384 pages, plates with colour illustrations
Alice Roberts has been travelling the world – from Ethiopian desert to Malay peninsula and from Russian steppes to Amazon basin – in order to understand the challenges that early humans faced as they tried to settle continents. On her travels she has witnessed some of the daunting and brutal challenges our ancestors had to face: mountains, deserts, oceans, changing climates, terrifying giant beasts and volcanoes. But she discovers that perhaps the most serious threat of all came from other humans. When our ancestors set out from Africa there were already two other species of human on the planet: Neanderthal in Europe and Homo erectus in Asia. Both (contrary to popular perception) were intelligent, adept at making tools and weapons and were long adapted to their environments. So, Alice asks, why did only Homo sapiens survive?
Part detective story, part travelogue, and drawing on the latest genetic and archaeological discoveries, Alice examines how our ancestors evolved physically in response to these challenges, finding out how our colour, shape, size, diet, disease resistance and even athletic ability have been shaped by the range of environments that our ancestors had to survive. She also relates how astonishingly closely related we all are.
As a lecturer in Anatomy at Bristol University, Alice Roberts is eminently qualified to write The Incredible Human Journey. As a talented artist, she is perfectly qualified to illustrate it, and dotted throughout this lively book are many of the sketches and photographs from her travels.
"Using genetics, archaeology, fossils and climate evidence to construct a portrait of who we are and where we come from, the series promises to be both scientifically meaty and readily digestible."
"Dr Roberts is sunny, clear spoken and breathily enthusiastic [...] a star"
– Daily Telegraph
"Alice Roberts skilfully tells the story of her Odyssey filming The Incredible Human Journey in her own words. She has certainly grasped the subject fully and has a strong sympathy with her informants and their contributions. Her superb drawings are a delight. Do buy it'"
– Stephen Openheimer, Oxford University
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Alice Roberts is a qualified medical doctor and lecturers in Anatomy at Bristol University. She is a regular contributor to Channel 4's Time Team and BBC2's Coast series, and the presenter of Don't Die Young on BBC2.