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Children of the Ice Age: How a Global Catastrophe Allowed Humans to Evolve
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Children of the Ice Age: How a Global Catastrophe Allowed Humans to Evolve

3.75 of 5 stars 3.75  ·  rating details  ·  32 ratings  ·  6 reviews
A richly informed and inspired description of our evolution from Australopithecus to the Homo Sapiens we are today.
Paperback, 278 pages
Published August 15th 1998 by W. H. Freeman (first published 1996)
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Terence
Nov 08, 2008 Terence rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Students of evolutionary theory
If I had read Children of the Ice Age 12 years ago when it was first published it probably would have garnered four stars. In 2008, many of the topics Steven Stanley takes up are now accepted wisdom, such as the idea that hominids arose out of australopithecine populations isolated from their native forests in east Africa by drastic climatic change. Or that the hominid lineage is more a bush than a tree, with a host of branchings and not enough fossil evidence in most cases to make more than an...more
Jake
Meh. Stanley's presenting a pretty interesting idea here, but at this point he's a victim of his own success--this is no longer a giant bombshell. Additionally, Stanley's got a problem that I see in a lot of science books like this; he's got a 50-page idea and a book deal. That means we see a lot of tangents about stuff like hyena behavior in a chapter which probably should have just said "Australopithecines aren't very good at resisting predators and probably got eaten a lot. Exhibit A, all of...more
Helen
Paleoanthropology, human evolution not according to Darwin and cartoonists picturing ape, straightening and gradually becoming a human, but a bushy evolution tree, filled with casualties of environmental changes and adaptations play. Main discoveries of the human predecessors (dead branches) were reviewed one by one with explanations what went wrong and how it could be different if the situation was different.

It provides a lot of information, but this is an exceptionally boring book by style. T...more
Kris
My only serious complaint with the book is the prevalence of Stanley saying that lack of fossil evidence a million years+ ago doesn't negate his theories and then turning around and dismissing Neanderthals for having no fossil evidence of culture. You can't have it both ways, sir.

Also I could have done without the moralizing in the last 10 pages, I read the book to learn about ancient human species, not to read about the author's fears of science.

Other than that it's well written and reasonably...more
Billie Mulcahy
Interesting theory about how a group that had been fairly stable over a long period of time, the australopithecines, rather rapidly gave rise to homo and became extinct shortly afterwards. There is a lot of interesting data about climatology, and how land movements alter ocean currents and can change climate. Also, there is a good explanation of why bipedalism preceded development of a large brain, and how the isthmus of Panama may have contributed to the last glaciation.
Jamey
I eat good argumentation like the Cookie Monster eats those cookies of which he's so fond. Yumm...
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