Books  Evolutionary Biology  Human Evolution & Anthropology 

The Cradle of Humanity: How the Changing Landscape of Africa Made Us So Smart

Coming Soon
Sets the story of human evolution in the context of the East Africa's changing landscape and climate
Offers a radical new theory of how rapid climate change affected hominin brain development
Draws on evidence from a variety of disciplines, including palaeoclimatology, palaeoceanography, palaeoanthropology, geology, archaeology, and evolution
Presents key new ideas from the rapidly developing and often controversial field of human evolution

By: Mark A Maslin (Author), Richard E Leakey (Foreword By)

256 pages, ~20 b/w illustrations

Oxford University Press

Hardback | Jan 2017 | #228596 | ISBN-13: 9780198704522
Available for pre-order: Due Jan 2017 Details
NHBS Price: £19.99 $24/€22 approx

About this book

Humans are rather weak when compared with many other animals. We are not particular fast and have no natural weapons. Yet Homo sapiens currently number nearly 7.5 billion and are set to rise to nearly 10 billion by the middle of this century. We have influenced almost every part of the Earth system and as a consequence are changing the global environmental and evolutionary trajectory of the Earth. So how did we become the worlds apex predator and take over the planet?

Fundamental to our success is our intelligence, not only individually but more importantly collectively. But why did evolution favour the brainy ape? Given the calorific cost of running our large brains, not to mention the difficulties posed for childbirth, this bizarre adaptation must have given our ancestors a considerable advantage. In The Cradle of Humanity Mark Maslin brings together the latest insights from hominin fossils and combines them with evidence of the changing landscape of the East African Rift Valley to show how all these factors led to selection pressures that favoured our ultrasocial brains. Astronomy, geology, climate, and landscape all had a part to play in making East Africa the cradle of humanity and allowing us to dominate the planet.


1: In the Beginning
2: Early Human Evolution
3: Tectonic and Climate
4: Cradle of Humanity
5: Global Climate Change
6: Celestial Mechanics
7: African Climate Pulses
8: The Social Brain
9: Future of Humanity
10: The story so far

Further Reading

Write a review

There are currently no reviews for this product. Be the first to review this product!


Mark Maslin (FRGS, FRSA) is a Professor of Climatology and Environmental Sciences at University College London, and is currently a Royal Society Industrial Fellow. He was the former Director of the UCL Environment Institute and Head of the Department of Geography, and in recent years has presented over 45 public talks, at the UK Space conference, Oxford, Cambridge, Tate Modern, Royal Society of Medicine, British Museum, Natural History Museum, Freshfields, Goldman Sachs and both the Norwegian and UK Government. He has been published in multiple journals, and is the author of Climate: A Very Short Introduction (2013), and Climate Change: A Very Short Introduction (2014), now in its third editon.

Bestsellers in this subject

The Missing Lemur Link

NHBS Price: £64.99 $80/€73 approx

Evolution: What the Fossils Say and Why it Matters

NHBS Price: £23.50 $29/€26 approx

The Society of Genes

NHBS Price: £20.95 $26/€24 approx

The Bonobo and the Atheist

NHBS Price: £9.99 $12/€11 approx

The Social Conquest of Earth

NHBS Price: £10.99 £11.99 (Save £1.00) $13/€12 approx