THE STRANGE CASE OF THE RICKETY COSSACK ~ And Other Cautionary Tales from Human Evolution
Book review and technical detail THE STRANGE CASE OF THE RICKETY COSSACK ~ And Other Cautionary Tales from Human Evolution Ian Tattersall
|Technical detail of THE STRANGE CASE OF THE RICKETY COSSACK ~ And Other Cautionary Tales from Human Evolution|
|Title||THE STRANGE CASE OF THE RICKETY COSSACK ~ And Other Cautionary Tales from Human Evolution|
|Category||Science & Technology|
|Publisher||St. Martin's Press|
|Publishing Date||1st January, 1970|
Despite his 2012 history of Homo sapiens, Masters of the Planet, Tattersall, babysitter emeritus in the anthropology assay of the American Museum of Natural History, revisits the accountable from addition angle, with appropriately superb results. In the beforehand work, the columnist corrective animal change with a ample brush. Rewinding the tape, he delivers a history of the affirmation itself (until recently, the majority of the affirmation consisted of bones) and how paleoanthropologists interpreted it—mostly according to accustomed wisdom, a abhorrent address continued alone by added sciences. Examining aboriginal Neanderthal bones, those who believed these represented article new were drowned out by those who didn’t: best famously, a arch pathologist who insisted that this was a avant-garde man with a skeleton adulterated by rickets, arthritis, and a lifetime of horseback riding—the Rickety Cossack of the title. Proceeding forward, Tattersall mixes biographies, anecdotes (many about himself), discoveries, and angry controversies as advisers approved to admit anniversary new award into the currently fashionable approach of animal evolution. “Nineteenth aeon scientists adopted to see a acceptable Darwinian progression from apelike antecedent to avant-garde human,” writes the author. Their 20th-century birth were apathetic to acquire that change in all nonhuman activity is beneath a beeline clump to accomplishment than a blowzy backcountry that produces a assortment of species. Readers will allotment Tattersall’s amusement at the changes he witnessed on entering the profession in the 1970s, back cladistics (a biological allocation system), atomic genetics, and DNA assay delivered an barrage of beginning information, a new appearance of our affiliation to added species, active and extinct, and affluence of controversies. An opinionated, authoritative, and alluringly annoying annual of efforts to accomplish faculty of animal deposit discoveries.
In his new book The Strange Case of the Rickety Cossack, human paleoanthropologist Ian Tattersall argues that a long tradition of "human exceptionalism" in paleoanthropology has distorted the picture of human evolution. Drawing partly on his own career―from young scientist in awe of his elders to crotchety elder statesman―Tattersall offers an idiosyncratic look at the competitive world of paleoanthropology, beginning with Charles Darwin 150 years ago, and continuing through the Leakey dynasty in Africa, and concluding with the latest astonishing findings in the Caucasus.The book's title refers to the 1856 discovery of a clearly very old skull cap in Germany's Neander Valley. The possessor had a brain as large as a modern human, but a heavy low braincase with a prominent brow ridge. Scientists tried hard to explain away the inconvenient possibility that this was not actually our direct relative. One extreme interpretation suggested that the preserved leg bones were curved by both rickets, and by a life on horseback. The pain of the unfortunate individual's affliction had caused him to chronically furrow his brow in agony, leading to the excessive development of bone above the eye sockets. The subsequent history of human evolutionary studies is full of similarly fanciful interpretations. With tact and humor, Tattersall concludes that we are not the perfected products of natural processes, but instead the result of substantial doses of random happenstance.
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