Neanderthal Man: In Search of Lost Genomes [NOOK Book]

Overview

A preeminent geneticist hunts the Neanderthal genome to answer the biggest question of them all: what does it mean to be human?

What can we learn from the genes of our closest evolutionary relatives? Neanderthal Man tells the story of geneticist Svante Pääbo’s mission to answer that question, beginning with the study of DNA in Egyptian mummies in the early 1980s and culminating in his sequencing of the Neanderthal genome in 2009. From Pääbo, ...
See more details below
Neanderthal Man: In Search of Lost Genomes

Available on NOOK devices and apps  
  • NOOK Devices
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK
  • NOOK HD/HD+ Tablet
  • NOOK
  • NOOK Color
  • NOOK Tablet
  • Tablet/Phone
  • NOOK for Windows 8 Tablet
  • NOOK for iOS
  • NOOK for Android
  • NOOK Kids for iPad
  • PC/Mac
  • NOOK for Windows 8
  • NOOK for PC
  • NOOK for Mac
  • NOOK for Web

Want a NOOK? Explore Now

NOOK Book (eBook)
$15.49
BN.com price
(Save 44%)$27.99 List Price

Overview

A preeminent geneticist hunts the Neanderthal genome to answer the biggest question of them all: what does it mean to be human?

What can we learn from the genes of our closest evolutionary relatives? Neanderthal Man tells the story of geneticist Svante Pääbo’s mission to answer that question, beginning with the study of DNA in Egyptian mummies in the early 1980s and culminating in his sequencing of the Neanderthal genome in 2009. From Pääbo, we learn how Neanderthal genes offer a unique window into the lives of our hominin relatives and may hold the key to unlocking the mystery of why humans survived while Neanderthals went extinct. Drawing on genetic and fossil clues, Pääbo explores what is known about the origin of modern humans and their relationship to the Neanderthals and describes the fierce debate surrounding the nature of the two species’ interactions.

A riveting story about a visionary researcher and the nature of scientific inquiry, Neanderthal Man offers rich insight into the fundamental question of who we are.
Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble

A prestigious scientific journal credited the author of this book with rescuing the reputation of Neanderthals, "a labor that elevated [them] from troglodyte brutes inhabiting a dead-end branch of the human family to a complex species that interbred with other hominins, including Homo sapiens." For readers of Svante Pääbo's Neanderthal Man, the geneticist's search for DNA evidence about our closest extinct species might prove to be just as fascinating as its impact on human history. (P.S. Time named the Leipzig-based researcher one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World.)

The New York Times Book Review - Carl Zimmer
In Neanderthal Man Paabo offers a fascinating account of the three decades of research that led from a secret hobby to a scientific milestone. The book follows the style of two previous memoirs by pioneering geneticists—James D. Watson's The Double Helix (1968) and J. Craig Venter's A Life Decoded (2007)…All three books are stories of scientific triumphs, but they're presented more like memoirs…For the most part, though, Neanderthal Man is a revealing history of a new scientific field.
Publishers Weekly
★ 11/11/2013
In 2010, Pääbo, the head of a team of more than 50 collaborators, published a landmark scientific paper that changed the way we think about human evolution. For the first time, the genome of an extinct form of human, a Neanderthal, was sequenced and offered to the world. Pääbo passionately chronicles his personal story, from graduate school through the culmination of the Neanderthal project 30 years later, and the scientific implications of this exciting research. Readers will despair with him over technical setbacks, agonize over possible methodological complications, and celebrate his final success. In accessible prose, Pääbo presents the science so that laypersons will understand the nature and import of his work. But it’s his discussion of the scientific process that steals the show. As he explains, “Science is far from the objective and impartial search for incontrovertible truths that nonscientists might imagine.” He discusses what it took to build a case tight enough to convince even the most skeptical of colleagues and he goes on to demonstrate that scientific knowledge is cumulative and ever-evolving, explaining why he freely released the entire genome: “I wanted everyone to be able to check every detail of what we had done. And I wanted them to do a better job if they could.” (Feb.)
From the Publisher

