Humankind: How Biology and Geography Shape Human Diversity

Humankind: How Biology and Geography Shape Human Diversity

by Alexander H. Harcourt


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Humankind: How Biology and Geography Shape Human Diversity by Alexander H. Harcourt

An innovative and illuminating look at how the evolution of the human species has been shaped by the world around us, from anatomy and physiology, to cultural diversity and population density.Where did the human species originate? Why are tropical peoples much more diverse than those at polar latitudes? Why can only Japanese peoples digest seaweed? How are darker skin, sunlight, and fertility related? Did Neanderthals and Homo Sapiens ever interbreed? In Humankind, U. C. Davis professor Alexander Harcourt answers these questions and more, as he explains how the expansion of the human species around the globe and our interaction with our environment explains much about why humans differ from one region of the world to another, not only biologically, but culturally.
What effects have other species had on the distribution of humans around the world, and we, in turn, on their distribution? And how have human populations affected each other’s geography, even existence? For the first time in a single book, Alexander Harcourt brings these topics together to help us understand why we are, what we are, where we are.It turns out that when one looks at humanity's expansion around the world, and in the biological explanations for our geographic diversity, we humans are often just another primate. Humanity's distribution around the world and the type of organism we are today has been shaped by the same biogeographical forces that shape other species.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781681771625
Publisher: Pegasus Books
Publication date: 05/03/2016
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 368
Sales rank: 1,193,154
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.10(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Alexander H. Harcourt is Professor Emeritus in the Anthropology Department at the University of California, Davis. He is the coauthor of Gorilla Society and Human Biogeography and co-editor of Coalitions and Alliances in Humans and Other Animals. He lives in Davis, California.

Table of Contents

1 Prologue: Where We Are Going-And Why 1

2 We Are All African: The Birthplace of Humankind 9

3 From Hereto There and Back Again: A Mostly Coastal Route Out of Africa-Across the World? 43

4 How Do We Know What We Think We Know?: The Science Behind the "Facts" 72

5 Variety is the Spice of Life: Where We Are Affects What We Are 90

6 Gene Maps and Roads Less Traveled: Barriers to Movement Maintain Diversity 126

7 Is Man Merely a Monkey?: Human Cultural Diversity Varies across the Globe in the Same Way and for the Same Reasons as Biological Diversity 148

8 Islands are Special: Size and Metabolism in a Small Environment 173

9 We Are What We Eat: Our Diet Affects Our Genes, and Different Regions Eat Different Foods 195

10 What Doesn't Kill Us Halts Us or Moves Us: Other Species Influence Where We Can Live 213

11 Had, Bad, and Dangerous to Know: We are Bad for Many Species, Even If We Help a Few 230

12 Conquest and Cooperation: Humans are Bad for Each Other, Even if We Occasionally Help One Another 261

13 Epilogue: Are We Going to Last the Distance? 278

Citations 281

Sources 293

Some Suggested Reading 317

Index 321

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