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The Story of the Human Body

Evolution, Health, and Disease

Von Daniel Lieberman
19 Minuten
Audio-Version verfügbar
The Story of the Human Body: Evolution, Health, and Disease von Daniel Lieberman

The Story of the Human Body (2013) is a fascinating exploration of a story over a million years in the making: the evolution of the human body. Departing from the moment our ancestors first distinguished themselves from their hominid brethren, Daniel Lieberman traces the biological history of humans right down to our office-bound present.

  • Anyone who’s ever wondered how we got from cave- to city-dwelling
  • Fans of big-picture science
  • Anyone interested in nutrition and fitness

Daniel Lieberman is a paleoanthropologist at Harvard University, where he is chair of the department of human evolutionary biology. He is best known for his prize-winning research into the evolution of the human head and body. He has authored over a hundred articles for prestigious scholarly journals including Nature and Science. His previous books include The Evolution of the Human Head (2011).

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The Story of the Human Body

Evolution, Health, and Disease

Von Daniel Lieberman
  • Lesedauer: 19 Minuten
  • Verfügbar in Text & Audio
  • 12 Kernaussagen
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The Story of the Human Body: Evolution, Health, and Disease von Daniel Lieberman
Worum geht's

The Story of the Human Body (2013) is a fascinating exploration of a story over a million years in the making: the evolution of the human body. Departing from the moment our ancestors first distinguished themselves from their hominid brethren, Daniel Lieberman traces the biological history of humans right down to our office-bound present.

Kernaussage 1 von 12

Evolution works according to the logic of natural selection and adaptation.

Charles Darwin published On the Origin of Species in 1859. Between its covers was a theory that shook the world. Centuries of religious ideas about the history of humanity were turned on their head.

So what does this famous book say?

Let’s start with the fundamentals.

According to Darwin, the driving force behind evolution is natural selection. This simply means that the best-adapted members of a particular species are “selected” by nature. Because of that, they survive and go on to reproduce.

Natural selection can be broken down into three separate – but interlinked – components.

First, there’s variability. By that Darwin meant that each individual organism is different from other members of the same species.

Next comes genetic heritability. Every organism passes genetic traits on to its offspring.

Then there’s differential reproductive success. That’s a mouthful, right? What it means is that different organisms will produce a different number of offspring that go on to reproduce in their turn.

Natural selection is usually driven by negative selection.

That’s when an organism has “negative” heritable traits. A good example in humans is the genetic disorder hemophilia. These traits lower chances of reproductive success.

An organism with negative traits is less likely to produce offspring than competitors which don’t have them. That’s because, like humans with hemophilia, these organisms would be less likely to survive – if it weren’t for modern medicine!

Negative selection, therefore, favors the status quo. It likes to leave things as they are. Organisms without significant new heritable traits come out on top.

That’s essentially a biological process. But what about the environment?

Well, when dramatic environmental changes occur, natural selection uses a different tool – adaption.

This describes how an individual develops new heritable traits that help it adapt to new surroundings. These help both the original organism and its offspring thrive.

A good example of a large-scale environmental change which triggers this kind of evolutionary adaptation is climate change.

And that’s Darwin’s theory of evolution in a nutshell! In the following blinks, we’ll dig a bit deeper and explore how the history of the human body fits into all this.

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