Neanderthal Man

Neanderthal Man

In Search of Lost Genomes

Book - 2014
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"What can we learn from the genes of our closest evolutionary relatives? Neanderthal Man tells the story of geneticist Svante Paabo's mission to answer that question, beginning with the study of DNA in Egyptian mummies in the early 1980s and culminating in his sequencing of the Neanderthal genome in 2009. From Paabo, we learn how Neanderthal genes offer a unique window into the lives of our hominin relatives and may hold the key to unlocking the mystery of why humans survived while Neanderthals went extinct. Drawing on genetic and fossil clues, Paabo explores what is known about the origin of modern humans and their relationship to the Neanderthals and describes the fierce debate surrounding the nature of the two species' interactions. A riveting story about a visionary researcher and the nature of scientific inquiry, Neanderthal Man offers rich insight into the fundamental question of who we are"--
Publisher: New York :, Basic Books,, [2014]
ISBN: 9780465020836
0465020836
Branch Call Number: 569.986 Paabo 02/2014
Characteristics: ix, 275 pages :,illustrations ;,25 cm

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d
Dreessen
Jan 25, 2019

This is the story of how a Swedish geneticist succeeded in so-to-speak fulfilling a childhood dream by reconstructing DNA from ancient creatures, and, leading a consortium of 50+ scientists, concluded (published in 2010) that Eurasians are 1-4% Neanderthal.

It is a fascinating story, yet also frustrating. It demonstrates the incredible tedium that comes with scientific endeavour; the intensity of the effort. It shows that reading genetics is statistics first and foremost; there are no definitive statements in this book. It reveals how the Max Planck funding system works (the Society created for him in 1997 the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, where he is now the director of the Department of Genetics). It gives insight in scientific career development and the importance of personal connection. It reveals his bisexuality. It deals with how to manage egos. It is down-to-earth and straightforward.

There's a fascinating side story of a relative of the Neanderthals, discovered in the Denisova cave in Siberia: The first instance of a gerontological conclusion based on genetic analysis, in this case of a tiny bone fragment in a girl's pinkie (also 2010).

Yet the book is also frustrating because he explains, yet does not explain the fundamentals of genetics. Also notes that we know next to nothing about how it really works.

Most certainly, the current vogue of getting your genetics analyzed, is the latest snake oil.

g
green_cat_3454
Mar 22, 2018

Mindless evolutionist propaganda.

c
culufin
Nov 25, 2015

Amazing book! Very easy to read, although contains some special vocabulary. But we all read books to extent the borders of our knowledge, so I don't see it as a problem.
Again, Paabo is very sincere in every aspect, including even private ones, which makes this book so special.

s
stewstealth
Aug 31, 2015

This book looks at the author's team of scientists who over many years progressively mapped the nuclear DNA of the Neanderthals. This showed that Europeans and Asians had DNA attributes that showed intermixing with modern Humans and Neanderthals. Additionally this research showed that the Out of Africa approach to Human evolution was not accurate. Part of this book is about the painstaking processes that the research team was forced into to accurately prove that the DNA was not contaminated. Definitely worth reading if you are interested.

p
petehoover98118
Oct 10, 2014

For anyone interested in human evolution, this is a must-read.

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