Becoming Human: Evolution and Human Uniqueness
by Ian Tattersall
New York: Harcourt, 1998
One of the traits that distinguishes us from our nearest ancestors is our curiosity about the origins of our species. And there’s no better book to tackle this question than Becoming Human, because Ian Tattersall, the world-renowned expert on fossil humans and lemurs, paleontologist and interpreter of human evolution, takes a new tack. He’s looking for the discontinuities inhuman evolution, at what really makes us different from other species, at what is quintessentially and uniquely human.
Taking the reader around the world, stopping in France to examine 30,000-year-old cave paintings, in Africa to see where our earliest ancestors left their bones, and in remote forests to spy on our closest relatives, the great apes. Tattersall keeps his focus on the big questions. This book is thus not only about evolution but about the meaning of our existence on this planet and our relationship to the living world.
Tattersall breathes life into the human remains, searches the ancient sites for culture as well as fossils, and brings us cutting-edge research on other primates’ ‘language,’ tool making, and social cooperation. What makes us really different and what is the future of our species? Becoming Humananswers these questions in a way that no other book could.
Becoming Human is a rich and joyful tour de force by one of our most outstanding students of human evolution.
Ian Tattersall is Curator in the Department of Anthropology at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. An expert on fossil humans and lemurs and the author of numerous books, he has guided many archaeological tours all over the world. He is responsible for creating the popular new Hall of Human Biology and Evolution at the American Museum. When not on the move, he lives in Greenwich Village.