480 pages, b/w illustrations
A landmark book of popular science, The Story of the Human Body is a lucid, engaging account of how the human body evolved over millions of years and of how the increasing disparity between the jumble of adaptations in our Stone Age bodies and the modern world in which we live is fueling the paradox of greater longevity but more chronic disease.
In a book that illuminates, as never before, the evolutionary story of the human body, Daniel Lieberman deftly examines the major transformations which contributed key adaptations to the body: the advent of bipedalism; the shift to a non-fruit based diet; the rise of hunting and gathering and our superlative endurance athletic abilities; the development of a very large brain; and the incipience of modern cultural abilities. He elucidates how cultural evolution differs from biological evolution, and has further transformed our bodies during the Agricultural and Industrial Revolutions. Lieberman illuminates how these ongoing changes have brought many benefits, but also have created novel conditions to which our bodies are not entirely adapted, resulting in a growing incidence of obesity and new but avoidable diseases, including type 2 diabetes. He 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 us nudge, push, and sometimes oblige us to create a more salubrious environment.
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Daniel E. Lieberman (Ph.D. 1993, Harvard University) is Professor of Anthropology, Harvard University; Richard J. Smith (Ph.D. 1980, Yale University) is Professor of Anthropology at Washington University, St Louis. Jay Kelley (Ph.D. 1986, Yale University) is Professor of Oral Biology, University of Illinois, Chicago.