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50 Great Myths of Human Evolution: Understanding Misconceptions about Our Origins

By: John H Relethford(Author)

Wiley-Blackwell

Paperback | Jan 2017 | #233451 | ISBN-13: 9780470673928
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NHBS Price: £20.50 $26/€23 approx
Hardback | Jan 2017 | #233450 | ISBN-13: 9780470673911
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About this book

50 Great Myths of Human Evolution uses common misconceptions to explore basic theory and research in human evolution and strengthen critical thinking skills for lay readers and students.

- Examines intriguing – yet widely misunderstood – topics, from general ideas about evolution and human origins to the evolution of modern humans and recent trends in the field
- Describes what fossils, archaeology, and genetics can tell us about human origins
- Demonstrates the ways in which science adapts and changes over time to incorporate new evidence and better explanations
- Includes myths such as “Humans lived at the same time as dinosaurs”; “Lucy was so small because she was a child”; “Our ancestors have always made fire”; and “There is a strong relationship between brain size and intelligence”
- Comprised of stand-alone essays that are perfect for casual reading, as well as footnotes and references that allow readers to delve more deeply into topics


Contents

Preface
Introduction: Myths and Misconceptions

Part 1: Ideas about Evolution
Myth 1: Evolution is a Theory, Not a Fact
Myth 2: Evolution is Completely Random
Myth 3: All Evolutionary Change Is Adaptive
Myth 4: In Evolution, Bigger is Always Better
Myth 5: Natural Selection Always Works
Myth 6: Some Species are More Evolved than are Others
Myth 7: Humans Lived at the Same Time as the Dinosaurs

Part 2: Human Origins
Myth 8: If Apes Evolved Into Humans, Then Apes Should Not Exist Today
Myth 9: “Ramapithecus” was a Human Ancestor
Myth 10: Humans and African Apes Split From Each Other Over 15 Million Years Ago
Myth 11: Gigantopithecus was the Ancestor of "Bigfoot" (Assuming Bigfoot Exists)
Myth 12: Human Traits All Evolved At the Same Time
Myth 13: Large Brains Evolved Very Early in Human Evolution
Myth 14: The Common Ancestor of African Apes and Humans Walked Like a Chimpanzee
Myth 15: Bipedalism First Evolved on the African Grasslands
Myth 16: Lucy was So Small Because She Was a Child
Myth 17: Australopithecus Was a Killer Ape
Myth 18: Human Evolution Can Be Described As a "Ladder"
Myth 19: All Hominin Species Have Probably Been Discovered
Myth 20: There Are No Transitional Fossils in Human Evolution

Part 3: Evolution of the Genus Homo
Myth 21: Only One Species of Homo Lived Two Million Years Ago
Myth 22: Early Homo Had Modern Human Brain Size
Myth 23: Only Humans Are Toolmakers and Have Culture
Myth 24: We Can Identify Species by the Stone Tools They Made
Myth 25: Homo habilis Definitely Made Shelter
Myth 26: Our Ancestors Have Always Made Fire
Myth 27: Early Humans Got All of Their Meat from Hunting
Myth 28: Species with Larger Brow Ridges Are More Apelike
Myth 29: Neandertals Walked Bent Over and Were Dumb Brutes
Myth 30: Neandertals Definitely Could Not Speak
Myth 31: Modern Humans Appeared First in Eurasia
Myth 32: “Mitochondrial Eve” is Our Only Common Female Ancestor
Myth 33: Neandertals Did Not Interbreed With Modern Humans
Myth 34: We Don't Need Fossils Any More To Learn About Human Evolution
Myth 35: All Recent Human Species Had Large Brains

Part 4: Recent and Future Human Evolution
Myth 36: Each of Us Has Billions of Distinct Ancestors
Myth 37: The First Americans Came From Europe or the Middle East
Myth 38: The First Polynesians Came From South America
Myth 39: The Origin of Agriculture Led To an Improvement In Health
Myth 40: Civilization Has Been Influenced By Extraterrestrials
Myth 41: The Recent Increase in Life Expectancy Was Due Initially To Antibiotics
Myth 42: There Are Three Distinct Shades of Human Skin Color
Myth 43: Biological Race is Useful for Understanding Human Variation
Myth 44: All African Americans Have the Same Genetic History
Myth 45: Genetic Ancestry Is the Same Thing As Cultural Identity
Myth 46: Sickle Cell Anemia Is a "Black Disease"
Myth 47: There Is a Strong Genetic Relationship between Brain Size and Intelligence Test Scores
Myth 48: Humans Are No Longer Evolving
Myth 49: Blond Hair Will Eventually Disappear
Myth 50: We Can Predict Future Human Evolution

Notes
References


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Biography

John H. Relethford is Distinguished Teaching Professor in the Department of Anthropology at the State University of New York College at Oneonta, USA, where he has taught since 1981. He is a biological anthropologist specializing in human population genetics, human variation, and the evolution of modern humans. He is a former President and Vice-President of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists, former Vice President and President of the American Association of Anthropological Genetics, and a Fellow and Former Chair of Section H (Anthropology) of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He has over 170 publications, including several books, over 80 peer-reviewed journal articles, and over 25 book chapters. Most recently, he is the author of The Human Species: An Introduction to Biological Anthropology, Human Population Genetics (Wiley-Blackwell, 2012), and co-author of Human Biological Variation (2nd edition, 2011).

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