Accidental Species Misunderstandings of Human Evolution

ISBN-10: 0226284883
ISBN-13: 9780226284880
Edition: 2013
Authors: Henry Gee
List price: $26.00 Buy it from $3.00
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Description: 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  More...

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Book details

List price: $26.00
Copyright year: 2013
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
Publication date: 10/15/2013
Binding: Hardcover
Pages: 224
Size: 6.50" wide x 9.50" long x 0.75" tall
Weight: 1.210
Language: English

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, 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 firsthand experience on the editorial side of many incredible paleontological findings 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.

Preface: No More Missing Links
An Unexpected Party
All About Evolution
Losing it
The Beowulf Effect
Shadows of the Past
The Human Error
The Way We Walk
The Dog and the Atlatl
A Cleverness of Crows
The Things We Say
The Way We Think
Afterword: The Tangled Bank
Notes
Index

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