* Tattersall is one of the leading authorities on human prehistory, a longtime curator at the American Museum of Natural History
* This is a unique opening volume to a world history series; most series do not go back to pre-history
This book narrates the story of human biological and cultural evolution, from the earliest beginnings of our zoological family Hominidae, through the emergence of Homo sapiens, to the Agricultural Revolution. It concludes with a brief overview of the subsequent diversification of cultural and technological traditions in all the areas our species inhabits.
A particular focus is on the pattern of events/innovations in human biological and cultural evolution, which have tended not to proceed in lockstep. Prior to the emergence of Homo sapiens innovations of this kind were generally sporadic, and rare; since that event their frequency has been steadily increasing. Tattersall draws on his own research to demonstrate that the history of humankind has not been one of a singleminded struggle from primitiveness to perfection, but has rather been one of trial and error, of evolutionary experimentation that as often ended in failure as in success. In the process he thoroughly examines both the fossil and the archaeological records that document our human prehistory.
All human beings have a thirst to know where they came from, whether as individuals or as a species. This book responds to this desire for knowledge, whether in the classroom where the subject has a place in history as well as in science curricula or in more informal contexts. There currently exist no high school texts or supplemental readings that treat this subject in an authoritative manner, written by a practicing scientist in the field. This volume will have the advantage of being written by one whose opinions are first hand, and conditioned by direct familiarity with the original evidence.
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Oxford University Press, Incorporated
February 21, 2008
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