The Humans Who Went Extinct: Why Neanderthals Died Out and We Survived

Overview


Hailed by Dan Agin in The Huffington Post as "fascinating...electrifying...an apocalyptic vision that puts a chill down one's back," this provocative book offers a new perspective on the extinction of the Neanderthals. Today, we think of Neanderthals as crude and clumsy, easily driven to extinction by the lithe, smart humans who came out of Africa some 100,000 years ago. But Clive Finlayson reminds us that the Neanderthals were another kind of human, and their culture was not so very different from that of our ...
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The Humans Who Went Extinct: Why Neanderthals died out and we survived

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Overview


Hailed by Dan Agin in The Huffington Post as "fascinating...electrifying...an apocalyptic vision that puts a chill down one's back," this provocative book offers a new perspective on the extinction of the Neanderthals. Today, we think of Neanderthals as crude and clumsy, easily driven to extinction by the lithe, smart humans who came out of Africa some 100,000 years ago. But Clive Finlayson reminds us that the Neanderthals were another kind of human, and their culture was not so very different from that of our own ancestors. In this book, he presents a wider view of the events that led to the migration of the moderns into Europe, what might have happened during the contact between the two populations, and what finally drove the Neanderthals to extinction. It is a view that considers climate, ecology, and migrations of populations, as well as culture and interaction. His conclusion is that the destiny of the Neanderthals was sealed by ecological factors--in short, a major climate change--and it was a matter of luck that we survived while they perished.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
A cave on Gibraltar 28,000 years ago was one of the final homes of the Neanderthals. Finlayson, director of the Gibraltar Museum, uses his knowledge of that cave and others like it to explore the differences and similarities between modern humans and Neanderthals, and how the differences led to our surviving them. Presenting a host of data, he draws a single conclusion: modern humans weren't brighter, stronger or more capable than Neanderthals. Rather, we were luckier. Scattered around Europe, Neanderthals probably succumbed to various factors, from disease to drastic climate change—changes that led to an environment more friendly to Homo sapiens. Finlayson does a superb job of describing the factors behind the expansion of the genus Homo and its diversification into various species, of which only Homo sapiens survives today. He also offers a powerful critique of those who theorize differently about the expansion of our species with very little data. Finally, he challenges us to rethink early human migration around the globe, arguing that the pattern we see is simply a modest expansion, generation by generation, as environmental conditions permitted. In his hands the links between climate and evolutionary change are strikingly clear. 5 b&w illus. (Nov.)
From the Publisher

"Great things can arrive in small packages. The Humans Who Went Extinct is a case in point. Engaging and well written, this volume will be essential reading for anyone interested in human evolution. It is an essential purchase for college and university libraries."--The Quarterly Review of Biology

"Finlayson does a superb job of describing the factors behind the expansion of the genus Homo and its diversification into various species, of which only Homo sapiens survives today. He also offers a powerful critique of those who theorize differently about the expansion of our species with very little data. In his hands, the links between climate and evolutionary change are stikingly clear."--Publishers Weekly

"A provocative new book." --Newsweek

Listed in Science Book News No. 178, 11/16/09

"Finlayson has written a fascinating new book...electrifying...an apocalyptic vision that puts a chill down one's back. But a book that makes you think remains one of the reasons to get up in the morning. Have a look at this one." --Dan Agin, The Huffington Post

"Here is a provocative work, which will not only teach, but leave readers wanting to learn more." --San Francisco Book Review

"Well written with endnotes from research sources. Recommended."--Choice

"What I like in particular about Finlayson's work is that he contextualises the various stages of the human lineage (although pointing out controversies in the fossil record where they exist) in terms of the climate and immediate environment. I liken this to the approach of a strategist who like an eagle soars high above the visage seeing the overall scheme of things. This is a well-researched book generously referenced, filled with rich biological analogies and an overarching narrative which applies equally to non-human species." --Medpedia.com

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780199239191
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 12/9/2010
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 667,004
  • Product dimensions: 5.10 (w) x 7.60 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Clive Finlayson, a noted expert on the Neanderthals, is Director of the Gibraltar Museum and Adjunct Professor at the University of Toronto.

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Table of Contents

1. The road to extinction is paved with good intentions
2. Once we were not alone
3. Failed experiments
4. Stick to what you know best
5. Being in the right place at the right time
6. If only...
7. Africa in Europe - a Mediterranean Serengeti
8. One small step for man...
9. Forever opportunists
10. The pawn turned player
Epilogue: Children of Chance
Endnotes

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 6, 2012

    Really good.

    Really good book. A little preechy in conclusions, but really well researched and presented.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 22, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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