The Strange Case of the Rickety Cossack

The Strange Case of the Rickety Cossack

And Other Cautionary Tales From Human Evolution

Book - 2015
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In his new book human paleoanthropologist Ian Tattersall argues that a long tradition of "human exceptionalism" in paleoanthropology has distorted the picture of human evolution. Drawing partly on his own career-- from young scientist in awe of his elders to crotchety elder statesman-- Tattersall offers an idiosyncratic look at the competitive world of paleoanthropology, beginning with Charles Darwin 150 years ago, and continuing through the Leakey dynasty in Africa, and concluding with the latest astonishing findings in the Caucasus. With tact and humor, Tattersall concludes that we are not the perfected products of natural processes, but instead the result of substantial doses of random happenstance.
Publisher: New York, NY : Palgrave Macmillan, [2015]
Edition: First edition
Copyright Date: ©2015
ISBN: 9781137278890
1137278897
Characteristics: xii, 244 pages : illlustrations ; 25 cm

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tocch101
Nov 22, 2015

An interesting read, but somewhat dry and continued to be a little too in-depth. Informative and fun.

p
PearlyBaker
Jul 14, 2015

Thanks to Bruce Chatwin I've always had a passing interest in the origins of man. It was nice to get an updated version of what some paleoanthropologists agree on currently. Like the Brothers Karamazov this book started out a little slow. However unlike the Brothers K. it got better. I was interested to learn that when Potassium Argon dating was first used in 1950 the age of hominids went from an estimate of 600,000 years to 1.75 million years. Other interesting facts included that fire domestication was estimated at 1 million years ago and 2.5 million years ago stone tools marked a significant cognitive leap. Also around 1.8 million years ago the modern body form appeared and brain size began its remarkable increase. And the current form of homo sapiens appears to be about 190,000 years old. I was reminded of Roger Water's concept album where the aliens come to earth and piece together what happened to us, "We watched the tragedy unfold. We did as we were told we bought and sold. It was the greatest show on earth. But then it was over. We oohed and aahed We drove our racing cars. We ate our last few jars of caviar. And somewhere out there in the stars
A keen-eyed look-out Spied a flickering light Our last hurrah And when they found our shadows Grouped 'round the TV sets They ran down every lead They repeated every test They checked out all the data in their lists And then the alien anthropologists Admitted they were still perplexed But on eliminating every other reason For our sad demise They logged the only explanation left This species has amused itself to death."

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