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Publisher's Summary

Who are we? It's a question humankind has been asking about itself for a long time.
But when we consider ourselves not as static beings fixed in time, but as ever-changing creatures, our viewpoint of human history becomes much more captivating. The question is no longer "Who are we?" but "What have we become? And what are we becoming?
"What makes this new viewpoint possible is the evolutionary perspective offered by biological anthropology, through which we study the evolution, genetics, anatomy, and modern variation of the human species. In this series of 24 captivating lectures, an award-winning teacher and acclaimed scholar delves into the story of how, why, where, and when we became human.
You'll gain a fresh understanding of the forces that have shaped our species, as Professor King synthesizes the best that more than a century of scientific scholarship has to offer across a variety of disciplines, including primate anatomy and behavior - to understand evolution and to learn more about our common ancestor - and molecular anthropology, to gain the insights offered by fossils, ancient skeletal remains, and lifestyle information like cave art and stone tools.
©2002 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2002 The Great Courses
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Customer Reviews

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By Carolyn on 06-14-14

Excellent course in human origins

Would you listen to Biological Anthropology: An Evolutionary Perspective again? Why?

This is an excellent course. The professor shares a lot of insight into the controversies of this field and her own work with non human primates. She clearly explains the science of evolution and it's terms, like reproductive success ( never look at your children in the same way again! ) I suppose it's hard not to be dated in this field where new discoveries are continually changing our understanding of our origins. If you get this course you'll want to supplement with other material written more recently. There are some books out suitable for the non scientist. At the time of the course they did not know about Neanderthal DNA in modern humans, or the amazing homo florensis. She does anticipate the Neanderthal DNA discovery and it's implications. She is clearly an accomplished researcher and lecturer and if you are interested in this subject this course is a good use of a credit.

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9 of 9 people found this review helpful


By Jeff Harris on 12-03-13

Like Taking Intro to Biological Anthropology

I found this to be a nice summation of what you would end up, or at least should end up, getting out of an introductory class to biological evolution. It is also a nice source to refresh yourselves on some of the terms and major points of evolution in respect to biological anthropology. If you have any interest in the subject, it is worth the credit.

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3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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By Sean on 03-11-16

Good for a historical perspective - but be careful

Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

Perhaps, if I knew the friend was aware of more recent genome work. Obviously in a science book we have to expect the material to go out of date, and unlike literature - it matters if we are hearing a period piece. This is a very good course, presented very well and with an engaging style - but - when I came to the author/reader's choices (when a equally weighted evidence argument was available) from Neanderthal onwards, she had come down on the wrong 'side' (based on recent genomics). Not her fault, just a sign that this course is now quite dated because of recent leaps in discovery. It made me question her other decisions and whether I was learning an outdated view.

What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?

I did not know much about habilis and erectus before, so that was my favourite part - also some of the sociology of the people (e.g. the Leakey family) making the fossil discoveries (I'm more familiar with Paabo et al.).

Would you listen to another book narrated by Professor Barbara J. King?

Yes, I'd like to hear an update based on the last decade of discveries.

If this book were a film would you go see it?

Possibly, but it would more likely be on the Discovery Channel.

Any additional comments?

As an academic, I don't read (or write) textbooks any more in my area (genomics, bioinformatics) because they go out of date before they are published. I'm not being critical here, I'm just suggesting that a reader should be following up - it really is a good listen but treat it as a snapshot and follow up....

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3 of 3 people found this review helpful


By Mario on 02-09-15

Excellent course

Excellent course which I can recommend to anyone interested in the field. It is comprehensibly and wonderfully presented. Many thanks to the lecturer!

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1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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By Anonymous User on 08-07-17

Loved it

Easy to listen to and as a novice that is interested in the field I found it enlightening. As a male I found it added a female perspective to the hunter gatherer debate which balanced the scales between meat and carbohydrates.

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