Books  Ecological & Biological Sciences  Evolutionary Biology  Human Evolution & Anthropology 

Ancestors in Our Genome: The New Science of Human Evolution

Popular Science

By: Eugene E Harris(Author)

226 pages, 45 b/w illustrations

Oxford University Press

Hardback | Jan 2015 | #214581 | ISBN-13: 9780199978038
Availability: Usually dispatched within 5 days Details
NHBS Price: £18.99 $25/€22 approx

About this book

In 2001, scientists were finally able to determine the full human genome sequence, and with the discovery began a genomic voyage back in time. Since then, we have sequenced the full genomes of many of mankind's primitive relatives at a remarkable rate. The genome of the common chimpanzee (2005), macaque (2007) and orangutan (2011) have already been identified, and the identification of other primate genomes is underway, including the bonobo, gorilla, and baboon. Researchers are beginning to unravel our full genetic history, comparing it with closely related species to answer age old questions about how and when we evolved. For the first time, we are finding our own ancestors in our genome and are thereby gleaning new information about our evolutionary past.

In Ancestors in Our Genome, geneticist Eugene Harris presents us with the complete and up-to-date account of the evolution of the human genome. Written from the perspective of population genetics, the book traces human origins back to their earliest source among our earliest human ancestors, and explains some of the challenging questions that scientists are currently attempting to answer. For example, what does the high level of discordance among the gene trees of humans and the African great apes tell us about our respective separations from our common ancestor? Was this process fast or slow, and when and why did it occur? How can we explain the fact that evolutionary relationships among copies of specific genes from individual primate species can differ from the evolutionary relationships of the species themselves? Harris draws upon extensive experience researching primate evolution in order to deliver a lively and thorough history of human evolution. Ancestors in Our Genome is the most complete discussion of our current understanding of the human genome available.

Watch a trailer below:


"[Harris] has written an excellent analysis of modern human evolution from a molecular evolution perspective. [...] This is the best book I've ever read on the subject of random genetic drift."
– Larry Moran, Professor Emeritus, Department of Biochemistry at the University of Toronto

"[...] a good overview of the state of the science regarding the genomics of human evolution."
– Bob Grant, Editor in Chief, The Scientist

"[...] readers looking for an up-to-date, clearly written, and well-illustrated tour through the dynamics of human evolution will find no better guide than this compelling volume."
BioScience, Kenneth R. Miller

"[O]n the whole this is a substantive, engaging, and worthwhile introduction to molecular anthropology for educated nonexperts."
– Richard A. Richards, Quarterly Review of Biology

"In the 'Age of Genomics,' this book is an absolute must-have for anyone interested in human evolution. In the most accessible manner, Eugene E. Harris enlightens how and why genomes represent such powerful evidence to understand our past. If you want to know why paleontologists and geneticists fight over evolutionary trees, whether chimpanzees and primitive hominins interbred after they split, how large the first human population was, or how in modern humans bad genes could become good genes, open Ancestors in Our Genome"
– Jean-Jacques Hublin, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology

"It is a daunting and confusing task to make sense of the avalanche of genetic information that has recently become available. Fortunately, Harris's book is a concise and engaging explanation of what we have learned about human evolution from studying genomes. Harris clearly explains without jargon the basics of genetics and genomics, how and when humans evolved, and what about our genes make us different from our closest living and extinct relatives"
– Daniel Lieberman, Harvard University and author of The Story of the Human Body: Evolution, Health, and Disease

"In a lucid and engaging style, Eugene Harris delivers a clear account of the latest insights in genomic studies that are giving humans a more comprehensive understanding of our evolutionary history, our place in nature, and where we may be headed"
– Donald Johanson, Arizona State University

"Ancestors in Our Genome tells the amazing story of human evolution as it has been revealed by the study of our DNA. Eugene Harris, a rare anthropologist who has studied the differences in the DNA of humans and other primates, has written a superb book about the latest discoveries comparing the DNA genomes of apes and humans-both living and fossilized [...] An enjoyable and wonderfully enlightening read"
– Jody Hey, Temple University and author of Genes, Categories, and Species

"Simply indispensable for any reader wishing to learn about the latest research on human origins"
Library Journal

"He [Harris] presents a sophisticated introduction to population genetics, explaining how gene data can be used to verify or dismiss competing hypotheses for how and when early humans moved out of Africa; the size and timing of the ancestral population that gave rise to both humans, and perhaps human ancestors, developed the ability to speak."
Publisher's Weekly

"This book reports how modern humans came to be by combining fossil and artifactual evidence with genetics to tell the story from when the human-chimpanzee split occurred. The subject is interesting, but the author’s repetitiveness and some sloppy use of terms detracts from the intended message."
– GrrlScientist, The Guardian blog, 28-11-2014


Chapter 1. The Trees Within the Forest: The Molecular Quest for Our Nearest Primate Relative
Chapter 2. Looks Can Be Deceiving: Evolution Does a Double-Take
Chapter 3. The Great Divorce: The Human Lineage Emerges
Chapter 4. A Population Crash: The Down and Upsides to It
Chapter 5. What Makes Us Human?: Searching the Genome for our Species-Wide Adaptations
Chapter 6. The Ongoing Evolutionary Journey: Human Adaptations Around the World
Chapter 7: Kissing Cousins: Clues from Ancient Genomes
Chapter 8. The Future of the Genome

Write a review

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


Eugene Harris is a Research Affiliate of the Center for the Study of Human Origins in the Department of Anthropology at New York University. He is one of the leading experts in the genomic study of primate evolution. His early research, using modern DNA analyses to firmly establish an evolutionary tree of the African monkey group that includes baboons, mandrills and related monkeys, was influential in human evolution studies showing that anatomical features are unreliable for ascertaining the evolutionary relationships among early human fossils.

Bestsellers in this subject

Early Humans

NHBS Special Offer Price: £29.99 £34.99 (Save £5.00) $39/€34 approx (ends 31/12/2018)

Who We Are and How We Got Here

NHBS Price: £10.99 $14/€12 approx

Our Human Story

NHBS Price: £14.99 $20/€17 approx

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind

NHBS Price: £9.99 $13/€11 approx

Grand Canyon, a Century of Change

NHBS Price: £30.50 $40/€35 approx

VAT: GB 407 4846 44
NHBS Ltd is registered in England and Wales: 1875194