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Michael

Los Angeles, CA, United States | Member Since 2009

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  • Human Evolution: Scientific American Special Edition

    • HIGHLIGHTS (3 hrs and 9 mins)
    • By Scientific American
    • Narrated By uncredited
    Overall
    (72)
    Performance
    (12)
    Story
    (12)

    Reading the cracked brown fragments of fossils and sequences of DNA, scientists have found clues that the story of human origins has more convolutions than previously thought. The account of our shared human heritage now includes more controversial plot twists and mysteries. Was the remarkable seven-million-year-old skull found in July 2002 in Chad really one of our first forebears, or a distant dead-end cousin with precociously evolved features?

    Mike says: "Excellent, informative, concise"
    "Excellent, informative, concise"
    Overall

    This was exactly what I was looking for. It is one of the most concise, informative, and information packed books on human evolution that you will find on Audible. It's like reading a condensed version of four or five books on human evolutionary development in one, as it not only covers various aspects of human evolution (bipedalism, competition with other hominids, tool use, diet, brain size, DNA research, etc.), but also balances the consensus opinions with competing theories/interpretations of data (e.g. an African origin of h. sapiens vs. multiple groups of hominids across Asia and Africa that evolved separately but intermixed).

    I prefer this balanced approach over books that have a specific thesis or unifying theme(s), as they do not provide as much if any balance to the author's point of view, leaving you wondering about the objectivity of the narrative. This book doesn't have a marketing gimmick to skew its presentation of the facts.

    The level of detail in this book is sometimes comparable to a college lecture. For example, this book frequently cites dates and does not shy away from referencing lesser known homo species by name, e.g. "H. antecessor" and "H. ergaster" along with the more familiar "H. erectus" and "H. sapiens", etc. Also, in several instances the book will explain the logic or methodology behind certain assumptions or findings, e.g. how and why mitochondrial DNA can be used to trace maternal lineage back in time to an "Eve", and date her existence. It then usually provides a few examples, mention a few counter-points for balance, and then moves on.

    Unlike a college lecture, the presentation is so well organized and so well paced that it keeps your interest. It never gets bogged down on extraneous details or issues, never sounds like it's wasting space trying to justify a theme, etc. Here are some facts, mechanics, conclusions, examples, counterpoints... next topic.

    The reader is quick, so it's almost like 4 hours of info.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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