Masters of the Planet: Book summary and reviews of Masters of the Planet by Ian Tattersall

Masters of the Planet

The Search for Our Human Origins

by Ian Tattersall

Masters of the Planet by Ian Tattersall X
Masters of the Planet by Ian Tattersall
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Book Summary

When homo sapiens made their entrance 100,000 years ago they were confronted by a wide range of other early humans - homo erectus, who walked better and used fire; homo habilis who used tools; and of course the Neanderthals, who were brawny and strong. But shortly after their arrival, something happened that vaulted the species forward and made them the indisputable masters of the planet.

This book is devoted to revealing just what that difference is. It explores how the physical traits and cognitive ability of homo sapiens distanced them from the rest of nature. Even more importantly, Masters of the Planet looks at how our early ancestors acquired these superior abilities; it shows that their strange and unprecedented mental facility is not, as most of us were taught, simply a basic competence that was refined over unimaginable eons by natural selection. Instead, it is an emergent capacity that was acquired quite recently and changed the world definitively.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. A superb overview of how our species developed (a long process) and how we grew smart enough to dominate the planet... Keeping a critical eye on the evidence and a skeptical one on theories, Tattersall confirms his status among world anthropologists by delivering a superior popular explanation of human origins." - Kirkus Reviews

"Tattersall moves through the complex fossil records effortlessly and with a welcome sense of wonder. He also consistently conveys a deep knowledge of his subject... Tattersall's combination of erudition and a conversational style make this is an excellent primer on human evolution." - Publishers Weekly

"An excellent book for high school and college students as well as general readers." - Library Journal

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Author Information

Ian Tattersall

Ian Tattersall, PhD is a curator in the Division of Anthropology of the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, where he co-curates the Spitzer Hall of Human Origins. He is the acknowledged leader of the human fossil record, and has won several awards, including the Institute of Human Origins Lifetime Achievement Award. Tattersall has appeared on Charlie Rose and NPR's Science Friday and has written for Scientific American and Archaeology. He's been widely cited by the media, including The New York Times, BBC, MSNBC, and National Geographic. Tattersall is the author of Becoming Human, among others. He lives in New York City.

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