The Improbable Primate: How Water Shaped Human Evolution

The Improbable Primate: How Water Shaped Human Evolution

by Clive Finlayson
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The Improbable Primate: How Water Shaped Human Evolution by Clive Finlayson

Taking an ecological approach to our evolution, Clive Finlayson considers the origins of modern humans within the context of a drying climate and changing landscapes. Finlayson argues that environmental change, particularly availability of water, played a critical role in shaping the direction of human evolution, contributing to our spread and success. He argues that our ancestors carved a niche for themselves by leaving the forest and forcing their way into a long-established community of carnivores in a tropical savannah as climate changes opened up the landscape. They took their chance at high noon, when most other predators were asleep. Adapting to this new lifestyle by shedding their hair and developing an active sweating system to keep cool, being close to fresh water was vital. As the climate dried, our ancestors, already bipedal, became taller and slimmer, more adept at travelling farther in search of water. The challenges of seeking water in a drying landscape moulded the minds and bodies of early humans, and directed their migrations and eventual settlements.

In this fresh and provocative view of a seven-million-year evolutionary journey, Finlayson demonstrates the radical implications for the interpretation of fossils and technologies and shows that understanding humans within an ecological context provides insights into the emergence and spread of Homo sapiens sapiens worldwide.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780199658794
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Publication date: 05/27/2014
Pages: 232
Sales rank: 659,491
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.60(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

Clive Finlayson, Director of the Gibraltar Museum

Clive Finlayson is a noted expert on the Neanderthals and has been researching their final stand in Gibraltar. He is Director of the Gibraltar Museum and Adjunct Professor at the University of Toronto, having trained in Oxford as an evolutionary ecologist. His previous books include Neanderthals and Modern Humans: An Ecological and Evolutinary Perspective (CUP, 2004) and The Humans Who Went Extinct (OUP, 2009).

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The Improbable Primate: How Water Shaped Human Evolution 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Roland65 More than 1 year ago
Clive Finlayson outdoes the crowd! We read about fossils, about stone tools...heck, genetics is often toated...but have you read about ecology, and the changes climate has had on humans? Then you gotta read this guy...he's good!