Tag Archives: dna

DNA USA: A Genetic Portrait of America – Bryan Sykes


DNA USA: A Genetic Portrait of America

Bryan Sykes

Genre: Life Sciences

Price: $2.99

Publish Date: May 14, 2012

Publisher: Liveright

Seller: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.

Crisscrossing the continent, a renowned geneticist provides a groundbreaking examination of America through its DNA. The best-selling author of The Seven Daughters of Eve now turns his sights on the United States, one of the most genetically variegated countries in the world. From the blue-blooded pockets of old-WASP New England to the vast tribal lands of the Navajo, Bryan Sykes takes us on a historical genetic tour, interviewing genealogists, geneticists, anthropologists, and everyday Americans with compelling ancestral stories. His findings suggest:      • Of Americans whose ancestors came as slaves, virtually all have some European DNA.      • Racial intermixing appears least common among descendants of early New England colonists.      • There is clear evidence of Jewish genes among descendants of southwestern Spanish Catholics.      • Among white Americans, evidence of African DNA is most common in the South.      • European genes appeared among Native Americans as early as ten thousand years ago. An unprecedented look into America's genetic mosaic and how we perceive race, DNA USA challenges the very notion of what we think it means to be American.

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DNA USA: A Genetic Portrait of America – Bryan Sykes

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Genome – Jerry E. Bishop & Michael Waldholz



The Story of the Most Astonishing Scientific Adventure of Our Time—the Attempt to Map All the Genes in the Human Body

Jerry E. Bishop & Michael Waldholz

Genre: Life Sciences

Price: $3.99

Publish Date: July 29, 2014

Publisher: Open Road Media

Seller: OpenRoad Integrated Media, LLC

An “invaluable [and] highly readable” account of the quest to map our DNA, the blueprint for life—and what it means for our future ( The Philadelphia Inquirer ). Genome tells the story of the most ambitious scientific adventure of our time. By gradually isolating and identifying all the genes in the human body—the blueprint for life—scientists are closing in on the ability to effectively treat and prevent nearly every disease that strikes man, from muscular dystrophy, diabetes, and cancer to heart ailments, alcoholism, and even mental illness.   Such discoveries will change the course of human life. At the same time, they raise profound ethical questions that have tremendous implications: Can insurance companies demand genetic tests to determine who poses a health risk? Should parents be able to choose their baby’s sex or eye color? Will employers screen out potential employees who are genetically susceptible to occupational health problems?   An exciting true tale of discovery that is revolutionizing our world, Genome helps us understand our future.

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Genome – Jerry E. Bishop & Michael Waldholz

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Fatal Invention – Dorothy Roberts


Fatal Invention

How Science, Politics, and Big Business Re-create Race in the Twenty-First Century

Dorothy Roberts

Genre: Life Sciences

Price: $12.99

Publish Date: June 14, 2011

Publisher: The New Press

Seller: OpenRoad Integrated Media, LLC

An incisive, groundbreaking book that examines how a biological concept of race is a myth that promotes inequality in a supposedly “post-racial” era.   Though the Human Genome Project proved that human beings are not naturally divided by race, the emerging fields of personalized medicine, reproductive technologies, genetic genealogy, and DNA databanks are attempting to resuscitate race as a biological category written in our genes.   This groundbreaking book by legal scholar and social critic Dorothy Roberts examines how the myth of race as a biological concept—revived by purportedly cutting-edge science, race-specific drugs, genetic testing, and DNA databases—continues to undermine a just society and promote inequality in a supposedly “post-racial” era. Named one of the ten best black nonfiction books 2011 by AFRO.com, Fatal Invention offers a timely and “provocative analysis” ( Nature ) of race, science, and politics that “is consistently lucid . . . alarming but not alarmist, controversial but evidential, impassioned but rational” ( Publishers Weekly , starred review).   “Everyone concerned about social justice in America should read this powerful book.” —Anthony D. Romero, executive director, American Civil Liberties Union   “A terribly important book on how the ‘fatal invention’ has terrifying effects in the post-genomic, ‘post-racial’ era.” —Eduardo Bonilla-Silva, professor of sociology, Duke University, and author of Racism Without Racists: Color-Blind Racism and the Persistence of Racial Inequality in the United States   “ Fatal Invention is a triumph! Race has always been an ill-defined amalgam of medical and cultural bias, thinly overlaid with the trappings of contemporary scientific thought. And no one has peeled back the layers of assumption and deception as lucidly as Dorothy Roberts.” —Harriet A. Washington, author of and Deadly Monopolies: The Shocking Corporate Takeover of Life Itself  

