Books  Evolutionary Biology  Human Evolution & Anthropology 

The Evolution of the Human Head

By: Daniel E Lieberman

756 pages, 55 halftones, 110 line illus

Belknap Press

Hardback | Dec 2010 | #187481 | ISBN-13: 9780674046368
Availability: Usually dispatched within 5 days Details
NHBS Price: £30.95 $38/€35 approx

About this book

In one sense, human heads function much like those of other mammals. We use them to chew, smell, swallow, think, hear, and so on. But, in other respects, the human head is quite unusual. Unlike other animals, even our great ape cousins, our heads are short and wide, very big brained, snoutless, largely furless, and perched on a short, nearly vertical neck. Daniel E. Lieberman sets out to explain how the human head works, and why our heads evolved in this peculiarly human way.

Exhaustively researched and years in the making, this innovative book documents how the many components of the head function, how they evolved since we diverged from the apes, and how they interact in diverse ways both functionally and developmentally, causing them to be highly integrated. This integration not only permits the head's many units to accommodate each other as they grow and work, but also facilitates evolutionary change. Lieberman shows how, when, and why the major transformations evident in the evolution of the human head occurred. The special way the head is integrated, Lieberman argues, made it possible for a few developmental shifts to have had widespread effects on craniofacial growth, yet still permit the head to function exquisitely.

Lieberman offers acute descriptions of anatomy, embryology, physiology, and hominid fossils, while providing an exciting way to observe the relationships among structures, functions, and evolutionary variance. -- Scott Vieira Library Journal 20110101 Lieberman dives deep into the cranium, showing just how much of what we consider to be human is connected to what happens above the neck. -- Carolyn Y. Johnson Boston Globe 20110130 Daniel Lieberman has written a wonderful and inspiring book about the human head's evolution...One stands in awe at the work that has gone into it...This encyclopedic book is transformative...The morphological details in Lieberman's book make it a direct descendant of Gray's Anatomy...If a single word describes this book, it is integrative. The author integrates material from anatomy, physiology, physics, biomechanics, molecular and developmental biology, but brings all under the umbrella of evolutionary theory. -- Chris McManus Times Higher Education 20110217 This [is an] impressive book...This hefty and well-written book offers a scholarly breadth and attention to detail that are certainly laudable. The book is quite unusual in that it includes a comprehensive review of the soft tissues associated with cranial features and discusses them within the context of evolutionary morphology and the fossil record of the human skull. I can think of no other volume that packages the anatomy of the human head in this fashion...Lieberman's big book definitely moves us ahead in effectively synthesizing so much of what is currently understood about the structure, function and evolution of the human head. -- Brian T. Shea American Scientist 20110301 By rooting his study in the basics of tissue mechanics and functional morphology, Lieberman does the spadework to which all such studies aspire but few achieve--and makes that task seem elegant and effortless. -- Henry Gee Nature 20110317

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Daniel E. Lieberman is Professor of Human Evolutionary Biology at Harvard.

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