In this bold, illuminating new take on the love of animals that drove human evolution, Pat Shipman explores why humans take in and nurture other animals. This behaviour might seem maladaptive – after all, every mouthful given to another species is one that you cannot eat – but Shipman reveals that our propensity to domesticate and care for other animals is in fact among our species' greatest strengths. For the last 2.6 million years, Shipman explains, humans who co-existed with animals enjoyed definite adaptive and cultural advantages. To illustrate this, Shipman gives a tour of the milestones in human civilisation and describes how we reached each stage through our unique relationship with other animals. The Animal Connection reaffirms our love of animals as something both innate and distinctly human, revealing that the process of domestication not only changed animals but had a resounding impact on us as well.
Pat Shipman is a professor of anthropology at Penn State University. Co-author of the award-winning The Ape in the Tree, she writes for American Scientist.
"Pat Shipman gathers together the results of many archaeological studies, and she clearly shows how animals were intimately involved in the development of early humans. Both animal lovers and readers who are interested in human psychology will not be able to put this fascinating book down."
– Temple Grandin, author of Animals in Translation and Animals Make Us Human
"Pat Shipman has written one of the most important books on the human-animal connection ever. One might even say it is the single most important book, possibly the only one, to look at our deep connection to animals over the entire evolutionary history of our species. She says that animals are central to the very essence of being human and has proven this to be the case in a work of extraordinarily broad scholarship."
– Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson, author of The Dog Who Couldn't Stop Loving
"Eye-opening a compelling argument and an exciting story. The Animal Connection goes beyond the obvious of what every pet-lover knows. It shows how we evolved and hence how and why we are unique. This is an important book. It s a must-read."
– Bernd Heinrich, author of Winter World and Mind of the Raven
"I read The Animal Connection with great admiration; its data-rich narrative offers profound insights about our species' long history with other animals."
– Barbara J. King, author of Being with Animals
"Pat Shipman is a respected paleoanthropologist and a superb science writer with an extraordinary reach. Until I read this book, I had not appreciated the significant impact of animals for charting the course of human evolution or the universal importance that animals have today for improving the quality of human life."
– Dean Falk, author of Finding Our Tongues
"Shipman takes us on a journey through human evolution as it has never been told before. She demonstrates that humanity emerged not only through tool use and language, but because of our associations with animals. Shipman's triumph is her demonstration that the modern human condition was borne of our personal connections with animals – from horses as transportation, to cows and sheep as food, to dogs as vigilant companions. Our achievements on two legs were made possible by our many relatives on four."
– Nina G. Jablonski, author of Skin: A Natural History