“Pääbo provides a riveting, personal account of the development of paleogenetics and the technical revolution that made the field possible.... Whether unacquainted with Pääbo’s work or regular followers of his publications, readers will find that Neanderthal Man provides a nonpareil account of the development of the field of ancient DNA.”
Science

“Pääbo’s book is well worth adding to your Summer reading list.”
John Farrell, Forbes.com

“In Neanderthal Man Pääbo offers a fascinating account of the three decades of research that led from a secret hobby to a scientific milestone.... Neanderthal Man is a revealing history of a new scientific field.”
Carl Zimmer, New York Times Book Review

“Pääbo has provided us with a fabulous account of three decade of research into ancient DNA, culminating in 2010 with the publication of the Neanderthal genome.... Pääbo’s book has to be compared to The Double Helix (1968), James Watson’s brilliant but controversial account of how the structure of DNA was discovered. When taken together they provide an insight into how bio-molecular science has both changed and remained much the same during the last half-century. Both are strong personal accounts of scientific discovery, exposing how science is driven as much by passion, ambition, and competition as by rational thought and the sharing of knowledge. In both books the reader is gripped by life stories of far greater interest than those in may novels before being plunged into passages of near-unintelligible science (despite much simplification) that are nevertheless strangely enthralling.”
Steven Mithen, New York Review of Books

“This is the fascinating account of Svante Pääbo’s efforts to sequence Neanderthal nuclear DNA.... [H]is personal story, from graduate to world-renowned scientist, make this a very enjoyable book.... The study of Neanderthals has kept palaeontologists occupied for more than a century, but Pääbo convinces us that decoding their DNA will provide insights into how different we are from them and what makes us so unique.”
BBC Focus

“[An] engaging book.... Neanderthal Man is devoted–and devoted is definitely the word–to the years-long ancient DNA project to sequence the Neanderthal genome. Pääbo and his far-flung team did that to an accuracy that exceeds most of the contemporary genomes being sequenced today.... Before I read Neanderthal Man, I thought I knew something about contamination of ancient DNA. In fact, though, I had no clue. No matter how well informed you are about genetics, Svante Pääbo will teach you things.”
Tabitha Powledge, PLOS Blogs / On Science Blogs

“I came for the cavemen, but I stayed for the geeky nail-biter of a story about doing historic science in a climate of fierce international competition and rapid technological innovation.... Truth be told, DNA sequencing is pretty wonky stuff, but perhaps it’s Pääbo’s own passionate investment in the undertaking that makes his story so exciting to read about; Neanderthal Man does for paleogenetics something like what Steven Spielberg did for the legislative process in Lincoln.... [T]his book is a vibrant testimonial to what might be the greatest creation of modern humans: the scientific method.”
Laura Miller, Salon

“Much of Pääbo’s book is devoted to the details of the difficulties [of extracting DNA from ancient bones], and how they were overcome by an awesome combination of technology, ingenuity and persistence. It’s a story of how modern high-concept science is done, shot through with the crackle of problem-solving and the hum of project tension, with occasional riffs of annoyance about major scientific journals and people who want dinosaur DNA.”
The Independent (UK)

“[A]n excellent glimpse into how modern science proceeds as a global, social activity.... Pääbo has to navigate through collaborators and competitors (including people who spend time in both categories), guardians of the bones he wants to grind into dust, touchy issues of nationalism, and more. In the process, he helps found a new research institute and builds a team dedicated to studying ancient DNA. If anyone doubts that science is a social activity, the doubt won’t survive reading this book.... Pääbo paints a picture of how a major scientific advance rose out of a mix of politics, persuasion, careful management, and struggles with technology and technique. For that alone, it’s valuable.”
Ars Technica

“If there is one name associated with ancient DNA, it is Svante Pääbo.... Pääbo pioneered and has largely led the field for the past three decades. His book, Neanderthal Man, is perfectly timed, beautifully written and required reading—it is a window onto the genesis of a whole new way of thinking.”
Nature

