Reading the cracked brown fragments of fossils and sequences of DNA, scientists have found clues that the story of human origins has more convolutions than previously thought. The account of our shared human heritage now includes more controversial plot twists and mysteries. Was the remarkable seven-million-year-old skull found in July 2002 in Chad really one of our first forebears, or a distant dead-end cousin with precociously evolved features? Did modern humans really originate in Africa alone, as is widely held, or in multiple locales? Were Neandertals the crude, brutish cavemen of comic strips or did they have a refined, artistic culture? And of course, why didn�t our kind perish with the rest of the hominids? Were we luckier, more lingual or just more lethal than the rest?More
This special edition from Scientific American ranges far and wide across evolutionary science. Revealing and appealing in tone, Mark Moran narrates stories that begin as close to the beginning as possible: The lead story discusses scientists observations in fossil fragments and DNA sequences that provide surprising clues to human origin. Other articles include consideration of the importance of diet changes to evolution; what may be behind variations in skin color; how "birth" has changed; what occurred as neanderthals bred with anatomically modern humans; what makes humans different from extinct hominid species; and even a consideration of cannibalism.
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Excellent, informative, concise