Down from the Trees: Man's Amazing Transition from Tree-Dwelling Ape Ancestors covers the evolution of man from tree-dwelling ape to Homo sapiens as he is today. Using easy-to-read language, the author takes complex, jargon-filled material and extracts the essence of the topic and coveys it in a clear and engaging manner. He approaches the subject of human evolution from three different disciplines: fossil evidence and its interpretation, evolutionary theory and its applicability, and genetic evidence and its ability to unlock prehistoric information. The third discipline has advanced unbelievably in the last few years, and this book includes the most up-to-date research.
There is nothing more interesting to humans than the story of their origins. The evolutionary process of a tree-dwelling ape becoming a walking, talking man who has developed the technology to walk on the moon, transplant hearts, or modify living things is no trivial story. This book provides a fascinating and comprehensive view of what science has learned of human evolution.
Part 1: Fossils Tell a Story 1. Stratigraphy 2. Time Divisions 3. The K/T Extinctions and the Mammalian Species Radiation 4. Primates and Apes Part 2: Bipedal Species 5. Fossils and Human Evolution 6. The Paleo-Anthropologists 7. Overview of Our Distant Ancestors 8. Ardi 9. Lucy and Australopithecus afarensis 10. Australopithecus sediba 11. Homo naledi 12. Homo erectus 13. Neanderthal Man 14. Homo sapiens Part 3: How Evolution Works 15. Charles Darwin 16. The Modern Synthesis 17. Richard Dawkins, the Darwin of Our Times 18. How New Species Form 19. Red Queen Effect 20. Evolution of Bipedal Apes and Humans Part 4: DNA: A Powerful New Tool 21. Introduction to DNA Technology 22. The Race to Discover DNA's Structure 23. Discovering the Secret to Life 24. Mutations and Junk DNA Part 5: DNA Applied to Paleoanthropology 25. DNA Science Applied to Human Origins 26. Tracing Our Ape Heritage 27. The Age and Origin of Our Species 28. Out of Africa 29. Neanderthal-Human Interbreeding 30. Denisovan-Human Interbreeding Part 6: Uniquely Human Evolution 31. Bipedal Walking 32. Hairlessness 33. Big Brain Development 34. Speech and Language 35. Fire, Cooking and Tools 36. Sex Part 7: Homo Sapiens Dominate 37. Great Leap Forward 38. Agriculture and Civilization 39. The Journey from Ape to Man 40. What the Future Holds
Ralph D. Hermansen had a 40-year career in materials science and engineering. He has worked on many diverse engineering projects, including an atom smasher, classified weapons programs, design of the Boeing 737 and 747 airplanes, military aircraft and their electronic platforms, space satellites, missiles, automotive electronics, and telephony and other commercial applications. He planted his roots with Hughes Aircraft Corporation in his later career and eventually retired from there as a Senior Scientist. Career-wise, he has contributed numerous technical articles to journals and magazines, has 21 patents, and has several published books related to his career field. One of his most recent is Polymeric Thermosetting Compounds, available from Apple Academic Press. Ralph adopted a second career path after retiring in 1998, that of multidisciplinary science writer. His primary focus has been evolutionary science, which is incredibly diverse. Ralph's goal in writing Down from the Trees was to help curious readers learn the facts in plain language without battling the jargon and see that our prehistoric past is fascinating and filled with unsolved puzzles.