Upright by Craig Stanford
The Evolutionary Key to Becoming Human

No critic rating

Waiting for minimum critic reviews

See 2 Critic Reviews



What, in evolutionary terms, propelled us to become human? The answer lies not in our forebears’ big brains or their facility with language but in their ability to walk on two feet. That remarkable fact — standing and walking seem so mundane -- only starts the drama that Craig Stanford, codirector of the Jane Goodall Research Center, tells of our origins.
Today scientists are finding far more evidence than ever before about our beginnings. The discoveries are prompting dramatic reappraisals of common beliefs about our past. Throw out the simple idea that millions of years ago some apes moved to the African savanna, where they evolved into runty hominids who eventually metamorphosed into us. Dump that textbook image of an ape transforming into a human in five stages. Newly found remnants of two-legged “proto-humans” show that our ancestry is much richer and more convoluted. In no way can we still think of ourselves as standing on the top rung of an evolutionary ladder of excellence.
But what about our tremendous thinking powers? Our brains could have started to grow because, as our ancestors adapted to standing and walking upright, they became more successful at hunting ever larger animals. The meatier diet could have fueled the increase in brain size. And the switch to standing and walking tall may have allowed our forebears to develop language, let alone take over the entire world as their home.
Describing his - and others' - latest research and interpretations, Stanford offers a fresh, galvanizing take on what made us human.

About Craig Stanford

See more books from this Author
Craig Stanford is co-director of the Jane Goodall Primate Research Center and associate professor at the department of anthropology, University of Southern California. His previous books are: Significant Others: The Ape-Human Continuum and the Quest for Human Nature (Basic, 2001), The Hunting Apes: Meat-easting and the Origins of Human Behavior (Princeton U. Press,1999), and Chimpanzee and Red Colobus: The Ecology of Predator and Prey (Harvard U. Press, 1998).
Published December 15, 2003 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 224 pages
Genres: Science & Math. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Upright

Kirkus Reviews

See more reviews from this publication

No, the advantages that favored early modifications of anatomy and respiration for efficient walking, states Stanford, were that they enabled our ancestors to forage more widely for small game and to eventually move onto grasslands where they could find carcasses of big herd animals to divide and...

| Read Full Review of Upright: The Evolutionary Key...

Publishers Weekly

See more reviews from this publication

What distinguishes humans from their closest evolutionary ancestors? Brain size? Language? Complex social structures? Anthropologist Stanford, who is co-director of USC's Jane Goodall Primate R

Sep 29 2003 | Read Full Review of Upright: The Evolutionary Key...

Rate this book!

Add Review