Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors

Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors

A Search for Who We Are

Book - 1992
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Baker & Taylor
Investigates the origins of human life on Earth, reconstructing the links in the evolutionary chain from the primordial soup to early hominid ancestors

Blackwell North Amer
Cosmos, the widely acclaimed book and television series by Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan, was about where we are in the vastness of space and time. Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors is an exploration of who we are. How were we shaped by life's adventure on this planet, by a mysterious past that we are only just beginning to piece together?
"We humans are like a newborn baby left on a doorstep," they write, "with no note explaining who it is, where it came from, what hereditary cargo of attributes and disabilities it might be carrying, or who its antecedents might be." This book is one version of the orphan's file. Sagan and Druyan take us back to the birth of the Sun and its planets and the first stirrings of life; to the origins of traits central to our current predicament: sex and violence, love and altruism, hierarchy, consciousness, language, technology, and morality.
Many thoughtful people fear that our problems have become too big for us, that we are for reasons at the heart of human nature unable to deal with them, that we have lost our way. How did we get into this mess? How can we get out? Why are we so quick to mistrust those different from ourselves, so given to unquestioning obedience to authority? What is male and female? Why are we so anxious to distance ourselves from the other animals? What obligations, if any, do we owe to them? Is there something within us that condemns us to selfishness and violence? When Sagan and Druyan first undertook this exploration it was "almost with a sense of dread. We found instead reason for hope."
This book presents important ideas with the clarity for which the authors are famous. Daring, passionate, with a breathtaking sweep. Shadows is a quest for a new perspective - one that integrates the insights of science into a vision of where we came from, who we are, and what our fate might be.

Baker
& Taylor

The best-selling authors of Cosmos investigate the origins of human life on Earth, reconstructing the links in the evolutionary chain from the primordial soup to early hominid ancestors. 100,000 first printing. $100,000 ad/promo. Tour.

Publisher: New York : Random House, c1992
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9780394534817
0394534816
Branch Call Number: 573.2 SAG
Characteristics: xvi, 505 p. ; 25 cm
Additional Contributors: Druyan, Ann 1949-

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AlexRapoport
Jan 29, 2013

7/10
Lots of interesting examples of animal behavior.
Main thesis: is there any human quality that is uniquely human?
: NO. Every quality that is deemed as purely human is identified in animals, especially primates.
Very interesting ideas on xenophobia, how there is an optimum group size for evolution. Any larger and (beneficial) changes are quickly diluted. Any smaller and cross-breeding and group-vulnerability becomes an issue.

johnami Mar 21, 2012

Many complex ideas are clearly communicated in "Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors." The main topic is evolutionary biology, from the very first instances of life on earth to the complexities of the present time. The authors provide a dramatic, moving narrative about how life came to be on our planet. They follow its path through billions of years of evolution, explain what evolution is and how it functions, and explain how all life on earth is related to the earliest lifeforms, even though they, and the earth itself, were so vastly different eons ago. A number of chapters examine our place in the primate species, especially by comparison with the behavior of chimpanzees. Clear scientific language and interesting, challenging concepts make this book a pleasure and challenge to read.

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