of the fossil and genetic evidence for human evolution that has emerged in recent years. Because of the need to look at humankind in the context of our closest relatives, the Encyclopedia also pays particular attention to the evolution and ecology of the living primates--lemurs, lorises, monkeys and apes. It deals with the evolution and ecology of human society, as reconstructed from archaeological remains, and from studies of indigenous peoples and living primates today. It considers the biology of uniquely human abilities such as language and upright walking, and it reviews the biological future of humankind in the face of challenges greater than those ever before experienced. Boxes highlighting key issues and techniques are provided throughout the text, and there are numerous maps, photographs, diagrams, and ready-reference tables--all the reader needs in a single volume to acquire a comprehensive knowledge of how humankind has developed and how scientists set about investigating the origin of our species.

Appropriate for: Clinical Geneticists.

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Editorial Reviews

From The Critics
What makes us human? The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Human Evolution draws on the expertise of more than 70 scholars to answer this question, placing modern humans in evolutionary perspective. Divided into 10 parts, such as patterns of primate evolution, the primate fossil record, and early human behavior and ecology, this book resembles a textbook more than an encyclopedia. Each part is further subdivided into such topics as classification of primates, evolution of apes, and how bones reveal diet.

Articles average three to five pages in length and include a variety of black-and-white photographs, graphs, and drawings. Each article is signed by a leading academic in the field. "See" references are used at the end of each article to connect related articles within the volume; however, no references exist to outside sources or primary literature. The volume also provides three appendixes: select biographical information on historical figures, a geologic time scale, and a world map of relevant research sites. The encyclopedia ends with a useful glossary, an excellent list of further readings, and a detailed index.

Many library reference collections will already include Milner's Encyclopedia of Evolution [RBB Ja 1 91] and The Encyclopedia of Human Evolution and Prehistory, edited by Tattersall [RBB Fe 1 89]. Both these volumes approach the topic of human evolution with brief articles presented in alphabetical order. They provide quicker access and often unique information on such concepts as aggregation dispersal or on methodology, such as cladistics.

In contrast, The Cambridge Encyclopedia covers human ecology through broad topical articles. Topically, this new encyclopedia seems stronger on most behavior issues and provides more extensive attention to the evolution and ecology of relevant living primates, such as lemurs and monkeys. In addition, it is more up-to-date on such controversies as "Mitochondrial Eve." The academic approach and article length of The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Human Evolution will appeal most to university and research libraries.

From the Publisher
"This book is unquestionably the best reference work dedicated to human evolution yet published....The stunning computer-generated composite image of human and chimpanzee faces that graces the cover illustrates the unmistakable link between humans and other primates that is emphasized on the pages within....The book resembles and reads like a textbook as much as an encyclopedia....This work is a comprehensive catalog of present knowledge and thus an absolutely essential source for all libraries." Library Journal

"...this Cambridge title offers a wide-ranging introduction to the field...both comprehensive and usable...This work is highly recommended for general and research libraries of all types...The authoritative source material is both readable and accurate within the framework of current data." Laurel Grozinger, American Reference Books Annual

"...succeeds admirably....a fascinating and beautiful introduction to human evolution in its broadest context....a useful reference for anyone interested in the subject." John G. Fleagle, The Quarterly Review of Biology

"In all, this is an essential purchase for any anthropology library." The Times Higher Education Supplement

"If (whether student or professional) you're interested in human evolution, you'll want to have this volume handy." Ian Tattersall, Nature

"...I can think of no more useful guide to the research topics of general human evolution. Individually and collectively the essays are readable and scholarly, and the stylistic presentation is highly professional. At the very least it should be on the required reading list for courses on human evolution, for teachers and students alike." Walter Carl Hartwig, Evolutionary Anthropology

"...a fine book; a worthy addition to the excellent Cambridge Encyclopedia series. Great to have on the shelves." Colin Tudge, New Scientist

"...covers human ecology through broad topical articles. Topically, this new encyclopedia seems stronger on most behavior issues and provides more extensive attention to the evolution and ecology of relevant living primates, such as lemurs and monkeys. In addition, it is more up to date on such controversies as 'Mitochondrial Eve.' The academic approach and article length of The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Human Evolution will appeal most to university and research libraries." Booklist

"...succeeds in providing truly 'encyclopedic' coverage of the whole gamut of human evolutionary studies....The quality of the writing is, for the most part, excellent, and the editors and contributing authors are to be commended for creating a volume that will be truly useful to a wide range of readers within anthropology, including graduate and undergraduate students as well as professors....I heartily recommend this volume to all anthropologists and university librarians. There is no better single source that I am aware of for finding brief, accurate, and current synopses of the issues, problems, and methods of analysis within the domain of human evolutionary studies." Robert L. Anemone, American Journal of Physical Anthropology

"...a valuable reference book for anyone working in the field of human evolution." Keren R. Rosenberg, American Journal of Human Biology

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521323703
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 1/28/1992
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 520
  • Product dimensions: 8.46 (w) x 10.98 (h) x 1.46 (d)

Table of Contents

1. Introduction: what makes us human?; 2. Patterns of primate evolution; 3. The life of primates; 4. The brain and language; 5. Primate social organisation; 6. Human evolution in geological context; 7. The primate fossil record; 8. Primate genetics and evolution; 9. Genetic clues of relatedness; 10. Early human behaviour and ecology; 11. Human populations, past and present; 12. Conclusion: the evolutionary future of humankind.

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