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Survival of the Fattest: The Key to Human Brain Evolution

By: Stephen C Cunnane

343 pages, b&w illus

World Scientific Publishing

Hardback | Jun 2005 | #161744 | ISBN: 9812561919
Temporarily out of stock: order now to get this when available Details
NHBS Price: £48.99 $64/€55 approx

About this book

Evolution, in general, depends on a special combination of circumstances: part genetics, part time, and part environment. In the case of human brain evolution, the main environmental influence was adaptation to a 'shore-based' diet, which provided the world's richest source of nutrition, as well as a sedentary lifestyle that promoted fat deposition. Such a diet included shellfish, fish, marsh plants, frogs, bird's eggs, etc. Humans, and more importantly, hominid babies started to get fat, a crucial distinction that led to the development of larger brains and to the evolution of modern humans. A larger brain is expensive to maintain and this increasing demand for energy results in, succintly, survival of the fattest.

The nutritionist's perspective that brings energy, fatty acid metabolism, and nutrition to the fore makes this account a provocative and fast-paced one. Readers will be challenged and intrigued by this well thought-out volume.Joyce A Nettleton, DSc, RDScienceVoice Consulting, Denver, Colorado"Anyone interested in how humans evolved will find much of interest in this book ... the main thread of the argument seems so plausible that many readers will want to delve further by way of a number of the items listed in the bibliography."Henry H BauerProfessor Emeritus of Chemistry & Science StudiesDean Emeritus of Arts & SciencesVirginia Polytechnic Institute & State University"This book is full of interesting facts about our brains and about nutrition and brain and body biochemistry. Cunnane weaves a very complex and multi-faceted hypothesis systematically and relatively clearly ... I found the book thought-provoking. It shares data and ideas that are relatively novel and interesting ..."European Neurology


Human Evolution: An Overview; Uniqueness of the Human Brain; Fetal Fat -- The Other Unique Human Attribute; The Basics -- Operating a Big Brain; Insurance; How Did We Get Fat Babies?; Darwin -- Evolution as Opportunity; Survival Isn't Good Enough; The Shore-Based Scenario; Where's the Evidence?.

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