The Accidental Species

The Accidental Species
Author :
Publisher : University of Chicago Press
Total Pages : 218
Release :
ISBN-10 : 9780226044989
ISBN-13 : 022604498X
Rating : 4/5 (98X Downloads)

Book Synopsis The Accidental Species by : Henry Gee

Download or read book The Accidental Species written by Henry Gee and published by University of Chicago Press. This book was released on 2013-10-15 with total page 218 pages. Available in PDF, EPUB and Kindle. Book excerpt: “With a delightfully irascible sense of humor, Henry Gee reflects on our origin . . . an excellent primer on how—and how not—to think about human evolution.” —Carl Zimmer, author of Parasite Rex The idea of a missing link between humanity and our animal ancestors predates evolution and popular science and actually has religious roots in the deist concept of the Great Chain of Being. Yet, the metaphor has lodged itself in the contemporary imagination, and new fossil discoveries are often hailed in headlines as revealing the elusive transitional step, the moment when we stopped being “animal” and started being “human.” In The Accidental Species, Henry Gee, longtime paleontology editor at Nature, takes aim at this misleading notion, arguing that it reflects a profound misunderstanding of how evolution works and, when applied to the evolution of our own species, supports mistaken ideas about our own place in the universe. Gee presents a robust and stark challenge to our tendency to see ourselves as the acme of creation. Far from being a quirk of religious fundamentalism, human exceptionalism, Gee argues, is an error that also infects scientific thought. Touring the many features of human beings that have recurrently been used to distinguish us from the rest of the animal world, Gee shows that our evolutionary outcome is one possibility among many, one that owes more to chance than to an organized progression to supremacy. He starts with bipedality, which he shows could have arisen entirely by accident, as a by-product of sexual selection, then moves on to technology, large brain size, intelligence, language, and, finally, sentience. He reveals each of these attributes to be alive and well throughout the animal world—they are not, indeed, unique to our species. The Accidental Species combines Gee’s expertise and experience with healthy skepticism and humor to create a book that aims to overturn popular thinking on human evolution. The key is not what’s missing—but how we’re linked.


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