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From The CriticsWhat 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.