An American Museum of Natural History curator offers eight loosely interconnected essays on the multidisciplinary scientific quest to decipher human origins via studying nonlinear evolutionary patterns and Neanderthal technology. There are no references and no index or illustrations. Tattersall's On Becoming Human won an award from the American Anthropological Association. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
In eight essays, anthropologist and American Museum of Natural History curator Tattersall (Becoming Human) explores the current understanding of organic evolution in terms of science and reason. He stresses the creative diversity of life forms throughout biological history, including the past existence of different hominid species. His own interpretation of evolution maintains that there have been three major episodic innovations in the emergence of humankind (each separated by about two million years): upright bipedality, Paleolithic technology, and the modern bodily anatomy. Of special interest is Tattersall's critical analysis of the so-called Neandertal problem. Oddly, he does not discuss space travel or genetic engineering in regard to the future of our species. Furthermore, Tattersall does not rigorously emphasize the power of scientific inquiry and the fact of organic evolution in the face of ongoing threats to empirical explanations, e.g., postmodernism, biblical fundamentalism, and religious creationism. Consequently, this is not the groundbreaking and helpful book it could have been. Even so, it is suitable for large science collections. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 7/01.] H. James Birx, Canisius Coll., Buffalo, NY Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.