The Animal Connection: A New Perspective on What Makes Us Human

The Animal Connection: A New Perspective on What Makes Us Human

Pat Shipman

Language: English

Pages: 336

ISBN: 0393070549

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


A bold, illuminating new take on the love of animals that drove human evolution.

Why do humans all over the world take in and nurture other animals? This behavior might seem maladaptive―after all, every mouthful given to another species is one that you cannot eat―but in this heartening new study, acclaimed anthropologist Pat Shipman reveals that our propensity to domesticate and care for other animals is in fact among our species' greatest strengths. For the last 2.6 million years, Shipman explains, humans who coexisted with animals enjoyed definite adaptive and cultural advantages. To illustrate this point, Shipman gives us a tour of the milestones in human civilization-from agriculture to art and even language―and describes how we reached each stage through our unique relationship with other animals. The Animal Connection reaffirms our love of animals as something both innate and distinctly human, revealing that the process of domestication not only changed animals but had a resounding impact on us as well. 25 black-and-white illustrations

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30, 50–51, 59–61, 65, 69, 79, 83, 84–86 H. erectus, 111–17 —activity areas created in living space of, 114, 115–17, 151 —body size of, 70 —expanded range of, 65–66 —fire controlled by, 111–15, 151 —plant materials used by, 113, 115 H. habilus, 29–30, 65 —defleshed skull of, 140–41 H. sapiens sapiens, 138–55, 156–73 —African evidence of, 140–55, 156 —anatomical modernity of, 139, 141, 142 —animal contact needed by, 270–80 —animal domestication as selecting traits of, 245–46, 257–58,

leg bones of hippo, giraffe, and elephant. It seems that the hominids transferred the familiar knapping technique from stoneworking to boneworking and were also using intact bones of suitable shapes as hammerstones. Both types of bone tools were much much less common than stone tools or unused bone tools. After I presented my studies of the Olduvai bone tools at a conference, I was contacted by a brilliant South African researcher named C. K. Brain. Known to everyone as Bob, he is one of the

from one season to another requires sophisticated processing and organization of information in the brain. Then suppose that some individual develops a mechanism for sharing that digested and synthesized information with another individual though language. Suddenly, information is no longer based on a single individual’s life experience but becomes cumulative. Perhaps the second individual has witnessed differences in how aggressive lions are in defending a kill from competitors based on the

through the narrow, low-ceiling Lateral Passage to enter the Chamber of Engravings. There were hundreds, maybe thousands of engravings of animals frantically scratched into the cave walls and ceiling, chaotically tumbling one over the other, obscuring, redefining, superimposed with some special meaning I cannot tell. Nearer the ground most of the images are of aurochs—Europe’s wild cattle—then above them deer, and above them horses that cover the domed ceiling. Beyond the confusion of

to find more fossils from the same species, so you’ll have more bones to work with.” Something in the woman’s voice or her intelligent eyes suggested she meant something more universal, something bigger. I believed she was asking a very profound question indeed: What does it mean to be human? Perhaps surprisingly, the answer is not: “To be like us.” When you take the long perspective, Homo sapiens sapiens of today is a highly evolved member of a species that has been around and changing for

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