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The Animal Connection: A New Perspective on What Makes Us Human
by Pat Shipman
Why do humans all over the world take in and nurture other animals? This behavior might seem maladaptive—after all, every mouthful given to another species is one that you cannot eat—but in this heartening new study, acclaimed anthropologist Pat Shipman reveals that our propensity to domesticate and care for other animals is in fact among our species' greatest strengths. F ...more
ebook, 336 pages
Published June 13th 2011 by W. W. Norton Company
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Based on an animal-human-connection epiphany after seeing ancient cave drawings of animals at Lascaux, paleoanthropologist Pat Shipman in The Animal Connection: A New Perspective on What Makes Us Human, delivers a thought-provoking, if currently unprovable, theory about the ancient evolutionary selection pressure for humans who could relate to animals in critical ways. She proposes that early on when hominids were prey, survival and ultimately selection depended on observational skills, an acute ...more
Pat Shipman is here to say that liking animals is a Big Deal. Essentially, that is the point of the book. But, in giving us the details on how and why it is a Big Deal, she has to provide as well a lot of back story. Like, for example, a history of paleontology and pre-historic archaeology. Some of this ground I have seen covered before by other writers, but it turns out that things are changing fast in the distant past, so it is quite worthwhile for her to cover it again. New technology (for ex ...more
Shipman's basic premise argues that what makes us human can be rooted in our connection with animals. She divides her thesis into three parts. The animal influence can be seen in three major behavior adaptations: 1) Stone Tool Technology; 2) Origin of Symbolic Language; 3) Animal Domestication. Although I found the investigation on stone tools and knapping to be fascinating, the central thesis was not well developed in this section. However, the book is chalked full of archaeological evidence.
Pat Shipman is a professor of anthropology at Penn State University. Coauthor of the award-winning The Ape in the Tree, she writes for American Scientist and lives in Moncure, North Carolina.More about Pat Shipman...