“If Pääbo weren’t such a good storyteller, the book might have bogged down with descriptions of things like the different techniques of polymerase chain reaction, and all it takes to build a clean lab. But he’s a clever enough writer to keep the reader’s attention with a fast-paced story and wonderful details.”
23andMe blog

“This is a fascinating story of how modern science and especially computer technology is opening vistas onto our prehistoric history.”
The Explorers Journal

“Pääbo provides a fascinating look at how his personal life intersected with the founding of a scientific field that has revolutionized evolution.”
Science News

“In Neanderthal Man, Svante Pääbo offers readers a front-row seat to the still-unfolding understanding of this enigmatic human ancestor by recounting his own years of work.... Pääbo quite candidly relays the doubts and challenges that accompanied more than a decade of discovery—a labor that elevated Neanderthals from troglodyte brutes inhabiting a dead-end branch of the human family tree to a complex species that interbred with other hominins, including Homo sapiens. Never one to shy away from provocative statements or even-more-provocative research, Pääbo gives what appears to be an honest and open account of his pioneering studies of Neanderthal genetics.”
The Scientist

“Evolutionary biologists are, general, pretty interesting people to talk to, but rarely would you describe their lives as thrilling. The notion of combining an autobiography with a popular science book may therefore not seem especially compelling. However, in this case both the author and the science are quite extraordinary, and inextricably linked.”
Evening Standard (UK)

“Pääbo’s tale describes a process approaching the Platonic Idea of contemporary science: a lot of very smart people collaboratively working their butts off, persisting through mistakes and failures and numbingly repetitive but essential tasks and political machinations and technological inadequacies because they believe the Truth is Out There. And finally finding it. Others have not yet weighed in, and this being top-level and therefore monumentally competitive science, contrarians may well emerge. But if the Neanderthal genome project was anything like what Pääbo describes, we are damn lucky.”
Tabitha Powledge, Genetic Literacy Project

“Pääbo passionately chronicles his personal story, from graduate school through the culmination of the Neanderthal project 30 years later, and the scientific implications of this exciting research.... In accessible prose, Pääbo presents the science so that laypersons will understand the nature and import of his work. But it’s his discussion of the scientific process that steals the show.... He discusses what it took to build a case tight enough to convince even the most skeptical of colleagues and he goes on to demonstrate that scientific knowledge is cumulative and ever-evolving.”
Publishers Weekly, starred review

“[A] revealing glimpse into the inner workings of scientific research.... Since Neanderthals are our closest evolutionary relatives, the author’s work in decoding Neanderthal DNA gives scientists a way to understand how we differ genetically from them and offers the opportunity to learn what genetic changes have made humans unique on this planet.”
Kirkus Reviews

"The tale Pääbo tells is largely one of technological improvement enabling the elimination of contamination and speeding up the sequencing process. Secondarily, it’s about creating scientific foundations and multinational scientific cooperation to pursue the promises of research into ancient DNA, including that of nonhuman species as well as hominins.”
Booklist

“It is a rare thing to read about an important development in science by its principal innovator, written in the spirit and style in which the research unfolded. Neanderthal Man is a dispatch from the front, and if you want to learn how real science is really done, I suggest you read it.”
Edward O. Wilson, University Research Professor, Emeritus, Harvard University

“Svante Pääbo’s Neanderthal Man is the incredible personal story of one man’s quest for our human origins using the latest genome sequence tools. Pääbo takes us through his exciting journey to first extract DNA from ancient bones then sequence it to give us the first real glance at our human ancestors, and showing ultimately that early humans and Neanderthals interbred to produce modern humans. This is science at its best and reinforces that contained in each of our genomes is the history of humanity.”
J. Craig Venter, Chairman and President, J. Craig Venter Institute

“Svante Pääbo, a major architect in the study of paleo-DNA, has written a personal, insightful and sometimes very frank book about his relentless quest to understand the human family tree. The first scholar to extract genetic material from Neanderthals, Pääbo writes candidly about the seemingly insurmountable trials and tribulations he had to overcome to give us intriguing new insights into human origins.”
Donald Johanson, Founding Director of the Institute of Human Origins, Arizona State University, and author of Lucy: The Beginnings of Humankind

