Getting Here: The Story of Human Evolution

Getting Here: The Story of Human Evolution

Getting Here: The Story of Human Evolution

Getting Here: The Story of Human Evolution

Synopsis

Renowned anthropologist, author, and educator Howells, draws together the latest from all of today's sciences to tell the fascinating story of man's evolution. Long recognized as one of the world's foremost authorities and interpreters of human evolution, he is also known for his unique contribution of skull measurements to show relationships between peoples.

Excerpt

When today becomes yesterday, people will look back on our time as one when the sciences of nature began to move forward at a new pace. Like passengers in a plane, we ourselves may not sense the motion. But it is momentous.

Early in the present century, scientific progress had been picking up speed. Yet it is only since World War II that astronomers have seen the great walls of uncountable galaxies or the violent explosions of distant stars taking place in that calm black night. Only since then have geologists found the reasons for earthquakes and volcanoes by tracking the movements of continental plates. and until then biologists were still ignorant of the structure of dna, the stuff of genes and chromosomes. in fact, they were wrong in the middle 1950s -- just yesterday! -- about the number of chromosomes in the cells of our own well-studied species. Today the molecular sequences of genes and chromosomes can be read in detail, and genetic engineering is becoming almost commonplace.

Knowledge of our evolutionary past has also gone ahead, if not in so breath-taking a way. the sciences named above have been powered by equally imposing progress in technology: astronomers have space telescopes, and geologists have satellites and ocean-floor maps. But paleontologists have no such commanding ways of making fossils of the right kind and time appear at their bidding; as always, they must patiently keep looking in likely places. Paleontology is an arduous outdoor science.

Nevertheless, the numbers and kinds of fossils have been multiplying greatly. And, very important, the findings in other branches of biology -- specifically the molecular kind involving dna -- have made themselves felt. Because of these new things, we are changing the ways we think about human evolution. and we must take account of more complex evolutionary processes as we know them from zoology and genetics, while we also try to see past . . .

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