Top 2015 Academic Human Biology Books

These are my top 10 academic human biology books for 2015. Within human biology, I include palaeoanthropology, cultural evolution, archaeology, and primatology. Personal reviews available on request!

See the rest of this year’s book recommendations here!

Radek Kundt compares the notion of evolution in cultural evolutionary theories with neo-Darwinian evolutionary theory to determine the value of the biological concept for studying culture.

Reconstructing the paleobiology of fossil non-human primates, this book is intended as an exposition of non-human primate evolution that includes information about evolutionary theory and processes, paleobiology, paleoenvironment, how fossils are formed, how fossils illustrate evolutionary processes, the reconstruction of life from fossils, the formation of the primate fossil record, functional anatomy, and the genetic bases of anatomy. Throughout, the emphasis of the book is on the biology of fossil primates, not their taxonomic classification or systematics, or formal species descriptions. The author draws detailed pictures of the paleoenvironment of fossil primates, including contemporary animals and plants, and ancient primate communities, emphasizing our ability to reconstruct lifeways from fragmentary bones and teeth, using functional anatomy, stable isotopes from enamel and collagen, and high resolution CT-scans of the cranium. Fossil Primates will be essential reading for advanced undergraduates and graduate students in evolutionary anthropology, primatology and vertebrate paleobiology.

  1. A Primer of Human Genetics

    by Greg Gibson [Sinauer Associates is an imprint of Oxford University Press, Paperback]
    Price: $49.80 £36.64 EUR 47,24 EUR 59,19 EUR 59,19 EUR 59,19 CDN$ 65.02

A Primer of Human Genetics is an upper undergraduate textbook designed to give students the foundation they need to understand and appreciate the extraordinary shifts in human genetics that have accompanied the arrival of genomics. The book lays out the key concepts of human evolution, quantitative genetics, and personalized medicine before describing the tools that are missing from most contemporary textbooks: genome-wide association studies, whole-genome resequencing, gene expression and epigenome profiling, and integrative genomics. The final section provides an up-to-date survey of specific findings in six major domains of human disease: immunological, metabolic, cardiovascular, cancer, neuropsychological, and aging disorders. After reading this textbook, not only will students be better equipped to read current literature, they will gain a sense of the impact that the revolution in genomics has had for our understanding of the human condition, as well as of the major trends in human genetics research. Students are assumed to have a core understanding of genetics such as would be obtained in a general genetics class.

  1. Sensation & Perception

    by Jeremy M. Wolfe [Sinauer Associates is an imprint of Oxford University Press, Hardcover]
    Price: $63.99 £48.59 EUR 62,77 EUR 62,77 EUR 62,77 EUR 61,36 CDN$ 109.99

Why does the sky look blue? Why does sugar taste sweet? Can my dog hear the same things I hear? Sensation & Perception is written by experts in each of the five senses who have a passion and enthusiasm for conveying the excitement of this field to students.

In The Great Paleolithic War, David J. Meltzer tells the story of a scientific quest that set off one of the longest-running feuds in the history of American anthropology, one so vicious at times that anthropologists were deliberately frightened away from investigating potential sites. Through his book, we come to understand how and why this controversy developed and stubbornly persisted for as long as it did; and how, in the process, it revolutionized American archaeology.

This volume provides new and original empirical and theoretical research on howler monkeys; presents evolutionary and adaptive explanations for the ecological success of howler monkeys; and examines howler behavior and ecology within a comparative framework. These goals are achieved in a collection of chapters written by a distinguished group of scientists on the evolutionary history, paleontology, taxonomy, genetics, morphology, physiology, and anatomy of howlers. The volume also contains chapters on howlers as vectors of infectious diseases, ethnoprimatology, and conservation.

As medical schools struggle to fit ever more material into a fixed amount of time, students need to approach the study of anatomy through a succinct, integrative overview. Rather than setting forth an overwhelming list of facts to be memorized, this book engages readers with a fascinating account of the connections between human anatomy and a wide array of scientific disciplines, weaving in the latest advances in developmental and evolutionary biology, comparative morphology, and biological engineering. Logically organized around a few key concepts, The Scientific Bases of Human Anatomy presents them in clear, memorable prose, concise tabular material, and a host of striking photographs and original diagrams.

Now including numerous full colour figures, this updated and revised edition of Larsen’s classic text provides a comprehensive overview of the fundamentals of bioarchaeology. Reflecting the enormous advances made in the field over the past twenty years, the author examines how this discipline has matured and evolved in fundamental ways. Jargon free and richly illustrated, the text is accompanied by copious case studies and references to underscore the central role that human remains play in the interpretation of life events and conditions of past and modern cultures. From the origins and spread of infectious disease to the consequences of decisions made by humans with regard to the kinds of foods produced, and their nutritional, health and behavioral outcomes. With local, regional, and global perspectives, this up-to-date text provides a solid foundation for all those working in the field.

The Shape of Thought: How Mental Adaptations Evolve presents a road map for an evolutionary psychology of the twenty-first century. It brings together theory from biology and cognitive science to show how the brain can be composed of specialized adaptations, and yet also an organ of plasticity. Although mental adaptations have typically been seen as monolithic, hard-wired components frozen in the evolutionary past, The Shape of Thought presents a new view of mental adaptations as diverse and variable, with distinct functions and evolutionary histories that shape how they develop, what information they use, and what they do with that information.

The handbook’s first volume incorporates the enormous advances made in such areas as phylogenetic analysis, paleoecology and evolutionary theory and philosophy. Volume II integrates primate fossil data with the vast amount that is now known of the behavior and ecology of living primates in natural environments. The third volume deals with the fossil and molecular evidence for the evolution of Homo sapiens and its fossil relatives. Paleoanthropology is characterized by its many live and unresolved academic debates, which are reflected in the heterogeneity of intellectual standpoints in this handbook. This planned diversity ensures that the Springer Handbook of Paleoanthropology is a multilayered, comprehensive companion of inestimable value to students, academics, and working professionals alike.

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