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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.
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.