In this engaging, thought-provoking book, Dwight Read explores the fundamental scientific debate about how culture and social organization separate humans from our primate cousins.
What separates modern humans from our primate cousins—are we a mere blink in the march of evolution, or does human culture represent the definitive evolutionary turn? Dwight Read explores the dilemma in this engaging, thought-provoking book, taking readers through an evolutionary odyssey from our primate beginnings through the development of culture and social organization. He assesses the two major trends in this field: one that sees us as a logical culmination of primate evolution, arguing that the rudiments of culture exist in primates and even magpies, and another that views the human transition as so radical that the primate model provides no foundation for understanding human dynamics. Expertly synthesizing a wide body of evidence from the anthropological and life sciences in accessible prose, Read's book will interest a broad readership from experts to undergraduate students and the general public.
“Dwight Read has brought his strong mathematical and logical skills to bear on the fundmental issue of what distinguishes cultural phenomena, both as systems and as evolutionary phenomena. Anyone concerned with 'what makes us human' will find new and important perspectives in this work.”
—Henry Wright, University of Michigan
Dwight W. Read
is Professor of Anthropology and Statistics at UCLA. He is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and a recognized expert in quantitative archaeology. He has written over 100 articles on theory, analytic methods, kinship, computer applications, biological anthropology, and field projects from California to the Kalahari.