Author: Eugene E. Harris
Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
Release Date: 2015
In 2001, scientists were finally able to determine the full human genome sequence, and with the discovery began a genomic voyage back in time. Since then, we have sequenced the full genomes of a number of mankind's primate relatives at a remarkable rate. The genomes of the common chimpanzee (2005) and bonobo (2012), orangutan (2011), gorilla (2012), and macaque monkey (2007) have already been identified, and the determination of other primate genomes is well underway. Researchers are beginning to unravel our full genomic history, comparing it with closely related species to answer age-old questions about how and when we evolved. For the first time, we are finding our own ancestors in our genome and are thereby gleaning new information about our evolutionary past. In Ancestors in Our Genome, molecular anthropologist Eugene E. Harris presents us with a complete and up-to-date account of the evolution of the human genome and our species. Written from the perspective of population genetics, and in simple terms, the book traces human origins back to their source among our earliest human ancestors, and explains many of the most intriguing questions that genome scientists are currently working to answer. For example, what does the high level of discordance among the gene trees of humans and the African great apes tell us about our respective separations from our common ancestor? Was our separation from the apes fast or slow, and when and why did it occur? Where, when, and how did our modern species evolve? How do we search across genomes to find the genomic underpinnings of our large and complex brains and language abilities? How can we find the genomic bases for life at high altitudes, for lactose tolerance, resistance to disease, and for our different skin pigmentations? How and when did we interbreed with Neandertals and the recently discovered ancient Denisovans of Asia? Harris draws upon extensive experience researching primate evolution in order to deliver a lively and thorough history of human evolution. Ancestors in Our Genome is the most complete discussion of our current understanding of the human genome available.
Author: Svante Pääbo
Publisher: S. Fischer Verlag
Release Date: 2014-03-06
Genre: Social Science
Die aufregende Geschichte der Entschlüsselung des Neandertalergenoms – und das lebendige Porträt der neuen Wissenschaft der Paläogenetik In einer folgenreichen Nacht im Jahre 1996 gelang Svante Pääbo die Entschlüsselung der ersten DNA-Sequenzen eines Neandertalers. Eine Sensation! Die verblüffenden Erkenntnisse revolutionierten unser Bild von der Entwicklung des Homo sapiens. Jetzt erzählt der preisgekrönte Wissenschaftler seine persönliche Geschichte und verschränkt sie mit der Geschichte des neuen Gebiets, das er maßgeblich mitentwickelte: der Paläogenetik - von den ersten Analysen an altägyptischen Mumien bis hin zu Mammuts, Höhlenbären und Riesenfaultieren. Ein faszinierender Blick hinter die Kulissen der Spitzenforschung in Deutschland und der spannende Entwicklungsroman einer Wissenschaft, deren Ergebnisse vor wenigen Jahrzehnten noch niemand erahnen konnte
Author: John Parrington
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Release Date: 2017-08-24
Genre: Human genome
Over a decade ago, as the Human Genome Project completed its mapping of the entire human genome, hopes ran high that we would rapidly be able to use our knowledge of human genes to tackle many inherited diseases, and understand what makes us unique among animals. But things didn't turn out that way. For a start, we turned out to have far fewer genes than originally thought -- just over 20,000, the same sort of number as a fruit fly or worm. What's more, the proportion of DNA consisting of genes coding for proteins was a mere 2%. So, was the rest of the genome accumulated 'junk'? Things have changed since those early heady days of the Human Genome Project. But the emerging picture is if anything far more exciting. In this book, John Parrington explains the key features that are coming to light - some, such as the results of the international ENCODE programme, still much debated and controversial in their scope. He gives an outline of the deeper genome, involving layers of regulatory elements controlling and coordinating the switching on and off of genes; the impact of its 3D geometry; the discovery of a variety of new RNAs playing critical roles; the epigenetic changes influenced by the environment and life experiences that can make identical twins different and be passed on to the next generation; and the clues coming out of comparisons with the genomes of Neanderthals as well as that of chimps about the development of our species. We are learning more about ourselves, and about the genetic aspects of many diseases. But in its complexity, flexibility, and ability to respond to environmental cues, the human genome is proving to be far more subtle than we ever imagined.