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Fatal Invention – Dorothy Roberts

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The Math of Life and Death – Kit Yates


The Math of Life and Death

7 Mathematical Principles That Shape Our Lives

Kit Yates

Genre: Mathematics

Price: $13.99

Publish Date: January 7, 2020

Publisher: Scribner


A brilliant and entertaining mathematician illuminates seven mathematical principles that shape our lives. “Kit Yates shows how our private and social lives are suffused by mathematics. Ignorance may bring tragedy or farce. This is an exquisitely interesting book. It’s a deeply serious one too and, for those like me who have little math, it’s delightfully readable.” —Ian McEwan, author of Atonement “Kit Yates is a natural storyteller. Through fascinating stories and examples, he shows how maths is the beating heart of so much of modern life. An exciting new voice in the world of science communication.” —Marcus du Sautoy, author of The Music of the Primes From birthdays to birth rates to how we perceive the passing of time, mathematical patterns shape our lives. But for those of us who left math behind in high school, the numbers and figures hurled at us as we go about our days can sometimes leave us scratching our heads and feeling as if we’re fumbling through a mathematical minefield. In this eye-opening and extraordinarily accessible book, mathemati­cian Kit Yates illuminates hidden principles that can help us understand and navigate the chaotic and often opaque surfaces of our world. In The Math of Life and Death , Yates takes us on a fascinating tour of everyday situations and grand-scale applications of mathematical concepts, including exponential growth and decay, optimization, statistics and probability, and number systems. Along the way he reveals the mathematical undersides of controversies over DNA testing, medical screening results, and historical events such as the Chernobyl disaster and the Amanda Knox trial. Readers will finish this book with an enlightened perspective on the news, the law, medicine, and history, and will be better equipped to make personal decisions and solve problems with math in mind, whether it’s choosing the shortest checkout line at the grocery store or halting the spread of a deadly disease.

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The Math of Life and Death – Kit Yates

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Gene editing could help save the planet — if scientists can avoid the typos

For the last few years, writers and scientists have marveled at the potential for gene editing to allow farmers to grow more food on less land and allow more of the earth to grow carbon-sucking forests and savannas.

The main advantage of gene editing is precision. It’s right there in the name: Instead of dealing with the randomness of breeding, or the rough power-tool work implied by the term “genetic engineering,” the “editing” suggests that scientists could now change the letters of genetic code with the same ease that a writer corrects typos.

But in late July, FDA scientists found a chunk of bacterial DNA in gene-edited calves, prompting people to wonder if this precision tool wasn’t as precise as advertised. That hopeful vision of a gene-edited future — verdant with pesticide-free, carbon-sequestering crops — flickered.

On Monday, the scientists studying these gene-edited cattle published a paper in the journal Nature Biotechnology explaining what happened. Essentially, this new paper tells us that gene editing precisely tweaked specific letters of DNA, exactly what it was supposed to do. But scientists also used older, cruder tools, and one of those caused the genetic typo. Even so, the end result might be that gene-editing slides into the muck of controversy over GMOs.

To be clear, the cows at the center of this study have nothing to do with creating more productive, pest-resistant foods. The scientists had edited their genes in stem cells, which grew into calves without horns. Farmers usually remove the horns to prevent cattle from injuring each other — goring is a real danger.

When I visited the University of California Davis in 2015, I saw a pair of these black-and-white bull calves standing and chewing in an outdoor pen, like ordinary but adorable bovines. Unlike other calves, however, they wouldn’t have to suffer through a painful dehorning operation, in which a veterinarian burns out their horn buds.

Some cows are naturally hornless: Angus and Hereford breeds, for instance. But those are beef cattle. For dairy you want Holsteins or Jerseys, and these champion milk producers are more carefully bred than the winners of the Westminster dog show. If you started crossing muscled Herefords with black-and-white Holsteins, it would take decades of breeding to move the hornless trait into the dairy line then weed out all the beefy traits.

