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In this book the author, a Harvard evolutionary biologist presents an account of how the human body has evolved over millions of years, examining how an increasing disparity between the needs of Stone Age bodies and the realities of the modern world are fueling a paradox of greater longevity and chronic disease. It illuminates the major transformations that contributed key adaptations to the body: the rise of bipedalism; the shift to a non-fruit-based diet; the advent of hunting and gathering, leading to our superlative endurance athleticism; the development of a very large brain; and the incipience of cultural proficiencies. The author also elucidates how cultural evolution differs from biological evolution, and how our bodies were further transformed during the Agricultural and Industrial Revolutions. While these ongoing changes have brought about many benefits, they have also created conditions to which our bodies are not entirely adapted, the author argues, resulting in the growing incidence of obesity and new but avoidable diseases, such as type 2 diabetes. The author proposes that many of these chronic illnesses persist and in some cases are intensifying because of 'dysevolution,' a pernicious dynamic whereby only the symptoms rather than the causes of these maladies are treated. And finally, he advocates the use of evolutionary information to help nudge, push, and sometimes even compel us to create a more salubrious environment. -- From publisher's web site.
In this landmark book of popular science, Daniel E. Lieberman—chair of the department of human evolutionary biology at Harvard University and a leader in the field—gives us a lucid and engaging account of how the human body evolved over millions of years, even as it shows how the increasing disparity between the jumble of adaptations in our Stone Age bodies and advancements in the modern world is occasioning this paradox: greater longevity but increased chronic disease. The Story of the Human Body brilliantly illuminates as never before the major transformations that contributed key adaptations to the body: the rise of bipedalism; the shift to a non-fruit-based diet; the advent of hunting and gathering, leading to our superlative endurance athleticism; the development of a very large brain; and the incipience of cultural proficiencies. Lieberman also elucidates how cultural evolution differs from biological evolution, and how our bodies were further transformed during the Agricultural and Industrial Revolutions. While these ongoing changes have brought about many benefits, they have also created conditions to which our bodies are not entirely adapted, Lieberman argues, resulting in the growing incidence of obesity and new but avoidable diseases, such as type 2 diabetes. Lieberman proposes that many of these chronic illnesses persist and in some cases are intensifying because of “dysevolution,” a pernicious dynamic whereby only the symptoms rather than the causes of these maladies are treated. And finally—provocatively—he advocates the use of evolutionary information to help nudge, push, and sometimes even compel us to create a more salubrious environment. (With charts and line drawings throughout.)
Story of the Human Body explores how the way we use our bodies is all wrong. From an evolutionary perspective, if normal is defined as what most people have done for millions of years, then it's normal to walk and run 9 -15 kilometers a day to hunt and gather fresh food which is high in fibre, low in sugar, and barely processed. It's also normal to spend much of your time nursing, napping, making stone tools, and gossiping with a small band of people. Our 21st-century lifestyles, argues Dan Lieberman, are out of synch with our stone-age bodies. Never have we been so healthy and long-lived - but never, too, have we been so prone to a slew of problems that were, until recently, rare or unknown, from asthma, to diabetes, to - scariest of all - overpopulation. Story of the Human Body asks how our bodies got to be the way they are, and considers how that evolutionary history - both ancient and recent - can help us evaluate how we use our bodies. How is the present-day state of the human body related to the past? And what is the human body's future? Daniel Lieberman is the Chair of the Department of Human Evolutionary Biology at Harvard and a leader in the field. He has written nearly 100 articles, many appearing in the journals Nature and Science, and his cover story on barefoot running in Nature was picked up by major media the world over. His research and discoveries have been highlighted in newspapers and magazines, including The New York Times, The Boston Globe, Discover, and National Geographic.
Dan Lieberman has written an innovative, exhaustively researched and carefully argued book dealing with the evolution of the human head. In it he addresses three interrelated questions. First, why does the human head look the way it does? Second, why did these transformations occur? And third, how is something as complex and vital as the head so variable and evolvable? This book addresses these questions in three sections. The first set of chapters review how human and ape heads grow, both in terms of individual parts (organs and regions) and as an integrated whole. The second section reviews how the head performs its major functions: housing the brain, chewing, swallowing, breathing, vocalizing, thermoregulating, seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling, and balancing during locomotion. The final set of chapters review the fossil evidence for major transformations of the head during human evolution from the divergence of the human and ape lineages through the origins of Homo sapiens. These chapters use developmental and functional insights from the first two sections to speculate on the developmental and selective bases for these transformations.
Recent interest in new diseases, such as HIV/AIDS and Ebola, and the resurgence of older diseases like tuberculosis has fostered questions about the history of human infectious diseases. How did they evolve? Where did they originate? What natural factors have stalled the progression of diseases or made them possible? How does a microorganism become a pathogen? How have infectious diseases changed through time? What can we do to control their occurrence? Ethne Barnes offers answers to these questions, using information from history and medicine as well as from anthropology. She focuses on changes in the patterns of human behavior through cultural evolution and how they have affected the development of human diseases. Writing in a clear, lively style, Barnes offers general overviews of every variety of disease and their carriers, from insects and worms through rodent vectors to household pets and farm animals. She devotes whole chapters to major infectious diseases such as leprosy, syphilis, smallpox, and influenza. Other chapters concentrate on categories of diseases ("gut bugs," for example, including cholera, typhus, and salmonella). The final chapters cover diseases that have made headlines in recent years, among them mad cow disease, West Nile virus, and Lyme disease. In the tradition of Berton Roueché, Hans Zinsser, and Sherwin Nuland, Ethne Barnes answers questions you never knew you had about the germs that have threatened us throughout human history.
A fascinating chronicle of the evolution of humankind traces the genetic history of the organs of the human body, offering a revealing correlation between the distant past and present-day human anatomy and physiology, behavior, illness, and DNA. Reprint. 75,000 first printing.
The next time you get sick, consider this before picking up the aspirin: your body may be doing exactly what it's supposed to. In this ground-breaking book, two pioneers of the science of Darwinian medicine argue that illness as well as the factors that predispose us toward it are subject to the same laws of natural selection that otherwise make our bodies such miracles of design. Among the concerns they raise: When may a fever be beneficial? Why do pregnant women get morning sickness? How do certain viruses "manipulate" their hosts into infecting others? What evolutionary factors may be responsible for depression and panic disorder? Deftly summarizing research on disorders ranging from allergies to Alzheimer's, and form cancer to Huntington's chorea, Why We Get Sick, answers these questions and more. The result is a book that will revolutionize our attitudes toward illness and will intrigue and instruct lay person and medical practitioners alike. From the Trade Paperback edition.
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