The Human Inheritance: Genes, Language, and Evolution

Hardcover | November 25, 1999

EditorBryan Sykes

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Very little excites human curiosity quite so much as contemplating human origins. More than any other branch of science, evolution - and human evolution in particular - is fraught with controversy. Working from what is essentially the same data, schools of opinion have come to diametricallyopposed conclusions. Are we adapted Neanderthals, or a new species altogether which wiped them out? Did the first Americans enter the continent 30,000 or 12,000 years ago? Did the Polynesians sail against wind and current to an unknown fate, or were they just blown across from South America whileout fishing? Why do we speak different languages? Is it because language traces our biological history, or are the two things completely unrelated? Evolution, because it deals with a past that can never conclusively be known, was once ideal material for perpetual debate. Enter genetics with acompletely new source of objective data. Surely these old questions would soon be settled one way or another. Or would they? Bryan Sykes brings together a world-class set of contributors to debate these questions. The result is eight lively essays, each of which offers a different opinion aboutwhat the links between genes, language, and the archaeological record can tell us about human evolution - and indeed, whether they can tell us anything conclusive at all. This stimulating and challenging book poses more questions than it offers answers, eschews jargon, and pursues controversy.Guaranteed to fascinate anyone who has ever wondered how the fossil record, the incredible diversity of human language, and our genetic inheritance might combine to give a glimpse of human origins.

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From the Publisher

Very little excites human curiosity quite so much as contemplating human origins. More than any other branch of science, evolution - and human evolution in particular - is fraught with controversy. Working from what is essentially the same data, schools of opinion have come to diametricallyopposed conclusions. Are we adapted Neandertha...

Dr. Bryan Sykes is based at the Institute of Molecular Medicine, University of Oxford, John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford OX3 9DS. Tel. 01865 222404 Fax 01865 222498 Email bsykes@molbiol. ox.ac.uk

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Format:HardcoverPublished:November 25, 1999Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0198502745

ISBN - 13:9780198502746

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Table of Contents

Introduction1. Colin Renfrew: Reflections on the archaeology of linguistic diversity2. Chris Stringer: The fossil record of the evolution of Homo sapiens3. Don Ringer: Language classification: scientific and unscientific methods4. Gabriel Dover: Human evolution: our turbulent genes and why we are not chimps5. Bryan Sykes: Using genes to map population structure and origins6. Svante Paabo: Ancient DNA7. Ryk Ward: Language and genes in the Americas8. Walter Bodmer: Human genetic diversity and disease susceptibility

Editorial Reviews

' This is a thought-provoking and extremely readable book in which the arguments are uniformly cogent and the exemplifications admirable' Human Genetics