Resistance to malaria. Blue eyes. Lactose tolerance. What do all of these traits have in common? Every one of them has emerged in the last 10,000 years.
Scientists have long believed that the “great leap forward” that occurred some 40,000 to 50,000 years ago in Europe marked end of significant biological evolution in humans. In this stunningly original account of our evolutionary history, top scholars Gregory Cochran and Henry Harpending reject this conventional wisdom and reveal that the human species has undergone a storm of genetic change much more recently. Human evolution in fact accelerated after civilization arose, they contend, and these ongoing changes have played a pivotal role in human history. They argue that biology explains the expansion of the Indo-Europeans, the European conquest of the Americas, and European Jews' rise to intellectual prominence. In each of these cases, the key was recent genetic change: adult milk tolerance in the early Indo-Europeans that allowed for a new way of life, increased disease resistance among the Europeans settling America, and new versions of neurological genes among European Jews.
Ranging across subjects as diverse as human domestication, Neanderthal hybridization, and IQ tests, Cochran and Harpending's analysis demonstrates convincingly that human genetics have changed and can continue to change much more rapidly than scientists have previously believed. A provocative and fascinating new look at human evolution that turns conventional wisdom on its head, The 10,000 Year Explosion reveals the ongoing interplay between culture and biology in the making of the human race.
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About the Author
Gregory Cochran is a physicist and Adjunct Professor of Anthropology at the University of Utah. For many years, he worked on lasers and image enhancement in the field of aerospace. He lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Henry Harpending holds the Thomas Chair as Distinguished Professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Utah. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences. A field anthropologist and population geneticist, he helped develop the “Out of Africa” theory of human origins. He lives in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Gregory Cochran and Henry Harpending’s research has been featured in the New York Times, The Economist, Los Angeles Times, Jerusalem Post, Atlantic Monthly, Science, Seed, and more.
Table of Contents
1 Overview: Conventional Wisdom 1
2 The Neanderthal Within 25
3 Agriculture: The Big Change 65
4 Consequences of Agriculture 85
5 Gene Flow 129
6 Expansions 155
7 Medieval Evolution: How the Ashkenazi Jews Got their Smarts 187
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Well written. Wish I would have bought the paperback version so I could physically leaf through the book. Anyone interested in human evolution during the last 50,000 years will find this book intriguing.
This book is creative in the sense that is presents a different and radical version of human evolution. I would recommend it to those interested in evolution and believe in evolution and would like to see a new aspect of it. It does fail to provide concrete evidence to support a theory most of it is based on assumptions. They did however provide some interesting examples that could or might support their theory yet I still think they should have waited to publish this book and done more research because I am not entirely convinced of this new theory of human evolution. Some parts of the books are confusing and may require rereading and patience. The theory provided may seem like a possibility but that is all it is, a probable possibility.
Interesting, but far from convincing. The book puts forth the argument that human beings have continued to evolve since the dispersion out of Africa, and even since the beginning of recorded history. The book contains some genuinely interesting ideas, in particular the possible importance in history of the emergence of mutations favoring lactose tolerance. But it does not contain much in the way of supporting evidence. There ia a lot of "might be" and "doesn't rule out the possibility that" etc. etc. I look forward to seeing some of these ideas in a more fully developed -- and evidentially support -- form. Without evidential support, these arguments are not just questionable, they are potentially dangerous.
Pity it is poorly written. It needed a better editor. Too many propositions of the sort .. "This is so because xyz which we'll tell you about later.." The authors are racing ahead of themselves with their idea without giving sufficient proof.
Overwritten, did not feel reliable, too much was repeating the standard story, develops fully the notion that genetic evolution is ongoing and has played a role not just in the origins of humans but in their prehistory and even history.
This book is 90 percent speculation, but it's interesting speculation and raises questions that should be asked. Anyone with any common sense and a reasonable understanding of biological evolution realizes that human populations are affected by evolutionary pressures in the short term as well as the long term, so the book isn't as revolutionary as the authors would like you to think. Still, the sort of small evolutionary changes discussed in this book have only recently begun to be studied and there is much more studying to do. The examples given by the authors are interesting. The explanations offered by the authors for the cause of the examples betray their limited understanding of areas outside of their specialty - they particularly tend to discount cultural pressures, but are good starting points for discussion and contemplation of possibilities.In many ways, this would be a particularly good book club book, because there is so much in it to argue about. It's definitely worth reading once.