The Story of the Human Body

The Story of the Human Body

Evolution, Health, and Disease

Book - 2013
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Random House, Inc.
In this landmark book of popular science, Daniel E. Lieberman—chair of the department of human evolutionary biology at Harvard University and a leader in the field—gives us a lucid and engaging account of how the human body evolved over millions of years, even as it shows how the increasing disparity between the jumble of adaptations in our Stone Age bodies and advancements in the modern world is occasioning this paradox: greater longevity but increased chronic disease.

The Story of the Human Body brilliantly illuminates as never before the major transformations that contributed key adaptations to the body: the rise of bipedalism; the shift to a non-fruit-based diet; the advent of hunting and gathering, leading to our superlative endurance athleticism; the development of a very large brain; and the incipience of cultural proficiencies. Lieberman also elucidates how cultural evolution differs from biological evolution, and how our bodies were further transformed during the Agricultural and Industrial Revolutions.

While these ongoing changes have brought about many benefits, they have also created conditions to which our bodies are not entirely adapted, Lieberman argues, resulting in the growing incidence of obesity and new but avoidable diseases, such as type 2 diabetes. Lieberman proposes that many of these chronic illnesses persist and in some cases are intensifying because of “dysevolution,” a pernicious dynamic whereby only the symptoms rather than the causes of these maladies are treated. And finally—provocatively—he advocates the use of evolutionary information to help nudge, push, and sometimes even compel us to create a more salubrious environment.

(With charts and line drawings throughout.)

Baker & Taylor
A Harvard evolutionary biologist presents an engaging discussion of how the human body has evolved over millions of years, examining how an increasing disparity between the needs of Stone Age bodies and the realities of the modern world are fueling a paradox of greater longevity and chronic disease.

& Taylor

Examines the key adaptations to the body, discusses how these changes have been both beneficial and harmful, and proposes that many chronic illnesses persist because only the symptoms are being treated.

Publisher: New York : Pantheon Books, 2013
ISBN: 9780307379412
Branch Call Number: 612 LIE
Characteristics: pages cm


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Jul 17, 2018

This was an enjoyable book even though it was written in a talking style, which, for its subject matter and length ran the risk of becoming annoying; rather, it was consistently friendly and clear and spurred the interest of the reader with the use of series of questions. The physical developments of early pre-humans was relatively brief (but he had to keep it relevant ), and his explanation of the illnesses people now suffer, due to the convergence of our physical and cultural evolution was brilliant and insightful. Lengthy notes, and a concluding chapter giving advice.

Feb 01, 2018

Relies on evidence to tell the history of human evolution when available, otherwise postulates developments based on evolutionary theory e.g. explanation for investment of surplus energy into production of brainier offspring in archaic homo. Sometimes this appears just a little too convenient. Very careful to differentiate what is known vs. hypothetical. Details the source and mechanisms of several diseases than develops an argument why an evolutionary perspective can prevent or perhaps reverse these conditions. Occasionally makes tentative recommendations that border on medical advice e.g. chew gum to enhance jaw growth, follow anti biotics with pro biotics. Well organised, each chapter and section introduces, elaborates and re-caps. Extensive annotation. Very easy to read with minimal technical language.

tannazjp Jan 03, 2015

Easy to read and interesting :)

Jan 10, 2014

An anthropological review of our homin ancestors and their eating habits is followed by a discussion of the effects of the agricultural revolution on our bodies and the diseases it generated. The last half of the book discusses the diseases and conditions which we suffer today because of the mismatch between our lifestyles and the bodies we inherited from our hunter gatherer ancestors. I found it interesting that modern hunter gatherer seldom suffer from these diseases and conditions.


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