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Ian Tattersall quotes (showing 1-13 of 13)

“It is...highly probable that from the very beginning, apart from death, the only ironclad rule of human experience has been the Law of Unintended Consequences.”
Ian Tattersall, Masters of the Planet: The Search for Our Human Origins
“Hominids typically haven't so much adapted to change, as they have accommodated to it.”
Ian Tattersall, Masters of the Planet: The Search for Our Human Origins
“And we can’t take absence of evidence as evidence of absence.”
Ian Tattersall, Masters of the Planet: The Search for Our Human Origins
“Inside our skulls are fish, reptile and shrew brains, as well as the highest centers that allow us to integrate information in our unique way; and some of our newer brain components talk to each other via some very ancient structures indeed. Our brains are makeshift structures, opportunistically assembled by Nature over hundreds of millions of years, and in multiple different ecological contexts.”
Ian Tattersall
“For over a century, an evolving microcosm of Anthropology’s turbulent history has hidden behind the staid façade of the American Museum of Natural History. From an insider’s perspective, the well-known ethnologist Stan Freed engagingly introduces us to an amazing cast of explorers, eccentrics, idealists, pranksters and forbidding intellectual - an unlikely mix that played a key role in establishing the science of Anthropology as we know it today.”
Ian Tattersall
“In all of these papers, we find the key words admixture and expansion used over and over again. In other words, no matter how much Homo sapiens explores and moves about, we like to mate with whatever other people we meet up with.”
Ian Tattersall, Race?: Debunking a Scientific Myth
“Human beings, on the other hand, are symbolic creatures. Inside their heads they break down the outside world into a mass of mental symbols, then recombine those symbols to recreate that world. What they subsequently react to is often the mental construct, rather than the primary experiences themselves.”
Ian Tattersall, The World from Beginnings to 4000 BCE
“the chimpanzee can’t articulate his state of mind to us, or answer our questions about it. But then, for all of his physical differences, if he could talk he would be one of us. Nothing else he could do would place him more emphatically in the human camp, for it has been recognized since ancient times that language defines us as nothing else does.”
Ian Tattersall, Masters of the Planet: The Search for Our Human Origins
“Predators preserve an echo of the isotopic ratios of their prey, so they can be included in the calculation, too. Carbon-isotope studies have shown, for example, that some very early human relatives were quite likely eating more meat than had been suspected. Similarly, the further up the food chain you are, the greater the ratio in your bones and teeth will be between the stable nitrogen isotopes 15N and 14N. On this basis, it has been suggested that our close relatives the Neanderthals were highly carnivorous: that, indeed, they may have specialized, at least regionally, in hunting extremely large-bodied prey, such as woolly mammoths and woolly rhinos.”
Ian Tattersall, Paleontology: A Brief History of Life
“We tend to take what is familiar for what is natural”
Ian Tattersall, The World from Beginnings to 4000 BCE
“The fact that Homo sapiens is the only hominid species on the Earth today makes it easy to assume that our lonely eminence is historically a natural state of affairs—which it clearly is not.”
Ian Tattersall, The World from Beginnings to 4000 BCE
“A people is what is seen before the eyes or what history reveals; a race is what is looked for and is often assumed.” Here was one of the first explicit intimations that race might be an intellectual rather than a biological construct.”
Ian Tattersall, Race?: Debunking a Scientific Myth
“some current controversies are caused, or at least stoked, by a reluctance to abandon received ideas that may well have outlived their usefulness.”
Ian Tattersall, Masters of the Planet: The Search for Our Human Origins


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Ian Tattersall
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Masters of the Planet: The Search for Our Human Origins Masters of the Planet
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Becoming Human: Evolution and Human Uniqueness Becoming Human
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The Strange Case of the Rickety Cossack: and Other Cautionary Tales from Human Evolution The Strange Case of the Rickety Cossack
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The World from Beginnings to 4000 BCE The World from Beginnings to 4000 BCE
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