Ancestors in Our Genome : The New Science of Human Evolution
LJ Reviews 2014 November #1
Harris (biology, Queensborough Community Coll.; New York Univ.) explains how genomics begins to unravel the details of our species' origins. With genetic maps for living people, other primates, and fossil ancestors, scientists are beginning to piece together our relationship to our predecessors and ascertain which genes make us human, one trait at a time. Harris recounts these developments in language any motivated reader who has taken high school biology can understand. He lucidly defines cladistics and genetic drift and explains the role of each gene mentioned. Crisp, grayscale diagrams enhance the smooth prose. Harris's work might reach a wider audience with more thorough explanations of protein synthesis, the relationship between Mendelian and molecular genetics, and gaps in the fossil record. For readers seeking additional background in basic genetics, there is Daniel Fairbank's Relics of Eden, while Mark Jobling and others' Human Evolutionary Genetics offers an advanced approach. Sadly, the publisher lists Harris's affiliation solely as New York University rather than also Queensborough Community College, which Harris uses with other publications, and where he communicates with an extended following. VERDICT Simply indispensable for any reader wishing to learn about the latest research on human origins.—Eileen H. Kramer, Georgia Perimeter Coll. Lib., Clarkston[Page 111]. (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
PW Reviews 2014 October #1
With the sequencing of the human genome, the genomes of many of our primate relatives, and those of both Neanderthals and Denisovans (another hominin), scientists are now able to answer previously unimaginable questions about our origins. Harris, of New York University's Center for the Study of Human Origins, uses these new data sets and tools to "tell the story of the genetic quest, from small stretches of DNA to entire genomes, to trace our past to the origin of our lineage and find our closest ape relative." He presents a sophisticated introduction to population genetics, explaining how gene data can be used to verify or dismiss competing hypotheses for how and when early humans moved out of Africa; the size and timing of the ancestral population that gave rise to both humans and chimpanzees; and how and when humans, and perhaps human ancestors, developed the ability to speak. Harris also explores the current knowledge of individual gene changes that underlie human physiology and behavior, and describes how we know how much Neanderthal and Denisovan genetic material is extant in various human groups while discussing the evolutionary implications of those remnants. The book is technical, thus challenging for the general reader, but is written well enough to make the effort worthwhile. B&w illus. (Dec.)[Page ]. Copyright 2014 PWxyz LLC