What if you just plucked a single gene and moved it into dairy cows? With gene editing, you could tweak dairy cows without messing up their finely tuned milk-producing DNA so that they would no longer have to endure dehorning. The Minnesota-based company Recombinetics tried this using a technique called TALENS (you might have heard of CRISPR — this is just a different version of the same thing).

To run with the editing metaphor, Recombinetics basically took out the DNA that laid out instructions for “HORN” and replaced it with 202 letters of DNA that said “HORNLESS.” But first, they attached it to a bacterial plasmid — think of it as a sub-cellular copy machine — that would reproduce this strand over and over again (HORNLESS, HORNLESS, HORNLESS!). Then they injected all those copies into a cow cell — that gave one of those copies a much better chance of bumping into the one spot in the DNA that read HORN. This is where things went wrong. Instead of just replacing HORN with HORNLESS, the plasmid also folded into the cell’s DNA so that it read something like HORNLESS-COPYMACHINE-HORNLESS. That genetic information went into an egg, which went into a cow’s uterus, and, in 2015, grew into a hornless calf. No one noticed until years later.

The calves I saw at Davis were there to be studied by Alison Van Eenennaam, an animal geneticist. Funded by a U.S. Department of Agriculture program to assess the risks of biotech, her team first verified that the hornless trait was being passed down through generations of cattle. “Basically, we found that Mendel knew his shit,” said Van Eenennaam (that’s Gregor Mendel, the scientist from the 1800s who described how traits are inherited).

With this new paper, Van Eenennaam’s team showed that the bacterial plasmid had also been passed down to some of the calves, again following the rules of genetics 101. It doesn’t seem to be causing a problem — it’s fairly normal for DNA from germs and viruses to work its way into genomes (the human genome is about 8 percent virus DNA), and critters can usually just roll with it. But because these cattle had DNA from a bacteria, it meant they were genetically modified organisms, or GMOs in the eyes of government regulators. That, in turn, meant they would have to undergo years of testing. A giant corporation like Bayer could afford that, but not a small startup like Recombinetics. The FDA is now treating gene-edited animals like new drugs, requiring multiple rounds of safety testing, which effectively puts an end to the quest to make hornless dairy cows. Longtime opponents of biotechnology think that would be a good thing. Friends of the Earth recently released a report with Janet Cotter, who runs the consultancy Logos Environmental, condemning gene edited animals.

“The scientific evidence shows that gene editing, particularly in animals, is far from precise.” Cotter said in a statement. “Instead, it can produce unintended changes to genetic material and disrupt genetic processes. Such effects could have far reaching consequences for food safety, so these applications will require a rigorous assessment if they are to be used in agriculture.”

It would be easy enough to screen out plasmids before putting gene-edited eggs into a cow’s womb. That’s a routine procedure, said Van Eenennaam. But she worries that won’t quell fears that gene editing is sloppier than expected. Treating gene-edited animals like drugs is not proportionate with the risk, Van Eenennaam said, and would prevent breakthroughs that might help us meet the challenge of climate change, whether it’s cows that don’t belch methane, or corals that can survive heat., Van Eenennaam said.

“The debate has pretty much blocked the technology in animals through my whole career. I was hoping gene-editing would be different,” she said. “I have students who are excited about gene editing for disease-resistance — but now I feel like it’s Ground Hog Day. Here we go again.”

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Gene editing could help save the planet — if scientists can avoid the typos

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Evolution – Edward J. Larson



