Last Ape Standing: The Seven-Million-Year Story of How and Why We Survived

Chip Walter, Author, Lawrence C Mayer, Author
Chip Walter. Walker, $26 (240p) ISBN 978-0-8027-1756-6
Reviewed on: 11/26/2012
Release date: 01/29/2013
Open Ebook - 978-0-8027-7891-8
Paperback - 220 pages - 978-1-62040-521-5
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With 27 species of humans having evolved over seven million years, Walter (Thumbs, Toes, and Tears) has quite a tale to tell. Unsurprisingly, this abbreviated work gives short shrift to much of that story. Like many others, Walter argues that neotony, "the retention of juvenile features in the adult animal," is most responsible for differences between humans and other hominids. His primary focus gets lost in lengthy digressions on tangential ideas from evolutionary psychology, like the development of morality and the aesthetics of beauty. He also loses credibility when he lapses into arguments grounded in the largely discredited theory of group selection. Similarly, his supposition that "small pockets" of Homo erectus descendants may have survived to the present day (well past their accepted expiration date 250,000 years ago) and that they might be responsible for yeti or Big Foot sightings removes his work from the arena of sound science. In the end, Walter posits that the next evolutionary step might be Cyber sapiens: immortal superhuman hybrids of humans and machines. Though intriguing, Walter's evolutionary treatise is too fantastic to be taken seriously. 10 b&w images, 8-page b&w insert. Agent: Peter Sawyer, the Fifi Oscard Agency. (Jan.)
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