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A captivating survey of the science of wine and winemaking for anyone who has ever wondered about the magic of the fermented grape

An excellent bottle of wine can be the spark that inspires a brainstorming session. Such was the case for Ian Tattersall and Rob DeSalle, scientists who frequently collaborate on book and museum exhibition projects. When the conversation turned to wine one evening, it almost inevitably led the two—one a paleoanthropologist, the other a molecular biologist—to begin exploring the many intersections between science and wine. This book presents their fascinating, freewheeling answers to the question "What can science tell us about
wine?" And vice versa.

Conversational and accessible to everyone, this colorfully illustrated book embraces almost every imaginable area of the sciences, from microbiology and ecology (for an understanding of what creates this complex beverage) to physiology and neurobiology (for insight into the effects of wine on the mind and body). The authors draw on physics, chemistry biochemistry
evolution, and climatology, and they expand the discussion to include insights from anthropology, primatology, entomology, Neolithic archaeology, and even classical history. The resulting volume is indispensable for anyone who wishes to appreciate wine to its fullest.

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In his new book, 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—Ian 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, Ian 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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After several million years of jostling for ecological space, only one survivor from a host of hominid species remains standing: us. Human beings are extraordinary creatures, and it is the unprecedented human brain that makes them so. In this delightfully accessible book, the authors present the first full, step-by-step account of the evolution of the brain and nervous system.

Tapping the very latest findings in evolutionary biology, neuroscience, and molecular biology, Ian and Rob DeSalle explain how the cognitive gulf that separates us from all other living creatures could have occurred. They discuss the development and uniqueness of human consciousness, how human and nonhuman brains work, the roles of different nerve cells, the importance of memory and language in brain functions, and much more. Our brains, they conclude, are the product of a lengthy and supremely untidy history—an evolutionary process of many zigs and zags—that has accidentally resulted in a splendidly eccentric and creative product.

 

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Fifty thousand years ago—merely a blip in evolutionary time—our Homo sapiens ancestors were competing for existence with several other human species, just as their precursors had done for millions of years. Yet something about our species distinguished it from the pack, and ultimately led to its survival while the rest became extinct. Just what was it that allowed Homo sapiens to become masters of the planet? Ian takes us deep into the fossil record to uncover what made humans so special. Surveying a vast field from initial bipedality to language and intelligence, Ian argues that Homo sapiens acquired a winning combination of traits that was not the result of long-term evolutionary refinement. Instead, the final result emerged quickly, shocking our world and changing it forever.

 

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Race has provided the rationale and excuse for some of the worst atrocities in human history. Yet, according to many biologists, physical anthropologists, and geneticists, there is no valid scientific justification for the concept of race.

The overarching message of Race? Debunking a Scientific Myth is that scientifically speaking, there is nothing special about racial variation within the human species. These distinctions result from the working of entirely mundane evolutionary processes, such as those encountered in other organisms.

 

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Paleontology: A Brief History of Life is the fifth title published in the Templeton Science and Religion Series, in which scientists from a wide range of fields distill their experience and knowledge into brief tours of their respective specialties. In this volume, Ian leads a fascinating tour of the history of life and the evolution of human beings.

Starting at the very beginning, Ian examines patterns of change in the biosphere over time, and the correlations of biological events with physical changes in the Earth’s environment. He introduces the complex of evolutionary processes, situates human beings in the luxuriant diversity of life (demonstrating that however remarkable we may legitimately find ourselves to be, we are the product of the same basic forces and processes that have driven the evolutionary histories of all other creatures), and he places the origin of our extraordinary spiritual sensibilities in the context of the exaptational and emergent acquisition of symbolic cognition and thought.

Concise and yet comprehensive, historically penetrating and yet up-to-date, responsibly factual and yet engaging, Paleontology serves as the perfect entrée to science's greatest story.

 

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Extensively revised and updated, the second edition of The Fossil Trail: How We Know What We Think We Know About Human Evolution offers a colorful history of fossil discoveries and a revealing insider's look at how these finds have been interpreted—and misinterpreted—through time. It covers the dramatic increase in the size and scope of the human fossil record as well as new techniques for analyzing and interpreting that record that have emerged in the 13 intervening years since the first edition's publication. Ian places the researchers and their discoveries within the context of their social and scientific milieus and reveals the many forces that shape our interpretation of fossil findings.

 

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To be human is to be curious. And one of the things we are most curious about is how we came to be who we are—how we evolved over millions of years to become creatures capable of inquiring into our own evolution.

In this lively and readable introduction, Ian thoroughly examines both fossil and archaeological records to trace human evolution from the earliest beginnings of our zoological family, Hominidae, through the appearance of Homo sapiens to the Agricultural Revolution. He begins with an accessible overview of evolutionary theory and then explores the major turning points in human evolution: the emergence of the genus Homo, the advantages of bipedalism, the birth of the big brain and symbolic thinking, Paleolithic and Neolithic tool making, and finally the enormously consequential shift from hunter-gatherer to agricultural societies 10,000 years ago. Focusing particularly on the pattern of events and innovations in human biological and cultural evolution, Ian offers illuminating commentary on a wide range of topics, including the earliest known artistic expressions, ancient burial rites, the beginnings of language, the likely causes of Neanderthal extinction, the relationship between agriculture and Christianity, and the still unsolved mysteries of human consciousness.

