The epic story of human evolution, from our primate beginnings more than five million years ago to the agricultural era Over the course of five million years, our primate ancestors evolved from a modest population of sub-Saharan apes into the globally dominant species Homo sapiens. Along the way, humans became incredibly diverse in appearance, language, and culture. How did all of this happen? In The Five-Million-Year Odyssey, Peter Bellwood synthesizes research from archaeology, biology, anthropology, and linguistics to immerse us in the saga of human evolution, from the earliest traces of our hominin forebears in Africa, through waves of human expansion across the continents, and to the rise of agriculture and explosive demographic growth around the world. Bellwood presents our modern diversity as a product of both evolution, which led to the emergence of the genus Homo approximately 2.5 million years ago, and migration, which carried humans into new environments. He introduces us to the ancient hominins--including the australopithecines, Homo erectus, the Neanderthals, and others--before turning to the appearance of Homo sapiens circa 300,000 years ago and subsequent human movement into Eurasia, Australia, and the Americas. Bellwood then explores the invention of agriculture, which enabled farmers to disperse to new territories over the last 10,000 years, facilitating the spread of language families and cultural practices. The outcome is now apparent in our vast array of contemporary ethnicities, linguistic systems, and customs. The fascinating origin story of our varied human existence, The Five-Million-Year Odyssey underscores the importance of recognizing our shared genetic heritage to appreciate what makes us so diverse.
In this "artful, informative, and delightful" (William H. McNeill, New York Review of Books) book, Jared Diamond convincingly argues that geographical and environmental factors shaped the modern world. Societies that had had a head start in food production advanced beyond the hunter-gatherer stage, and then developed religion --as well as nasty germs and potent weapons of war --and adventured on sea and land to conquer and decimate preliterate cultures. A major advance in our understanding of human societies, Guns, Germs, and Steel chronicles the way that the modern world came to be and stunningly dismantles racially based theories of human history.
Published amid a firestorm of controversy in 1859, this is a book that changed the world. Reasoned and well-documented in its arguments, it offers coherent views of natural selection, adaptation, the struggle for existence, survival of the fittest, and other concepts that form the foundation of evolutionary theory.
This is a graphic tour through the unusual stories behind the creation of some of the overlooked items that surround us in our daily lives. This is both a book of histories and a book about histories. It explores how whims beget realities, lies become legends, trade routes spring up, and empires rise and fall--all from the perspective of your toothbrush or toilet. For readers of A Cartoon History of the Universe and Randall Munroe's What If?