By Ian Tattersall

To be human is to be curious. And one of many issues we're so much enthusiastic about is how we got here to be who we are--how we advanced over hundreds of thousands of years to develop into creatures in a position to inquiring into our personal evolution.

during this vigorous and readable creation, popular anthropologist Ian Tattersall completely examines either fossil and archaeological files to track human evolution from the earliest beginnings of our zoological relatives, Hominidae, in the course of the visual appeal of Homo sapiens to the rural Revolution. He starts with an obtainable evaluate of evolutionary thought after which explores the most important turning issues in human evolution: the emergence of the genus Homo, the benefits of bipedalism, the beginning of the large mind and symbolic pondering, Paleolithic and Neolithic instrument making, and at last the greatly consequential shift from hunter-gatherer to agricultural societies 10,000 years in the past. Focusing relatively at the development of occasions and techniques in human organic and cultural evolution, Tattersall bargains illuminating statement on a variety of issues, together with the earliest identified creative expressions, historical burial rites, the beginnings of language, the most likely reasons of Neanderthal extinction, the connection among agriculture and Christianity, and the nonetheless unsolved mysteries of human consciousness.

Complemented by means of a wealth of illustrations and written with the grace and accessibility for which Tattersall is broadly in demand, The international from Beginnings to 4000 BCE invitations us to take a more in-depth examine the unusual and far away beings who, over the process hundreds of thousands of years, could develop into us.

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Additional info for The World from Beginnings to 4000 BCE (New Oxford World History)

Example text

All that geologists could do was to say that, in any given sedimentary basin, the deeper layers were older than those higher up. But such sedimentary sequences can be isolated and discontinuous; how can we correlate them? The traditional solution was to compare the fossils they contained. Early geologists quickly realized that different periods of the Earth’s history were characterized by different fossil plants and animals. Rocks in different places but containing the same types of plants and animals were likely to be of similar age, whereas rocks with radically different floras and faunas probably represented different times.

Other approaches to dating fossils directly include one known as electron spin resonance (ESR), for which tooth enamel is a favorite material (bone is not a good subject). Empty ‘‘traps’’ in the crystal structure of the enamel fill up with free electrons at a rate that varies with the background radiation level of the particular site where the fossil has rested. If that rate is known, then the number of electron traps that have been filled can be measured and used to calculate the time—up to 2 million years—since the traps were last empty, usually at the point when the organism died.

For example, a skull of Homo neanderthalensis that was found in an ancient hyena den at the Guattari Cave in Italy in 1939 was initially thought to have been severed from its body and deliberately placed in the center of a ring of stones and animal bones in some bizarre hominid ritual. Leopards, which tend to hoard their prey in particular trees, have apparently played a similarly significant role in the accumulation of hominid fossils, especially in earlier times in Africa. It is also important to bear in mind that the fossil record as we know it is a rather biased representation of life in past eras.

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