Complemented by a wealth of illustrations and written with the grace and accessibility for which Ian is widely admired, The World From Beginnings to 4000 BCE invites us to take a closer look at the strange and distant beings who, over the course of millions of years, would become us.

 

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Based on the new Spitzer Hall of Human Origins in the American Museum of Natural History, which opened in February 2007, this book about the genome takes the young reader to the cutting edge of science, exploring and examining the tools by which we study our origins, some of the milestones in those origins, human movement across the planet and the beginnings of being human—through language, music, art and tools.

 

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Lemurs are primates found exclusively on Madagascar, but their appearance and the extraordinary diversity of species have captured the interest of primate watchers everywhere.

This guide profiles all 50 known species and subspecies of lemurs, from their origins and discovery to recent studies and on-going conservation efforts. Included are full descriptions, many color images, maps showing distribution patterns, and detailed drawings of the postures and behaviors used by naturalists to distinguish between species.

 

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The Human Fossil Record series is the most authoritative and comprehensive documentation of the fossil evidence relevant to the study of our evolutionary past. It fills the critical need for a complete resource that provides detailed morphological descriptions based on uniformly applied protocols, along with all new photographs taken exclusively for the series. This fourth volume covers the craniodental remains of early hominids of the genera Australopithecus, Paranthropus, Orrorin, as well as providing a concluding survey of hominid craniodental morphologies.

In this monumental and groundbreaking new series, the authors use clearly defined terminology and descriptive protocols that are applied uniformly throughout. Organized alphabetically by site name, with detailed morphological descriptions and original, expertly taken photographs, each entry features:

  • Morphology
  • Location information
  • History of discovery
  • Previous systematic assessments of the fossils
  • Geological, archaeological, and faunal contexts
  • Dating
  • References to the primary literature

The Human Fossil Record series is truly a must-have reference for anyone interested in the study of human evolution.

 

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Scientists have long envisioned the human “family tree” as a straight-line progression from the apelike australopithecines to the enigmatic Homo habilis to the famous Neanderthals, culminating in us, Homo sapiens. But this model is unlike the evolutionary patterns known for all other vertebrates—patterns that typically reveal multiple branchings and extinctions. In Extinct Humans, Ian and Jeffrey Schwartz present convincing evidence that many distinct species of humans have existed during the history of the hominid family, often simultaneously. Furthermore, these species may have contributed to one another’s extinction. Who were these different human species? Which are direct ancestors to us? And, the most profound question of all, why is there only a single human species alive on Earth now?

 

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Now widely recognized as a standard in the field, the Encyclopedia of Human Evolution and Prehistory provides the most complete context possible for understanding the 65-million-year story of humankind's origins. The Encyclopedia gathers the work of 49 internationally recognized scholars, each a leading authority writing under the guidance of a distinguished team of editors from the American Museum of Natural History. They have prepared over 800 entries, ranging from brief definitions of technical terms to in-depth, lengthy essays on broad topics such as evolutionary theory, genetics and Palaeolithic archaeology. This range makes the Encyclopedia a suitable tool for scholars and readers in a variety of fields, including archaeology, palaeontology, primateology, and genetics. Each entry offers an authoritative and objective explanation of its topic, written in clear, concise language. In discussions of contested and controversial topics, the contributors present a full range of opinion, with extensive cross-references

 

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In Becoming Human, Ian explores what makes us uniquely human, the qualities that set us apart from our ancestors, and the significance of our knowledge. A worldwide tour of discovery, Ian takes the reader from 30,000-year-old cave paintings in France and anthropological digs in Africa, to examining human behavior in a New York restaurant. And by offering wisdom gleaned from fossil remains, primate behavior, prehistoric art, and archaeology, Ian presents a stunning picture of where humankind evolved, how Darwin's theories have changed, and what we reliably know about modern-day human's capacity for love, language, and thought. Widely praised in the media, and an Amazon.com Top-10 bestseller, Becoming Human is an amazing trip into the past and into the future.

 

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Scientists have long known that the popular image of the Neanderthal as a primitive, hairy, heavily browed, club-wielding brute is not supported by the fossil evidence. But to date, no such consensus has existed on the riddle of Neanderthals' disappearance. The Last Neanderthal, written by one of the most respected authorities on the subject and supported by a dazzling wealth of material, paints the first full portrait of the most familiar and haunting of human relatives. Drawing on the latest findings and sophisticated new techniques of analysis, Ian marshals the best available evidence to unravel the mysteries of the Neanderthals—who they were, how they lived, how they succeeded for so long. Drawing on his own research and the work of others, Ian takes on the most fascinating question of all—what happened to them? This revised edition is fully updated to include information on Ian's recent survey of all known Neanderthal fossils and cutting-edge work with Neanderthal DNA.

 

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