The Wrong Ape for Early Human Origins examines ways in which the chimpanzee referential model has exerted a primary influence on evolutionary theory, dominating portraits of proto- and early human social life, and in the broader sense, of human nature itself. Evidence on which this model is based is revisited, along with new cross-disciplinary findings that point to alternative scenarios for hominin phylogeny, ecology and subsistence, primaeval kinship, cognition and language, and the respective roles played by aggression and cooperation as evolutionary drivers. Recent advances in phylogenetics, evolutionary biology, and new additions to the fossil record are rendering linear, monotypic models obsolete. Contemporary theories on species divergence and change over time are shifting attention from ancient genotypes to factors that influence gene expression, and from innate prescriptive behaviours to epigenesis and the capacity for behavioural plasticity. This broader platform has the potential to fundamentally revise current notions about the basic nature, phenotypic traits, and lifeways of ancestral humans. It informs a different profile of our progenitors – one that reflects greater ecological bandwidth, reliance on creative niche construction, and hominin agency in the structuring of ancient reproductive and social groups.
Introduction: In the Shadow of Pan
Chapter 1. The Ghosts of Primates Past
Chapter 2. The Hominin Twilight Zone
Chapter 3. Kith and Kin
Chapter 4. The Hominin Cognitive Niche
Chapter 5. Taming the Brute
M. Kay Martin is a research anthropologist and author of Social DNA: Rethinking Our Evolutionary Past.
"Fossils, genetics, behavior, diet, environment. In this work, Martin discusses every aspect of the origins of the human lineage. The Wrong Ape for Early Human Origins is about the most contentious topic in biological anthropology: the still 'missing link' between us and the rest of the animal world."
– Sergio Almécija, American Museum of Natural History