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The Evolution of the Human Head 1st Edition

9 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0674046368
ISBN-10: 0674046366
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Editorial Reviews


Lieberman's integrated approach will make his book a forum for a way of thinking in human evolution that has not yet found its equal in print. (Christopher Dean, University College London)

This is an outstanding book. Lieberman draws from a wide variety of disciplines, including bone biology, embryology, morphometrics, functional anatomy, and paleontology to forge a masterful synthesis of the evolution of the human head. It will be the definitive reference for decades. (John G. Fleagle, Department of Anatomical Sciences, Stony Brook University)

Lieberman offers acute descriptions of anatomy, embryology, physiology, and hominid fossils, while providing an exciting way to observe the relationships among structures, functions, and evolutionary variance. (Scott Vieira Library Journal 2011-01-01)

Lieberman dives deep into the cranium, showing just how much of what we consider to be human is connected to what happens above the neck. (Carolyn Y. Johnson Boston Globe 2011-01-30)

Daniel Lieberman has written a wonderful and inspiring book about the human head's evolution...One stands in awe at the work that has gone into it...This encyclopedic book is transformative...The morphological details in Lieberman's book make it a direct descendant of Gray's Anatomy...If a single word describes this book, it is integrative. The author integrates material from anatomy, physiology, physics, biomechanics, molecular and developmental biology, but brings all under the umbrella of evolutionary theory. (Chris McManus Times Higher Education 2011-02-17)

This [is an] impressive book...This hefty and well-written book offers a scholarly breadth and attention to detail that are certainly laudable. The book is quite unusual in that it includes a comprehensive review of the soft tissues associated with cranial features and discusses them within the context of evolutionary morphology and the fossil record of the human skull. I can think of no other volume that packages the anatomy of the human head in this fashion...Lieberman's big book definitely moves us ahead in effectively synthesizing so much of what is currently understood about the structure, function and evolution of the human head. (Brian T. Shea American Scientist 2011-03-01)

By rooting his study in the basics of tissue mechanics and functional morphology, Lieberman does the spadework to which all such studies aspire but few achieve--and makes that task seem elegant and effortless. (Henry Gee Nature 2011-03-17)

Daniel Lieberman marshals diverse evidence to provide a comprehensive framework for understanding patterns of variation and covariation in the form, function, and phylogeny of the human head...The breadth and diversity of subject matter the volume will impart to the reader is particularly laudable. Lieberman's holistic approach is a welcome, if not requisite, strategy for addressing a multifarious biological system such as the human head. The book's focus on both hard- and soft-tissue components, consideration of how such elements correspond to one another, and comprehensive overview of external and internal influences on patterns of morphological variation and covariation clearly set the tone for how one might profitably investigate cranial evolution across all vertebrates. The introductions to myriad biological concepts, surveys of some modern approaches to outstanding paleoanthropological questions, and review of fossil evidence regarding evolutionary transformations in human skull form will enlighten readers of all backgrounds. The Evolution of the Human Head is an entertaining read...It contains a wealth of information relevant to human evolution. In doing so, it offers a wonderful entrée into many of the outstanding issues that will undoubtedly remain at the center of debates regarding human origins for years to come. (Matthew J. Ravosa Science 2011-09-16)

About the Author

Daniel E. Lieberman is Professor of Human Evolutionary Biology at Harvard.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 768 pages
  • Publisher: Belknap Press; 1 edition (January 3, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0674046366
  • ISBN-13: 978-0674046368
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.7 x 1.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #360,143 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By matt wallden on February 4, 2012
Format: Hardcover
For many years now, Professor Lieberman has been bringing out some of the most insightful papers I have read in anthropology.

In the field of human biomechanics, a field in which I am very well versed, it acts as a constant source of inspiration and bemusement that we should have to wait for a professor of evolutionary biology to explain how and why the human body functions as it does; while biomechanists the world over get caught (in the main) in reductionist, often impractical, non-applicable studies.

Despite the bemusement, it comes as no surprise to me that such insight should arise from the world of anthropology; as to understand how the human body should function, it is imperative to understand how, and for what, it was built. Lieberman offers such insights with spectacular clarity and humility.

The depth and breadth of the materials covered, yet all in a highly readable and understandable way - even for the casual reader, is testament to Lieberman's wealth of knowledge and unique ability to convey that knowledge. I learned quickly, about a decade ago, that if there is a paper (or book) with Lieberman's name on it, it is worth paying attention to.

The book itself delves not just into the human head but, necessarily, discusses diet, hunting, gait, TMJ (jaw joint) function, vestibular function and a lot more besides; all in an insightful and highly readable style.

I strongly recommend this book to any student of anthropology, evolutionary biology, or serious student of human movement and function.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Ken C on January 24, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I'm a recently retired professor of human anatomy & physiology, and I wish I had had this text before retiring. I enjoyed reading this book as what is now only recreation for me rather than material for my courses, continuing to learn about the details and perspectives of the developmental and evolutionary changes leading to the adult human head that, frankly, I confess that I didn't know while teaching A&P for almost 40 years, and that's why I wish I had this book years ago in order to enhance the information that I otherwise could have offered my students. Oh, well. While I can't use it anymore for teaching, I highly recommend this book to current A&P faculty.
And as an afterthought, although I cannot speak as an anthropologist, I would imagine that those in that field, both faculty and grad students, would also immensely appreciate the contents of this work.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Reid M. Wilson on February 1, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The Evolution of the Human Head begins with Daniel E. Lieberman highlighting the movie nonlogic of Planet of the Apes that shows apes functioning in a human manner with ape heads, which I appreciated. Lieberman demonstrates the complexity and evolvability of the head as a structure and emphasizes that the various components interact with and affect each other in development throughout the book. The book covers bone structuring, organs, senses, diet, teeth, and the characteristics of living and fossil primates. Page 40 notes the importance of the gene Runx-2 (also known as Cbfa 1) that regulates osteoblast differentiation in intramembranous bones so that elevated levels of expression cause increased rates of bone production, and the gene's absence leads to a lack of bone formation; page 40 also notes the importance of the Sox9 transcription factor for the differentiation and proliferation of chondrocytes for endochondral bones. The differences in skull development from neonate to adult for the chimpanzee and the modern human are shown in Figure 4.3 on page 105, in Figure 4.7 on page 116, and in Figure 4.9 on page 125, showing the projecting effect of depository growth fields in the chimp's jaws and the nonprojecting effect of resorptive growth fields in the human's upper jaws and face and in the upper lower jaw.Read more ›
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29 of 41 people found the following review helpful By Harry Phillips III on January 16, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A tour de force! Beautifully written, it covers everything science knows about the subject, contains detailed comparisons with other primates, especially our nearest cousins, and speculation about what Dr. Lieberman believes we will learn in time.
Harry Phillips
Regent, University of the State of New York.
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Reader beware. While I greatly enjoyed Dr. Lieberman's book-- The Story of the Human Body: Evolution, Health and Disease--this volume is for a far more technical audience. Let me give you a sample:

"The prosencephalic signaling center produces signaling factor (Shh and Fgf8) that induce neural crest cells surrounding the forebrain to differentiate into mesenchymal cells that make up the upper third of the face above the stomodeum..."

If that all makes sense to you, then you are probably the right audience. But if not, think twice before investing.
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