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Thumbs, Toes, and Tears: And Other Traits That Make Us Human
Chip Walter.
Publisher Walker  
Format paperback
Product Dimensions 8.25 x 5.5 x 0.75 inches
ISBN 9780802716255
Pages/Publication Date 256/2008
Daedalus Item Code 20403
This item is not available.
Among the countless traits and behaviors that separate us from the rest of the animal kingdom, says science writer Chip Walter, six stand out—our big toe, opposable thumb, oddly shaped pharynx, and our abilities to laugh, kiss, and cry. Though seemingly unconnected, they are actually closely linked, each marking a fork in the evolutionary road where we went one way and the rest of the animal kingdom went another. Walter explains why our brains grew so large and complex, why we find one another sexually attractive, how toolmaking laid the mental groundwork for language, why we care about what others think, and how we became the creature that laughs and cries and falls in love.

"A science journalist tours a suite of characteristics, both anatomical and behavioral, that typify human beings.... Two of them his readers can consult directly: the big toe and the thumb. His discussion covers their functions, considered against the evolutionary advantages they might have conferred on the African savanna. In that vein, Walter presents paleoanthropology and famous fossils such as Lucy. He also directs attention to the applicability of genetics and neurobiology to unique human qualities, especially brain size. Its increase through the series of hominid species guides Walter's exploration of the ramifications of humans' large brain, such as self-awareness, language, and emotion. For those who wonder if talking and crying have evolutionary origins and survival benefits, Walter points to scientists active in researching such questions. A fluid introduction to the development of the human species."—Booklist

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