The Remarkable History of a Scientific Theory

Edward J. Larson

Genre: Life Sciences

Price: $1.99

Publish Date: August 8, 2006

Publisher: Random House Publishing Group

Seller: Penguin Random House LLC

“I often said before starting, that I had no doubt I should frequently repent of the whole undertaking.” So wrote Charles Darwin aboard The Beagle , bound for the Galapagos Islands and what would arguably become the greatest and most controversial discovery in scientific history. But the theory of evolution did not spring full-blown from the head of Darwin. Since the dawn of humanity, priests, philosophers, and scientists have debated the origin and development of life on earth, and with modern science, that debate shifted into high gear. In this lively, deeply erudite work, Pulitzer Prize–winning science historian Edward J. Larson takes us on a guided tour of Darwin’s “dangerous idea,” from its theoretical antecedents in the early nineteenth century to the brilliant breakthroughs of Darwin and Wallace, to Watson and Crick’s stunning discovery of the DNA double helix, and to the triumphant neo-Darwinian synthesis and rising sociobiology today. Along the way, Larson expertly places the scientific upheaval of evolution in cultural perspective: the social and philosophical earthquake that was the French Revolution; the development, in England, of a laissez-faire capitalism in tune with a Darwinian ethos of “survival of the fittest”; the emergence of Social Darwinism and the dark science of eugenics against a backdrop of industrial revolution; the American Christian backlash against evolutionism that culminated in the famous Scopes trial; and on to today’s world, where religious fundamentalists litigate for the right to teach “creation science” alongside evolution in U.S. public schools, even as the theory itself continues to evolve in new and surprising directions. Throughout, Larson trains his spotlight on the lives and careers of the scientists, explorers, and eccentrics whose collaborations and competitions have driven the theory of evolution forward. Here are portraits of Cuvier, Lamarck, Darwin, Wallace, Haeckel, Galton, Huxley, Mendel, Morgan, Fisher, Dobzhansky, Watson and Crick, W. D. Hamilton, E. O. Wilson, and many others. Celebrated as one of mankind’s crowning scientific achievements and reviled as a threat to our deepest values, the theory of evolution has utterly transformed our view of life, religion, origins, and the theory itself, and remains controversial, especially in the United States (where 90% of adults do not subscribe to the full Darwinian vision). Replete with fresh material and new insights, Evolution will educate and inform while taking readers on a fascinating journey of discovery.

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Evolution – Edward J. Larson

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What’s the catch? With seafood, it’s often a mystery.

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That last time you ordered the sea bass, odds are you got some other denizen of the deep — maybe an endangered species. In a report out Thursday, the advocacy organization Oceana suggests that fish fraud is rampant. That, in tandem with climate change, poses a dangerous threat to the world’s food supply

Over the course of a monthslong investigation, Oceana took 449 samples of seafood from restaurants, grocery stores, and markets, then sequenced their DNA to see what species they really were. One in every five fish tested had been mislabeled. More than half of the fish called “sea bass” were something else, often Nile perch, or giant tilapia. A third of the fish on the menu labelled “Alaskan halibut” — a thriving fishery — was Atlantic halibut, a species struggling to recover from overfishing.

“To guarantee that we still have fish in the future, we need to make sure that the seafood we are eating is properly labeled,” said Kimberly Warner, senior scientist at Oceana.” “Without that transparency we can’t tell if it is legally attained, implicated in human rights abuses, or safe,”

It’s one of two major threats to the world’s seafood supply, a vital source of nutrition for half the world’s population. Thanks to climate change warming the oceans, the amount of fish people could sustainably catch is now 1.4 million metric tons less than it was in 1930, according to a recent study. The mislabeling monkeyshines make the problem worse, thwarting efforts to police overfishing, and protect vulnerable fish stocks.

In an effort to clamp down on fraudulent labelling last year, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration started monitoring imports of 13 species of fish, including bluefin tuna, abalone, and dolphinfish. But the Oceana testing shows that fraud still abounds where the government isn’t looking.

The flimflam schemes allows miscreants to hide rule breaking and environmental damage, and it also hurts regular eaters, Warner said.

“Diners in the Great Lakes region are thinking they are getting a freshly caught local species,” she said, “and instead they are getting something that’s been shipped halfway around the world.”

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What’s the catch? With seafood, it’s often a mystery.

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Genome – Matt Ridley



The Autobiography of a Species in 23 Chapters

Matt Ridley

Genre: Life Sciences

Price: $1.99

Publish Date: March 26, 2013

Publisher: Harper Perennial


The genome's been mapped. But what does it mean? Arguably the most significant scientific discovery of the new century, the mapping of the twenty-three pairs of chromosomes that make up the human genome raises almost as many questions as it answers. Questions that will profoundly impact the way we think about disease, about longevity, and about free will. Questions that will affect the rest of your life. Genome offers extraordinary insight into the ramifications of this incredible breakthrough. By picking one newly discovered gene from each pair of chromosomes and telling its story, Matt Ridley recounts the history of our species and its ancestors from the dawn of life to the brink of future medicine. From Huntington's disease to cancer, from the applications of gene therapy to the horrors of eugenics, Matt Ridley probes the scientific, philosophical, and moral issues arising as a result of the mapping of the genome. It will help you understand what this scientific milestone means for you, for your children, and for humankind.

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Genome – Matt Ridley

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How Can You Protect Yourself from Electromagnetic Radiation?

Research has shown that electromagnetic radiation can pose various health risks, such as an increased risk of cancer, miscarriage?and depression. And we?re surrounded by electromagnetic radiation on a daily basis.

Electromagnetic radiation refers to energy produced from a source, such as light from the sun, microwaves from an oven, or your cell phone?s signal.

You?re likely exposed to some form of electromagnetic radiation almost constantly, but you can still do a lot to protect yourself from any potentially negative effects. Let?s take a closer look at this issue.


Electromagnetic radiation is a type of energy that travels and spreads out as it moves. It?s composed of a stream of particles called photons that move in wave-like patterns at the speed of light. Each photon has a certain amount of energy, but no physical mass.

The photons of radio waves are fairly low-energy and move in long wavelengths, which puts them at the low end of the electromagnetic spectrum. As you move up the spectrum, microwaves have more energy, then visible and ultraviolet light from the sun, and x-rays and gamma rays have the highest amounts of energy.

Electromagnetic radiation is classified into two different types:

Ionizing radiation ? includes mid- to high-frequency types of radiation, such as ultraviolet radiation, x-rays and gamma rays. Ionizing radiation has enough energy that it can remove electrons from atoms and molecules of air, water and living tissue as it passes through them.
Non-ionizing radiation ? includes low- to mid-frequency types of radiation, such as radio waves, microwaves and cell phone signals. These are not able to remove electrons from atoms or molecules, but they are strong enough to heat up substances and are proven to have a biological effect on human cells.


It?s well-established that prolonged exposure to ionizing electromagnetic radiation can cause cellular changes that can lead to health risks such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, radiation sickness and genetic damage.

Because non-ionizing radiation is weaker than ionizing radiation, its effects tend to take place over longer periods. But it can still be just as damaging after many years of exposure.

A large volume of research over the past three decades has linked non-ionizing radiation to an increased risk of developing certain cancers, Alzheimer?s disease, immune system dysfunction and free radical damage to DNA.

Even the World Health Organization has stated that technology that emits low-level electromagnetic fields (EMFs), such as cell phones, ?is too recent to rule out possible long-term effects?.

In their publication Establishing a Dialogue on Risks from Electromagnetic Fields, the WHO goes on to say that, ?Given the widespread use of technology, the degree of scientific uncertainly, and the levels of public apprehension, rigorous scientific studies [of EMFs] and clear communication with the public are needed.?


1. Keep Your Distance

Electromagnetic radiation is strongest at its source. For example, cell phones, microwave ovens, baby monitors, smart meters and Wi-Fi modems all actively create and emit electromagnetic radiation. So, the farther away you are from these active sources, the less radiation you?ll receive.

Try some of these suggestions for keeping your electronic devices at a distance:

Hold your cell phone or cordless phone away from your head when talking. Most cell phone manuals state that you should keep your phone at least 15 millimeters (5/8 inch) away from your head when using it. Also, use speakerphone or text when you can.
Avoid putting your laptop on your lap. Try to use a secondary keyboard and mouse to give yourself some distance.
Keep your modem away from your living spaces. When possible, have your modem installed in the least-travelled corner of your home.
Stand back from your microwave when it?s operating. Some microwaves can leak a small amount of radiation when they?re on, so it?s best to give them some space until your food is done.

2. Get Wired

Wireless signals provide a constant source of electromagnetic radiation, so try using wired devices as much as possible. Yes, using wires is annoying. But if you?re on your devices for many hours a day, it will significantly cut down your exposure to electromagnetic fields.

Try using a wired headset when talking on your cell phone, using an ethernet cable for your computer, or wired headphones for your MP3 player.

3. Watch Your Time

More time spent around electronic equipment will mean more exposure to electromagnetic radiation. Working around electronics is hard to avoid, but consider some unplugged activities in your free time.

Instead of watching a video on your computer or television, try going for a walk or getting together with friends instead. Chances are you?ll have more fun than watching that video anyway.

4. Unplug

Even when you?re not using many electronic devices, they?re still producing electromagnetic radiation. Wi-Fi modems emit signals continuously, and even computers will still have a weak electromagnetic field around them when they?re in ?sleep? mode.

Get in the habit of turning your modem off at night when possible. Also try having as many of your electronic devices on power bars that you can switch off when they?re not in use. This will also help you conserve energy and save money on your power bills.

5. Remove Electronics from Your Bedroom

You spend a lot of time in your bedroom, so keeping it as clear as possible from electronics will greatly reduce your exposure. Electromagnetic radiation is also shown to disrupt melatonin and sleep, which makes it especially important to keep it out of your sleeping space.

Remove any unnecessary wireless devices, unplug any screens for the night and above all, don?t take your cell phone to bed with you.

6. Stay Healthy

It?s known that electromagnetic radiation causes oxidative stress on your cells and increases free radical concentrations in your body. Under normal circumstances, your body should be able to repair this damage.

But, if your health is compromised, your body won?t be able to deal with the effects of prolonged electromagnetic radiation exposure. Over time, this oxidative stress can take a toll on your health.

Maintaining your health and eating a diet rich in antioxidants and nutrients will support your body and naturally protect against any potential damage from electromagnetic radiation. Try including these antioxidant rich foods in your diet or spending more time in nature to naturally boost your health.

Related on Care2

What Is Dirty Electricity and Is It Harmful?
Study Links Cell Phones to Brain Cancer
What Is Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity?

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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How Can You Protect Yourself from Electromagnetic Radiation?

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Lucy’s Legacy – Dr. Donald Johanson & Kate Wong


Lucy’s Legacy

The Quest for Human Origins

Dr. Donald Johanson & Kate Wong

Genre: Science & Nature

Price: $1.99

Publish Date: March 3, 2009

Publisher: Crown/Archetype

Seller: Penguin Random House LLC

“Lucy is a 3.2-million-year-old skeleton who has become the spokeswoman for human evolution. She is perhaps the best known and most studied fossil hominid of the twentieth century, the benchmark by which other discoveries of human ancestors are judged.” – From Lucy’s Legacy In his New York Times bestseller, Lucy: The Beginnings of Humankind, renowned paleoanthropologist Donald Johanson told the incredible story of his discovery of a partial female skeleton that revolutionized the study of human origins. Lucy literally changed our understanding of our world and who we come from. Since that dramatic find in 1974, there has been heated debate and–most important–more groundbreaking discoveries that have further transformed our understanding of when and how humans evolved. In Lucy’s Legacy , Johanson takes readers on a fascinating tour of the last three decades of study–the most exciting period of paleoanthropologic investigation thus far. In that time, Johanson and his colleagues have uncovered a total of 363 specimens of Australopithecus afarensis (Lucy’s species, a transitional creature between apes and humans), spanning 400,000 years. As a result, we now have a unique fossil record of one branch of our family tree–that family being humanity–a tree that is believed to date back a staggering 7 million years. Focusing on dramatic new fossil finds and breakthrough advances in DNA research, Johanson provides the latest answers that post-Lucy paleoanthropologists are finding to questions such as: How did Homo sapiens evolve? When and where did our species originate? What separates hominids from the apes? What was the nature of Neandertal and modern human encounters? What mysteries about human evolution remain to be solved? Donald Johanson is a passionate guide on an extraordinary journey from the ancient landscape of Hadar, Ethiopia–where Lucy was unearthed and where many other exciting fossil discoveries have since been made–to a seaside cave in South Africa that once sheltered early members of our own species, and many other significant sites. Thirty-five years after Lucy, Johanson continues to enthusiastically probe the origins of our species and what it means to be human. From the Hardcover edition.

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Lucy’s Legacy – Dr. Donald Johanson & Kate Wong

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