Book 247: The Origin of Our Species by Chris Stringer

PIMG_2677The Origin of Our Species by Chris Stringer

Finished reading on December 17th, 2017

Rating: 10/10

In “The Origin of Our Species” we get an idea of what is known about the evolution of our species, how the ideas about our ancestors have changed and how we even happen to know as much as we do. Stringer goes into quite a lot of detail in introducing the methods for dating fossils, the most important fossil finds and how they relate to us and what kind of story they tell and what we have so far found out by looking at DNA etc.

I found the book fascinating. Although I’ve come across Olduvai Gorge and Lucy etc in a few other books, I feel like this one gave me a better understanding of the timeline and also the timescale without bringing out date by date what happened.

Stringer deals a lot with the topic of where did Homo Sapiens evolve and when did they leave. As far as I remember, I learnt in school that it was Africa, so it was interesting to read about how at around the time when I was born there were still great debates about it. Just goes to show how scientific ideas get adopted in time.

One of the ideas I liked the most that I read about in this book was the cooperative eye hypothesis, which proposes that the reason why the outside layer of our eyeballs – the sclera – is white, has to do with it enabling easier communication and enabling following someone’s gaze and using it for signaling.

The other great topic that runs through the book is how come Homo Sapiens Sapiens is the only human species extant and what were the differences between us and Homo Neanderthalensis. There is the common supposition that our species might have been better adapted to the conditions, but in a lot of cases it’s just not true.

I think I liked this book so much just because it left me in awe at just the fact that at some point human population was quite scarce, and just tens of thousands of years later one animal species has managed to actually leave the planet, while ofcourse statistically the species could have gone extinct as the Neanderthals did.

Here’s an interesting video where Stringer talks about the Neanderthal’s: