The Story of the Human Body: Evolution, Health, and Disease

Front Cover
Vintage Books, 2014 - Science - 460 pages
In this book the author, a Harvard evolutionary biologist presents an account of how the human body has evolved over millions of years, examining how an increasing disparity between the needs of Stone Age bodies and the realities of the modern world are fueling a paradox of greater longevity and chronic disease. It illuminates the major transformations that contributed key adaptations to the body: the rise of bipedalism; the shift to a non-fruit-based diet; the advent of hunting and gathering, leading to our superlative endurance athleticism; the development of a very large brain; and the incipience of cultural proficiencies. The author also elucidates how cultural evolution differs from biological evolution, and how our bodies were further transformed during the Agricultural and Industrial Revolutions. While these ongoing changes have brought about many benefits, they have also created conditions to which our bodies are not entirely adapted, the author argues, resulting in the growing incidence of obesity and new but avoidable diseases, such as type 2 diabetes. The author proposes that many of these chronic illnesses persist and in some cases are intensifying because of 'dysevolution,' a pernicious dynamic whereby only the symptoms rather than the causes of these maladies are treated. And finally, he advocates the use of evolutionary information to help nudge, push, and sometimes even compel us to create a more salubrious environment. -- From publisher's web site.
 

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - dickmanikowski - LibraryThing

"Like it or not, we are slightly fat, furless, bipedal primates who crave sugar, fat, salt, and starch, but we are still adapted to eating a diverse diet of fibrous fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - madcurrin - LibraryThing

You could chop this book in half and you'd have two quite different volumes, each totally interesting in its own right. The first part is a comprehensive journey through human evolution. It explores ... Read full review

Contents

Introduction
3
Upstanding Apes
25
Much Depends on Dinner
48
The First HunterGatherers
67
Energy in the Ice Age
94
A Very Cultured Species
126
Progress Mismatch and Dysevolution
157
Paradise Lost?
180
Modern Times Modern Bodies
209
1o The Vicious Circle of Too Much
251
Disuse
293
The Hidden Dangers of Novelty and Comfort
318
Survival of the Fitter
347
Acknowledgments
369
Index
433
Copyright

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About the author (2014)

Daniel E. Lieberman is professor of human evolutionary biology and the Edwin M. Lerner II Professor of Biological Sciences at Harvard. He has written more than one hundred articles, many appearing in the journals Nature and Science. Lieberman is especially well known for his research on the evolution of the human head and the evolution of running, including barefoot running (earning him the nickname the Barefoot Professor). His research and discoveries have been highlighted widely in newspapers, magazines, books, news programs, and documentaries.

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