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Self-Made Man: Human Evolution From Eden to Extinction? Hardcover – International Edition, August 16, 1993

ISBN-13: 978-0471305385 ISBN-10: 0471305383 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 369 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (August 16, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0471305383
  • ISBN-13: 978-0471305385
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.2 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,006,553 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Prehistoric humans, in Oxford zoologist Kingdon's view, were preoccupied with making, fine-tuning and applying tools. In his ambitous scenario, the quest for new technologies, rather than pure Darwinian selection, played a key role in human evolution. By speculatively mapping the dispersal of modern humans out of Africa across the continents, Kingdon fleshes out the currently fashionable "Noah's Ark model" of evolution, which is rejected by those paleoanthropologists who support a multiple-origins model. This provocative and lively saga of human origins also contends that the four or five classic "races" share a highly mixed genetic past, with Africans being "genetically the most diverse people on earth." Europeans, by Kingdon's reckoning, are mostly recent migrants out of Africa and the Middle East, while the Japanese are a mix of Koreans and Ainu. Kingdon calls today's environmental movement "a major turning point in human history," as society seeks to put limits on technology's dangerous side effects. Illustrated.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Kingdon is an Oxford University zoologist and artist whose important works include East African Mammals: An Atlas of Evolution in Africa (Academic Pr., 1971). His newest book is an attempt to map out the geography and ecology of prehuman and human populations, beginning with the radiation of Homo erectus from Africa, continuing with a second wave of African migration--this time by modern humans--and ending with the differentiation of the races as populations adapted to local environments. Kingdon's arguments about the primacy of technology in food gathering and transportation can be hard to follow as he careens across ages and continents. Also frustrating is a lack of footnotes that would allow one to examine the evidence that led to his bold assertions. Still, this is a significant contribution to the current debate over the birthplace of Homo sapiens and the origin of the races. Recommended for academic and large public libraries.
- Eric Hinsdale, Trinity Univ. Lib., San Antonio
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on October 8, 1998
Format: Paperback
Jonathan Kingdon is an English biologist who was born and raised in Kenya. He is an expert on East African animals, including that most fearsome of African-born predators, man. Here he examines human evolution, especially the relatively recent diversification of our species into countless ethnic groups. How did the major races originate? And what role did tool-making play in our evolution? Kingdon is inspired by a deep love of human variability, as his lovely pencil drawings of the people he has encountered around the world make clear. Everybody talks about "celebrating diversity" these days, but in practice that usually means the opposite: trying to prevent anybody from noticing the kaleidoscopic biodiversity of the human race. Kingdon dissents from this anti-knowlege, anti-human dogma.
One of his most interesting speculations is that modern black Africans (as opposed to the older, lighter-skinned aboriginal pygmies and bushmen) actually originated outside Africa. He believes that modern humans first originated in Africa, then spread throughout the Old World. These were probably brown rather than black in color, because most people don't need the extreme degree of sun resistance that black skin provides -- only mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun. Everybody else has enough sense to take a siesta when the sun is high. However, one lifestyle would require tremendous sun-resistance: beachcombing. Collecting clams, fish, and other water's edge life requires being out in the sun whenever low tide occurs. Kingdon hypothesizes that around the Indian Ocean a race of beachcombers became adapted via natural selection to the sun, then returned to conquer Africa and drive the native pygmies, bushmen, and hottentots into the margins of Africa.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Stephen A. Haines HALL OF FAME on November 11, 2004
Format: Paperback
Once characterised as the "tool-making" ape, human beings have shown an astounding propensity for technology. We unconsciously deal with technology every day, thinking we know its definition. We communicate instantly, pay debts electronically, and even post book reviews that millions can read. Jonathan Kingdon takes a deeper view of "technology". He considers it differently, suggesting "stones", "spears" and "fire" are more meaningful in our heritage than is electronics. It has, he contends, allowed our species to spread across the globe into every habitable niche. It also allows us to engage in a level of destructiveness unmatched by any other creature. The evolutionary roots of this behaviour are thoughtfully explained and rendered in this excellent study.

According to Kingdon, our use of technology helped drive our own evolution in ways Darwin never envisioned. The use of spears helped spur our exodus out of Africa in search of new food prey. Walking upright made the task increasingly easy. Shattered stones, shaped for precise use, became food processors - devices no leopard had at its disposal. Our prominent canine teeth, no longer needed, were reduced in size. Fire, that fearsome affair on savannah or woodland, was tamed to provide foods more easily and effectively digested. Our stomachs declined in size while the added proteins enhanced our brain. Fire also likely shaped our early social arrangements, bringing together the foundations of the kind of groups we're familiar with today.

Physical attributes responded to changes in habitat, diet and environment. The human face, drastically changed from its earlier primate visage.
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