Author: John Parrington
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Release Date: 2016-08-25
Since the birth of civilisation, human beings have manipulated other life-forms. We have selectively bred plants and animals for thousands of years to maximize agricultural production and cater to our tastes in pets. The observation of the creation of artificial animal and plant variants was a key stimulant for Charles Darwin's theory of evolution. The ability to directly engineer the genomes of organisms first became possible in the 1970s, when the gene for human insulin was introduced into bacteria to produce this protein for diabetics. At the same time, mice were modified to produce human growth hormone, and grew huge as a result. But these were only our first tottering steps into the possibilities of genetic engineering. In the past few years, the pace of progress has accelerated enormously. We can now cut and paste genes using molecular scissors with astonishing ease, and the new technology of genome editing can be applied to practically any species of plants or animals. 'Mutation chain reaction' can be used to alter the genes of a population of pests, such as flies; as the modified creatures breed, the mutation is spread through the population, so that within a few generations the organism is almost completely altered. At the same time, scientists are also beginning to synthesize new organisms from scratch. These new technologies hold much promise for improving lives. Genome editing has already been used clinically to treat AIDS patients, by genetically modifying their white blood cells to be resistant to HIV. In agriculture, genome editing could be used to engineer species with increased food output, and the ability to thrive in challenging climates. New bacterial forms may be used to generate energy. But these powerful new techniques also raise important ethical dilemmas and potential dangers, pressing issues that are already upon us given the speed of scientific developments. To what extent should parents be able to manipulate the genetics of their offspring - and would designer babies be limited to the rich? Can we effectively weigh up the risks from introducing synthetic lifeforms into complex ecosystems? John Parrington explains the nature and possibilities of these new scientific developments, which could usher in a brave, new world. We must rapidly come to understand its implications if we are to direct its huge potential to the good of humanity and the planet.
Nicholas Wade’s articles are a major reason why the science section has become the most popular, nationwide, in the New York Times. In his groundbreaking Before the Dawn, Wade reveals humanity’s origins as never before—a journey made possible only recently by genetic science, whose incredible findings have answered such questions as: What was the first human language like? How large were the first societies, and how warlike were they? When did our ancestors first leave Africa, and by what route did they leave? By eloquently solving these and numerous other mysteries, Wade offers nothing less than a uniquely complete retelling of a story that began 500 centuries ago.
Author: Bernard Wood
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Release Date: 2005-11-03
This introduction traces the history of paleoanthropology from its beginnings in the 18th century to the latest fossil finds. It concentrates on the fossil evidence for human evolution, making reference to the relevant archaeological evidence when appropriate.
Wußten Sie, dass jeder von uns Karl den Großen zu seinen Vorfahren zählen kann? Dass Neandertaler mitnichten eine eigene Spezies sind, genetisch so etwas wie Rasse gar nicht existiert und die Rothaarigen allen Unkenrufen zum Trotz nicht aussterben werden? Wo kommen wir her? Was ist der Mensch? Seit das Genom, der komplette Erbgut-Satz eines Menschen, hunderttausendfach entschlüsselt («sequenziert») worden ist, erobert die Genforschung immer weitere Felder. Das Neueste: Weil unserem Genom auch die Evolution unserer Spezies eingeschrieben ist, schreiben Genforscher jetzt an der Seite von Archäologen und Historikern auch Menschheitsgeschichte.Sie haben dabei überraschende Erkewnntnisse gewonnen. Und manches Wissen von gestern erweist sich als Mythos, zumal inzwischen auch das Genmaterial sehr alter Knochenfunde «zum Sprechen» gebracht werden kann. Ein Science-Schmöker für jedermann, der sich für dieses neue Wissensfeld interessiert, zugleich gibt der Autor eine beiläufige Einführung für jedermann in die Vererbungslehre. 150 Jahre nach Darwin gibt Rutherford einen ausgezeichneten Überblick darüber, was wir inzwischen wissen können und auch darüber, was wir eben nicht wissen. «Eine brilliante, maßgebliche, überraschende, fesselnde Einführung in die Humangenetik. Wenn Sie wenig über die Geschichte des Menschen wissen, werden Sie verzaubert sein. Wenn Sie viel über die Geschichte des Menschen wissen, werden Sie verzaubert sein. So gut ist das.» Brian Cox «Meisterhaft, lehrreich und entzückend.» Peter Frankopan «Inspirierend und unterhaltsam.» Richard Dawkins
Author: John H. Langdon
Release Date: 2016-10-25
This textbook provides a collection of case studies in paleoanthropology demonstrating the method and limitations of science. These cases introduce the reader to various problems and illustrate how they have been addressed historically. The various topics selected represent important corrections in the field, some critical breakthroughs, models of good reasoning and experimental design, and important ideas emerging from normal science.