“Problem by problem, solution by solution, Paäbo’s gripping account of the discovery of our relationship with Neanderthals brilliantly conveys the thrill and reality of today’s big science and the excitement of a major breakthrough.”
Richard Wrangham, Professor of Biological Anthropology, Harvard University, and author of Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human

Neanderthal Man opens with this episode [when Pääbo and his team first sequenced Neanderthal DNA], and it’s a nice touch by Pääbo, bringing us straight to the moment when his long, painstaking effort to tease ancient DNA out of hominin fossils yielded its first dramatic results.”
David Quammen, Harper's

Library Journal
01/01/2014
Paabo (director, dept. of genetics, Max Planck Inst. for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig) presents a scientific memoir of his—and his colleagues'—work in paleogenetics as they seek to learn more about those humans who populated the Northern Hemispheres before we did: Were Neanderthals our ancestors? He relates the progress of his own career in DNA studies from his native Sweden to Germany to the University of California, Berkeley, and eventually to the recently founded Max Planck Institute in Leipzig, as he describes challenges and accomplishments in finding and identifying ancient DNA. Along the way, readers behold the complex web of cooperation and competition among scientists, the politics of submission to the top journals, and the ego in assigning species status to a discovery, as well as Paabo's lack of faith in paleontologists: they develop evolutionary theories from bone morphologies, while Paabo's ilk seek the realities of the DNA story. Yet it's clear that the retrieving, amplifying, and sequencing of ancient DNA are fraught with their own potentials for error. The technicalities of paleogenetics deepen as the chapters progress. Some readers may be forgiven if they skip ahead to the final two chapters, where the drama of Denisovan discoveries is palpable. VERDICT Scientific understanding of earlier humans is fast evolving. For the nonce, this is a go-to volume on the subject for serious readers. (P.S. In spite of the title, the DNA of Neanderthal women is crucial—as Paabo well knows!)—Margaret Heilbrun, Library Journal
Kirkus Reviews
2013-12-14
A dense account of the efforts to decode Neanderthal DNA and a revealing glimpse into the inner workings of scientific research. Pääbo (Director, Department of Genetics/Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology), a Swedish biologist specializing in evolutionary genetics, developed techniques for sequencing DNA from extinct creatures. After years of work, his research group succeeded in sequencing the Neanderthal genome. Since Neanderthals are our closest evolutionary relatives, the author's work in decoding Neanderthal DNA gives scientists a way to understand how we differ genetically from them and offers the opportunity to learn what genetic changes have made humans unique on this planet. At first, Pääbo faced enormous difficulties, and he relates how he assembled a team of researchers with the right talents, how specimens were obtained, how they coped with the serious matter of contamination, how they dealt with numerous technical problems, and how high-throughput DNA sequencing helped them to coax DNA from ancient bones. As he makes clear, science is a social endeavor in which both competition and cooperation operate, and he does not hide his anxiety about getting his findings published first. His Neanderthal genome paper, published in 2010, received wide attention from scientists and nonscientists alike, and the debate about the interactions between our ancestors and Neanderthals continues. Questions remain: Why did Neanderthals go extinct, and why is Neanderthal DNA present in small amounts in modern humans? In a chapter that feels like a late add-on, Pääbo explores the story of the bones of a different kind of extinct human found in Denisova Cave in Siberia in 2010, which raises more questions about the history of human evolution. For nonscientists, grasping the details of the technical problems facing Pääbo and his research group is no easy matter, but the larger question of the significance of his work makes the book worthwhile.
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780465080687
  • Publisher: Basic Books
  • Publication date: 2/11/2014
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 65,299
  • File size: 3 MB

Meet the Author

Svante Pääbo is the founder of the field of ancient DNA. The director of the department of genetics at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Pääbo has been featured in the New York Times, Newsweek, and The Economist, as well as on NPR, PBS, and BBC. In 2009 Time named him one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World. Pääbo lives in Leipzig, Germany.
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(0)

4 Star

(0)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 5, 2014

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)