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Paleofantasy: Book summary and reviews of Paleofantasy by Marlene Zuk

Paleofantasy

What Evolution Really Tells Us about Sex, Diet, and How We Live

by Marlene Zuk

Paleofantasy

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About this book

Book Summary

An exposé of pseudoscientific myths about our evolutionary past and how we should live today.

We evolved to eat berries rather than bagels, to live in mud huts rather than condos, to sprint barefoot rather than play football - or did we? Are our bodies and brains truly at odds with modern life? Although it may seem as though we have barely had time to shed our hunter-gatherer legacy, biologist Marlene Zuk reveals that the story is not so simple. Popular theories about how our ancestors lived - and why we should emulate them - are often based on speculation, not scientific evidence. live today.

Armed with a razor-sharp wit and brilliant, eye-opening research, Zuk takes us to the cutting edge of biology to show that evolution can work much faster than was previously realized, meaning that we are not biologically the same as our caveman ancestors.

Contrary to what the glossy magazines would have us believe, we do not enjoy potato chips because they crunch just like the insects our forebears snacked on. And women don't go into shoe-shopping frenzies because their prehistoric foremothers gathered resources for their clans. live today.

As Zuk compellingly argues, such beliefs incorrectly assume that we're stuck—finished evolving—and have been for tens of thousands of years. She draws on fascinating evidence that examines everything from adults' ability to drink milk to the texture of our ear wax to show that we've actually never stopped evolving. Our nostalgic visions of an ideal evolutionary past in which we ate, lived, and reproduced as we were "meant to" fail to recognize that we were never perfectly suited to our environment. Evolution is about change, and every organism is full of trade-offs. live today.

From debunking the caveman diet to unraveling gender stereotypes, Zuk delivers an engrossing analysis of widespread paleofantasies and the scientific evidence that undermines them, all the while broadening our understanding of our origins and what they can really tell us about our present and our future.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. Though the jury's still out on what humans will be like further down the road, Zuk's is an informative and entertaining pit stop." - Publishers Weekly

"Zuk explains that evolution (in all organisms) can and does happen by genetic drift (an isolated group may, over time, concentrate particular genes), by gene inflow (when new groups mix with an existing group), by mutation (gene errors) and by natural selection, which looks at traits associated with greater reproductive success. Nothing beats good hard data to debunk myths, and Zuk offers plenty." - Kirkus

"Paleofantasy cuts through a confusing tangle of facts and claims to give us a trustworthy road map to the glorious problems of who we are and where we come from." - Richard Wrangham, author of Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human

"In highly readable style, Marlene Zuk downplays our paleo-heritage. Not only did we change culturally, we are also genetically a different animal." - Frans de Waal, author of The Bonobo and The Atheist

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Marlene Zuk is a professor of ecology, evolution and behavior at the University of Minnesota. The author of Sex on Six Legs, she lives in St. Paul, Minnesota.

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