Neanderthal Man

Neanderthal Man

In Search of Lost Genomes

Book - 2015 | First paperback edition
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ONE OF AMAZON'S TOP 100 BOOKS OF 2014 Neanderthal Man tells the story of geneticist Svante Pääbo's mission to answer this question: what can we learn from the genomes of our closest evolutionary relatives? Beginning with the study of DNA in Egyptian mummies in the early 1980s and culminating in the sequencing of the Neanderthal genome in 2010, Neanderthal Man describes the events, intrigues, failures, and triumphs of these scientifically rich years through the lens of the pioneer and inventor of the field of ancient DNA. We learn that Neanderthal genes offer a unique window into the lives of our hominid relatives and may hold the key to unlocking the mystery of why humans survived while Neanderthals went extinct. Pääbo's findings have not only redrawn our family tree, but recast the fundamentals of human history,the biological beginnings of fully modern Homo sapiens , the direct ancestors of all people alive today.
Publisher: New York : Basic Books, a member of the Perseus Books Group, 2015
Edition: First paperback edition
ISBN: 9780465054954
Branch Call Number: 569.9 Paab
Characteristics: xi, 275 pages : illustrations ; 21 cm


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Jan 25, 2019

This is the story of how a Swedish geneticist succeeded in so-to-speak fulfilling a childhood dream by reconstructing DNA from ancient creatures, and, leading a consortium of 50+ scientists, concluded (published in 2010) that Eurasians are 1-4% Neanderthal.

It is a fascinating story, yet also frustrating. It demonstrates the incredible tedium that comes with scientific endeavour; the intensity of the effort. It shows that reading genetics is statistics first and foremost; there are no definitive statements in this book. It reveals how the Max Planck funding system works (the Society created for him in 1997 the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, where he is now the director of the Department of Genetics). It gives insight in scientific career development and the importance of personal connection. It reveals his bisexuality. It deals with how to manage egos. It is down-to-earth and straightforward.

There's a fascinating side story of a relative of the Neanderthals, discovered in the Denisova cave in Siberia: The first instance of a gerontological conclusion based on genetic analysis, in this case of a tiny bone fragment in a girl's pinkie (also 2010).

Yet the book is also frustrating because he explains, yet does not explain the fundamentals of genetics. Also notes that we know next to nothing about how it really works.

Most certainly, the current vogue of getting your genetics analyzed, is the latest snake oil.

Mar 22, 2018

Mindless evolutionist propaganda.

Nov 25, 2015

Amazing book! Very easy to read, although contains some special vocabulary. But we all read books to extent the borders of our knowledge, so I don't see it as a problem.
Again, Paabo is very sincere in every aspect, including even private ones, which makes this book so special.

Aug 31, 2015

This book looks at the author's team of scientists who over many years progressively mapped the nuclear DNA of the Neanderthals. This showed that Europeans and Asians had DNA attributes that showed intermixing with modern Humans and Neanderthals. Additionally this research showed that the Out of Africa approach to Human evolution was not accurate. Part of this book is about the painstaking processes that the research team was forced into to accurately prove that the DNA was not contaminated. Definitely worth reading if you are interested.

Oct 10, 2014

For anyone interested in human evolution, this is a must-read.


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