A preeminent geneticist hunts the Neanderthal and Denisovan genomes to answer the biggest question of them all: how did our ancestors become human? Neanderthal Man tells the riveting personal and scientific story of the quest to use ancient DNA to unlock the secrets of human evolution. Beginning with the study of DNA in Egyptian mummies in the early 1980s and culminating in the sequencing of the Neanderthal genome in 2010, Neanderthal Man describes the events, intrigues, failures, and triumphs of these scientifically rich years through the lens of the pioneer and inventor of the field of ancient DNA. We learn that Neanderthal genes offer a unique window into the lives of our ancient relatives and may hold the key to unlocking the mysteries of where language came from as well as why humans survived while Neanderthals went extinct. Pääbo redrew our family tree and permanently changed the way we think about who we are and how we got here. For readers of Richard Dawkins, David Reich, and Hope Jahren, Neanderthal Man is the must-read account of how he did it.
Author: Jeffrey H. Schwartz
Publisher: MIT Press
Release Date: 2018-02-02
Contributors from a range of disciplines consider the disconnect between human evolutionary studies and the rest of evolutionary biology. The study of human evolution often seems to rely on scenarios and received wisdom rather than theory and methodology, with each new fossil or molecular analysis interpreted as supporting evidence for the presumed lineage of human ancestry. We might wonder why we should pursue new inquiries if we already know the story. Is paleoanthropology an evolutionary science? Are analyses of human evolution biological? In this volume, contributors from disciplines that range from paleoanthropology to philosophy of science consider the disconnect between human evolutionary studies and the rest of evolutionary biology. All of the contributors reflect on their own research and its disciplinary context, considering how their fields of inquiry can move forward in new ways. The goal is to encourage a more multifaceted intellectual environment for the understanding of human evolution. Topics discussed include paleoanthropology's history of procedural idiosyncrasies; the role of mind and society in our evolutionary past; humans as large mammals rather than a special case; genomic analyses; computational approaches to phylogenetic reconstruction; descriptive morphology versus morphometrics; and integrating insights from archaeology into the interpretation of human fossils. Contributors Markus Bastir, Fred L. Bookstein, Claudine Cohen, Richard G. Delisle, Robin Dennell, Rob DeSalle, John de Vos, Emma M. Finestone, Huw S. Groucutt, Gabriele A. Macho, Fabrizzio Mc Manus, Apurva Narechania, Michael D. Petraglia, Thomas W. Plummer, J.W. F. Reumer, Jeff Rosenfeld, Jeffrey H. Schwartz, Dietrich Stout, Ian Tattersall, Alan R. Templeton, Michael Tessler, Peter J. Waddell, Martine Zilversmit
Author: Daniel J. Fairbanks
Publisher: Prometheus Books
Release Date: 2009-09-18
Since the publication in 1859 of Darwin’s Origin of Species, debate over the theory of evolution has been continuous and often impassioned. In recent years, opponents of "Darwin’s dangerous idea" have mounted history’s most sophisticated and generously funded attack, claiming that evolution is "a theory in crisis." Ironically, these claims are being made at a time when the explosion of information from genome projects has revealed the most compelling and overwhelming evidence of evolution ever discovered. Much of the latest evidence of human evolution comes not from our genes, but from so-called "junk DNA," leftover relics of our evolutionary history that make up the vast majority of our DNA. Relics of Eden explores this powerful DNA-based evidence of human evolution. The "relics" are the millions of functionally useless but scientifically informative remnants of our evolutionary ancestry trapped in the DNA of every person on the planet. For example, the analysis of the chimpanzee and Rhesus monkey genomes shows indisputable evidence of the human evolutionary relationship with other primates. Over 95 percent of our genome is identical with that of chimpanzees and we also have a good deal in common with other animal species. Author Daniel J. Fairbanks also discusses what DNA analysis reveals about where humans originated. The diversity of DNA sequences repeatedly confirms the archeological evidence that humans originated in sub-Saharan Africa (the "Eden" of the title) and from there migrated through the Middle East and Asia to Europe, Australia, and the Americas. In conclusion, Fairbanks confronts the supposed dichotomy between evolution and religion, arguing that both science and religion are complementary ways to seek truth. He appeals to the vast majority of Americans who hold religious convictions not to be fooled by the pseudoscience of Creationists and Intelligent Design advocates and to abandon the false dichotomy between religion and real science. This concise, very readable presentation of recent genetic research is completely accessible to the nonspecialist and makes for enlightening and fascinating reading.
Author: Jonathan Marks
Publisher: Univ of California Press
Release Date: 2015-09-08
Genre: Social Science
"This book is about the irreducibility of human evolution to purely biological properties and processes, for human evolution has incorporated the emergence of social relations and cultural histories that are unprecedented in the apes. Human evolution over the last few million years has involved the transformation from biological evolution into biocultural evolution. For several million years, human intelligence, dexterity, and technology all co-evolved with one another, although the first two are organic properties and the last is inorganic. Over the last few tens of thousands of years, the development of new social roles - notably, spouse, father, in-laws, and grandparents - have been combined with new technologies and symbolic meanings to produce the familiar human species. This leads to a fundamental evolutionary understanding of humans as biocultural ex-apes; reducible neither to an imaginary cultureless biological core, nor to our ancestry as apes. Consequently, there can be no 'natural history' of the human condition, or the human organism, which is not a 'natural/cultural history'."--Provided by publisher.
Author: Eviatar Zerubavel
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Release Date: 2011-11-04
Genre: Social Science
Genealogy has long been one of humanity's greatest obsessions. But with the rise of genetics, and increasing media attention to it through programs like Who Do You Think You Are? and Faces of America, we are now told that genetic markers can definitively tell us who we are and where we came from. The problem, writes Eviatar Zerubavel, is that biology does not provide us with the full picture. After all, he asks, why do we consider Barack Obama black even though his mother was white? Why did the Nazis believe that unions of Germans and Jews would produce Jews rather than Germans? In this provocative book, he offers a fresh understanding of relatedness, showing that its social logic sometimes overrides the biological reality it supposedly reflects. In fact, rather than just biological facts, social traditions of remembering and classifying shape the way we trace our ancestors, identify our relatives, and delineate families, ethnic groups, nations, and species. Furthermore, genealogies are more than mere records of history. Drawing on a wide range of evidence, Zerubavel introduces such concepts as braiding, clipping, pasting, lumping, splitting, stretching, and pruning to shed light on how we manipulate genealogies to accommodate personal and collective agendas of inclusion and exclusion. Rather than simply find out who our ancestors were and identify our relatives, we actually construct the genealogical narratives that make them our ancestors and relatives. An eye-opening re-examination of our very notion of relatedness, Ancestors and Relatives offers a new way of understanding family, ethnicity, nationhood, race, and humanity.
Author: Donald R. Prothero
Publisher: Columbia University Press
Release Date: 2007-11-06
Over the past twenty years, paleontologists have made tremendous fossil discoveries, including fossils that mark the growth of whales, manatees, and seals from land mammals and the origins of elephants, horses, and rhinos. Today there exists an amazing diversity of fossil humans, suggesting we walked upright long before we acquired large brains, and new evidence from molecules that enable scientists to decipher the tree of life as never before. The fossil record is now one of the strongest lines of evidence for evolution. In this engaging and richly illustrated book, Donald R. Prothero weaves an entertaining though intellectually rigorous history out of the transitional forms and series that dot the fossil record. Beginning with a brief discussion of the nature of science and the "monkey business of creationism," Prothero tackles subjects ranging from flood geology and rock dating to neo-Darwinism and macroevolution. He covers the ingredients of the primordial soup, the effects of communal living, invertebrate transitions, the development of the backbone, the reign of the dinosaurs, the mammalian explosion, and the leap from chimpanzee to human. Prothero pays particular attention to the recent discovery of "missing links" that complete the fossil timeline and details the debate between biologists over the mechanisms driving the evolutionary process. Evolution is an absorbing combination of firsthand observation, scientific discovery, and trenchant analysis. With the teaching of evolution still an issue, there couldn't be a better moment for a book clarifying the nature and value of fossil evidence. Widely recognized as a leading expert in his field, Prothero demonstrates that the transformation of life on this planet is far more awe inspiring than the narrow view of extremists.