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Mar 22 2013

“Last Ape Standing”, Chip Walter on Atheists Talk

Human beings are alone in the world. Homo sapiens are the only remainders of genus homo. Our closest relatives are chimps and bonobos, but many of our closer relatives have been lost to time.

In his book, Last Ape Standing: The Seven-Million-Year Story of How and Why We Survived, science journalist and documentarian Chip Walter explores how we came to stand alone and what happened to our very distant cousins. From the publisher’s description:

Drawing on a wide variety of scientific disciplines, Walter reveals how a rare evolutionary phenomenon led to the uniquely long childhoods that make us so resourceful and emotionally complex. He looks at why we developed a new kind of mind and how our highly social nature has shaped our moral (and immoral) behavior. And in exploring the traits that enabled our success, he plumbs the roots of our creativity and investigates why we became self-aware in ways that no other animal is. Along the way, Last Ape Standing profiles other human species who evolved with us and who have also shaped our kind in startling ways – the Neanderthals of Europe, the “Hobbits” of Indonesia, the Denisovans of Siberia, and the recently discovered Red Deer Cave people of China, who died off just as we stood at the brink of civilizations eleven thousand years ago.

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