Thumbs, Toes, and Tears: And Other Traits That Make Us Human

Thumbs, Toes, and Tears: And Other Traits That Make Us Human

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Overview

Thumbs, Toes, and Tears: And Other Traits That Make Us Human by Chip Walter

"A fluid introduction to the development of the human species."—Booklist

Among the countless traits and behaviors that separate us from the rest of the animal kingdom, six stand out—our big toe, opposable thumb, oddly shaped pharynx, and our abilities to laugh, kiss, and cry. Though seemingly unconnected, they are actually closely linked, each marking a fork in the evolutionary road where we went one way and the rest of the animal kingdom went another. Drawing on complexity theory, the latest brain scanning techniques, and new insights from fields as diverse as anthropology and artificial intelligence, science writer Chip Walter explains why our brains grew so large and complex, why we find one another sexually attractive, how tool making laid the mental groundwork for language, why we care about what others think, and how we became the creature that laughs and cries and falls in love. Original, informative, and thought-provoking, Thumbs, Toes, and Tears will increase your sense of wonder and appreciation for how unique Homo sapiens truly is.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780802716255
Publisher: Walker & Company
Publication date: 02/05/2008
Edition description: First Edition
Pages: 272
Product dimensions: 5.91(w) x 7.87(h) x 0.76(d)

About the Author

Chip Walter is a science writer, documentary filmmaker, and former CNN bureau chief who has written for Scientific American, Discover, the Economist, and many other publications. Walter lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Table of Contents

Foreword   Ray Kurzweil     v
Prologue     xi
Toes
The Curious Tale of the Hallux Magnus     3
Standing Up: Sex and the Single Hominid     27
Thumbs
Mothers of Invention     45
Homo hallucinator-the Dream Animal     63
Pharynx
Making Thoughts Out of Thin Air     85
I Am Me: The Rise of Consciousness     103
Words, Grooming, and the Opposite Sex     119
Laughter
Howls, Hoots, and Calls     143
Tears
The Creature That Weeps     165
Kissing
The Language of Lips     183
Epilogue Cyber sapiens: The Human Race, Version 2.0     207
Acknowledgments     215
Bibliography     217
Notes     223
Index     245

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