The 10,000 Year Explosion
Gregory Cochran and Henry Harpending
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Buy *The 10,000 Year Explosion: How Civilization Accelerated Human Evolution* by Gregory Cochran and Henry Harpending online

The 10,000 Year Explosion: How Civilization Accelerated Human Evolution
Gregory Cochran and Henry Harpending
Basic Books
304 pages
January 2009
rated 5 of 5 possible stars

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For so long, scientists have been convinced the human evolution came to a halt sometime during pre-history. This stunning new book presents research into the cutting-edge field of evolutionary genomics that shows that may not be the case - at all. The work of Gregory Cochran and Henry Harpending documented in The 10,000 Year Explosion points to a much different outcome: that human evolution is on a fast track, indeed even an express train, toward evolution, and that cultural evolution is occurring in tandem with biological evolution in a dance that is creating an accelerated rate of progress.

The authors present their case that the explosion of human evolution continues and has not stopped, backing up their research of evidence that “behavioral modernity is contingent upon innovation and change.” As culture and technology changes, so to does our own physical evolution, in a parallel race that indicate biological change has been a major force in driving history.

Cochran, a physicist, and Harpending, a leading anthropologist with the University of Utah who played a key role in developing the Out of Africa theory of human origin, contribute examples of these hallmarks of ongoing evolution in such things as lactose intolerance, blue eyes, and diseases specific to the Ashkenazi Jews, also focusing on the Ashkenazi’s superior intelligence and natural selection processes that might explain why this particular race has evolved in the way they have. It all proves to be exciting cutting-edge material that is also thrilling to read, even for the layperson with little understanding of genomics.

The rapid evolution of the last 10,000 years may be a precursor for a new leap in evolution as well, as our culture and technology brings us to the edge of the impossible. The 10,000 Year Explosion may be about the near past, but what it says for our future is thrilling and explosive itself.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at © Marie D. Jones, 2009

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