150,000 years ago, a human being, identical to us in all important respects, walked the soil of Africa. Every modern human being is descended from this one woman. How did she come to be mother to all of us - a real-life Eve? What happened to the descendants of other "Eves"? And why do we come in such a huge variety of sizes, shapes, types and ...
150,000 years ago, a human being, identical to us in all important respects, walked the soil of Africa. Every modern human being is descended from this one woman. How did she come to be mother to all of us - a real-life Eve? What happened to the descendants of other "Eves"? And why do we come in such a huge variety of sizes, shapes, types and races if we have just one prehistoric ancestor? In this book Spencer Wells shows how the truth about our ancestors is hidden in our genetic code, and reveals how developments in the cutting-edge science of population genetics has made it possible not just to discover where our ancestors lived (and who they fought, loved, learned from and influenced) but to create a family tree for the whole of humanity. Informed by this new science, "The Journey of Man" is packed with astonishing information: that there was a real Adam and Eve -but that Eve came first by some 90,000 years; that the San Bushmen of the Kalahari have some of the oldest genetic markers now found; how the male Y-chromosome has been used to accurately trace the spread of humanity from Africa to Eurasia; how mountain ranges literally split populations in half, resulting in different racial types; that Neanderthals have been shown once and for all not to be our ancestors but an evolutionary dead-end; and that the entire genetic diversity of Native Americans can be accounted for by just ten individuals. It is an enthralling, epic tour through the history and development of early humankind - relying not on archaeological or historical speculation but on analysis of human genetics to provide definitive answers to questions we have asked for centuries. Questions which, in an age obsessed by our biological inheritance, are more compelling than ever.
This books should be read more widely. The information is fascinating, really rendering a lot of anthropology, no matter how well done, obsolete because information from DNA, mitochondrial DNA and the Y chromosome of males is so powerful. Anyone who reads this should regard genealogy as a rather lame pursuit, because it covers a few generations and doesn't tell us much.
To be sure, some of the information in this book may go out of date (Neanderthals are now known to have interbred with H. sapiens), but it will mostly last.
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