The Monkey in the Mirror: Essays on the Science of What Makes Us Human

by Ian Tattersall

Widely regarded as one of the rare eminent scientists who is also a graceful writer, Ian Tattersall takes up some of the most controversial questions in evolutionary theory in this extraordinary set of essays. Tattersall stresses that living creatures, including humans, are not finely engineered organisms with every component perfectly adapted to their function. We are--thank goodness--jury-rigged, improvised beings, owing as much to chance as to adaptation. And that's true of all living creatures. Evolutionary theory isn't a finite set of conclusions based on overwhelming evidence: it's our evolving effort to make sense out of a handful of incomplete fossil remains.
The fundamental questions of our origins--and our evolutionary future--find new life in this extraordinary book, full of delightful stories, scientific wisdom, and fresh insight.

  • Format: Paperback
  • ISBN-13/ EAN: 9780156027069
  • ISBN-10: 0156027062
  • Pages: 240
  • Publication Date: 01/07/2003
  • Carton Quantity: 68

Also available in:

About the Book
About the Author
  • About the Book

    Nothing fascinates us more than explorations of human origins,
    and nobody tells the story better than Ian Tattersall.

    What makes us so different? How did we get this way? How do we know? And what exactly are we? These questions are what make human evolution a subject of general fascination. Ian Tattersall, one of those rare scientists who is also a graceful writer, addresses them in this delightful book.

    Writing in an informal essay style, Tattersall leads the reader around the world and into the far reaches of the past, showing what the science of human evolution is up against-from the sparsity of evidence to the pressures of religious fundamentalism. Looking with dispassion and humor at our origins, Tattersall offers a wholly new definition of what it is to be human.

    Delightful stories, scientific wisdom, fresh insight-the perfect science book.

  • About the Author
  • Excerpts
  • Reviews


    There is no more literate anthropologist writing on human evolution today than Ian Tattersall. . . . Becoming Human is at once absorbing in its details, provocative in its thoughtful speculations and delightfully informal in style."

    -San Francisco Chronicle

    Although many popular anthropological accounts of the human species have been written, few are as engaging as that of Ian Tattersall."-Natural History

    Ian Tattersall combines his unique knowledge of the human fossil record, Paleolithic archaeology, primate behavior, prehistoric art . . . to offer a convincing scenario of how we have come to hold dominion over the earth."

    -Donald Johanson, Scientific American