The Improbable Primate: How Water Shaped Human Evolution

Paperback | January 20, 2016

byClive Finlayson

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Taking an ecological approach to our evolution, Clive Finlayson considers the origins of modern humans within the context of a drying climate and changing landscapes. Finlayson argues that environmental change, particularly availability of water, played a critical role in shaping the directionof human evolution, contributing to our spread and success. He argues that our ancestors carved a niche for themselves by leaving the forest and forcing their way into a long-established community of carnivores in a tropical savannah as climate changes opened up the landscape. They took their chanceat high noon, when most other predators were asleep. Adapting to this new lifestyle by shedding their hair and developing an active sweating system to keep cool, being close to fresh water was vital. As the climate dried, our ancestors, already bipedal, became taller and slimmer, more adept attravelling farther in search of water. The challenges of seeking water in a drying landscape moulded the minds and bodies of early humans, and directed their migrations and eventual settlements. In this fresh and provocative view of a seven-million-year evolutionary journey, Finlayson demonstrates the radical implications for the interpretation of fossils and technologies and shows that understanding humans within an ecological context provides insights into the emergence and spread of Homosapiens sapiens worldwide.

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Taking an ecological approach to our evolution, Clive Finlayson considers the origins of modern humans within the context of a drying climate and changing landscapes. Finlayson argues that environmental change, particularly availability of water, played a critical role in shaping the directionof human evolution, contributing to our spr...

Clive Finlayson is a noted expert on the Neanderthals and has been researching their final stand in Gibraltar. He is Director of the Gibraltar Museum and Adjunct Professor at the University of Toronto, having trained in Oxford as an evolutionary ecologist. His previous books include Neanderthals and Modern Humans: An Ecological and Ev...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:240 pages, 7.72 × 5.08 × 0.68 inPublished:January 20, 2016Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0198743890

ISBN - 13:9780198743897

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Table of Contents

Preface1. The Inverted Panda2. And the World Changed Forever3. At the Lake's Edge4. The first humans5. Middle Earth: The home of the first humans6. The Drying World of the Middle Pleistocene7. The Rain Chasers - Solutions in a Drying World8. The Exceptional World of the Neanderthal9. Global Expansion of the Rain Chasers10. Nature's Driving Force11. Australia12. From Lake Chad to Puritjarra and beyond13. The Improbable Primate Revisited