Books : reviews

Mark Maslin.
The Cradle of Humanity: how the changing landscape of Africa made us so smart.
OUP. 2017

Humans are rather weak, slow, and defenceless when compared with many other animals. So how did we become the world’s apex predator, influencing almost every part of the Earth system?

Fundamental to our success is our large brain that makes us very smart, both individually, but more importantly, collectively. Yet our brains are energy hungry, frequently go wrong, and cause difficulties in childbirth, so this bizarre adaptation must have given our ancestors a considerable advantage. Mark Maslin brings together the latest evidence from astronomy, geology, hydrology, climatology, and palaeoanthropology to show how the rapidly changing landscape of East Africa made the Rift Valley the cradle of humanity.