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Publisher's Summary

Trying to understand our human origins has always been a fundamental part of who we are. Today, with the help of dramatic archaeological discoveries and groundbreaking advancements in technology and scientific understanding, we are closer than we've ever been to learning the true story. In recent decades, it has been the science of paleoanthropology that has led the investigation, helping us make sense of this controversial subject and providing us with a richer understanding of our origins. It's also sparked continued debate about key issues in human evolution.

  • Did early humans evolve in Africa alone, or in regions throughout the world?
  • Did Neandertals play an important role in our genetic heritage and, if so, how?
  • Why did prehistoric humans form cooperative communities and create art?

Now you can complete your own understanding of these issues in a fascinating 24-lecture series from an expert paleoanthropologist, who surveys both the questions that continue to rile the world's greatest minds in anthropology and the cutting-edge science responsible for them. The result is this expert guide to the wide-ranging debates over the most profound questions we can ask. Each lecture focuses on a single one of these questions and the sometimes surprising, sometimes fierce, and always illuminating debates surrounding them, including whether it was Africa or Asia that was more central to human origins, what prehistoric cultural groups were really like, and when humans actually reached the New World.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.

©2011 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2011 The Great Courses

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Thorough explanation, engagingly presented.

This is an interesting course engagingly presented by someone who is clearly very knowledgeable. Hawks explains his reasoning clearly and methodically like an eminent lawyer making his case.

His background in genetics offers insights that well informed non-specialists may not be aware of.

A minor criticism might be that Hawks tells why we know key information but doesn’t tell us a great deal about the actual lives of ancestral hominins. Against that I found his explanations of how evolution seems to be at work filled answered wider questions about natural selection.

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  • Sarah S
  • 26-06-2015

Fascinating and Exciting

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Definitely! It is a fascinating topic. The lectures are also arranged in such a way that they build on each other and connect to each other in a way that is easy to understand.

What did you like best about this story?

This is one of the most fascinating and wonderful things I've listened to on Audible. Still being fairly new to the field of paleoanthropology myself, this course really put the major discoveries and the active debates of the field into a big-picture perspective that was easy to understand and really exciting (having a biology and geology background myself). It also came out quite recently, so the science is pretty much up to date at this point in time.

What about Professor John Hawks’s performance did you like?

I liked his ability to infuse his enthusiasm for the field of paleoanthropology into his discussions.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

There were many profound takeaways. My favorite was the idea that culture and medical technology--human choice--is potentially the biggest evolutionary force on human populations today. In my view, that is a very powerful statement.

Any additional comments?

I loved this course. This is a great listen for someone to wet their pallet and see if this is something they would like to focus on in their college studies and life career. It lays out a broad scope of work being done in this field, and it has made me thirsty for more!

6 people found this helpful

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  • Daniel J. Macarro
  • 28-05-2015

Good overview of all topics of biological anth

Nice speaker, always gives two sides of each issue as they arise but then shows the resolution of many of the older one. Those who liked this but want a little more technical stuff should give Svante Paabos the Neandethal Code a listen

8 people found this helpful

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  • marcus
  • 29-06-2014

Current to spring 2014. Good science up to date.

Writer is an expert in paleo-anthropology and biology through genomics. This course is current through denosovia and Florencia. A detailed exploration of who we are and from whence we came. Highly recommended..

25 people found this helpful

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  • Travis
  • 06-08-2017

A good primer on the history of the human race

This course is a great survey of the path of human evolution, the history of the human race. It is thoroughly enjoyable as a listen but it doesn't delve very deep into the topics discussed. So, A+ for anyone dipping their toes into this subject matter, or for anyone who wants their interest piqued so that they can stimulate questions on what direction to go to for your next book on the subject. For people well versed in this subject, this is still a nice listen but won't challenge you much or broaden any horizons you likely haven't touched yet.

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  • RickyF
  • 05-09-2017

Better than an introductory physical anthro course

Professor Hawks course is comprehensive, up-to-date, and well told. He is a good narrator. Highly recommended Great Courses listen!

2 people found this helpful

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  • GRANT NEALE
  • 26-09-2015

Clear and easy to listen to.

The book is up to date and gives you a good overview of our understanding of humans evolution using observation techniques and genetics.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Sulpicia
  • 15-05-2015

Great look at human evolution and genetics

Absolutely loved this. Accessible, engaging, up-to-date. Highly recommended. it was especially nice to have an episode on Homo floresiensis.

5 people found this helpful

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  • Robert
  • 19-11-2020

amazing!

I have listened to at least 30 great courses over the last five years, 240+ audible books in the last five years. This course on essentially human anthropology is probably the best I have listened too so far! This may be due to the build up I have made by listening to so many others and having a well rounded opinion entering this course, however the author does bridge thr gap between the complex and simple very well, very Carl Sagan like. Highly recommend this one.

1 person found this helpful

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  • B. Bartosh
  • 18-06-2019

Excellent course!

This was very well presented for such a complex and controversial subject. I would love to have more courses with this professor, perhaps something that goes into more depth on Neanderthals.

1 person found this helpful

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  • charlanda wise
  • 10-05-2015

excellent

I loved it. the professor's voice was very pleasant. I would recommend anyone to listen to it.

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  • Paula Wright
  • 07-10-2015

More up to date

more up to date than Biological Anthropology. Again recommend reading with Hrdy's Mothernature and Mothers and Others

1 person found this helpful

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  • Anthony
  • 18-11-2019

Excellent but quite technical

This is an excellent course but beware - it is much more technical than other gray curses. I enjoyed it but can imagine it may not suit everyone.

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