Laman utama Quarterly Review of Biology Homo Mysterious: Evolutionary Puzzles of Human Nature . By David P. Barash. Oxford...
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390 THE QUARTERLY REVIEW OF BIOLOGY den on which community-organizing processes revealed in marine systems are idiosyncratic versus which are universal among environments and why. Overall, I recommend this new, thoughtfully conceived compendium of essays on marine community ecology for its intended audiences. It achieves broad coverage, comprehensive insights, and novel visions. Charles H. Peterson, Marine Sciences, Biology & Ecology, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, North Carolina Introduction to the Physical and Biological Oceanography of Shelf Seas. By John H. Simpson and Jonathan Sharples. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press. $125.00 (hardcover); $65.00 (paper). xxiv ⫹ 424 p. ⫹ 16 pl.; ill.; index. ISBN: 978-0-521-87762-6 (hc); 9780-521-70148-8 (pb). 2012. Oceanography and Marine Biology: An Introduction to Marine Science. By David W. Townsend. Sunderland (Massachusetts): Sinauer Associates. $139.95. xviii ⫹ 512 p. ⫹ A-1 A-11; G-1 - G-18; IC-1 - IC-4; I-1 - I-12; ill.; index. ISBN: 978-0-87893-602-1. 2012. EVOLUTION Homo Mysterious: Evolutionary Puzzles of Human Nature. By David P. Barash. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press. $27.95 (hardcover); $19.95 (paper). ix ⫹ 329 p.; index. ISBN: 978-0-19-975194-5 (hc); 978-0-19-932452-1 (pb). [First paperback edition published in 2013.] 2012. In the final paragraph of On the Origin of Species, Darwin speaks of “endless forms most beautiful”— those most elaborate features of organisms evolved to meet the demands of a world red in tooth and claw. The leopard’s spots, the giraffe’s neck, the finch’s beak—these features seem inexplicable but for the light of evolution. In Homo Mysterious, David Barash revisits this most Darwinian idea—the evolutionary origin and maintenance of adaptive features over evolutionary time. And although Barash’s collection of features—female menstruation, why lap dancers make more money during the luteal phase of their ovulatory cycles, the origin and sustained presence of homosexuality in human po; pulations, and the persistence of the Volume 89 arts and religion through human history—would certainly have offended the Victorian reader, it provides excellent stimulation (no pun intended) for a 21st-century audience. From afar, Homo Mysterious might appear a hodgepodge of unanswered human-centric questions—what Donald Rumsfeld once referred to as “known-unknowns.” But on closer examination, the work represents a robust philosophical investigation into the proximate and distal causes for various human evolutionary phenomena. Specifically, Barash seeks evolutionary explanations for both the origin and the persistence of human biological phenomena, which to date have remained insufficiently explained. And where many of the available approaches have focused exclusively on one or the other, the author takes a more holistic perspective, appreciating that proximate and distal forces/causes may work in opposition, in conjunction, or in a myriad of other inexplicable and interesting ways. Barash’s method, which is consistent throughout, is both systematic and rigorous. He does not hesitate to unequivocally dismiss hypotheses that are illogical or improbable, and at the same time appreciates the history of the debate that has ensued, citing relevant contributors and contributions where applicable. For example, in his review of human menstruation (Chapter 2), he begins with a reference to Pliny the Elder, who once referred to menstruation as something that could turn “new wine sour, crops touched by it become barren, grafts die, . . . hives of bees die, . . . and a horrible smell fills the air” (pp. 15–16). Although intended (and repeated here) for comedic effect, this example demonstrates the depth of Barash’s knowledge base, his appreciation for the history of philosophy, and his genuine dedication to figuring out why humans, in very un-ape-like fashion, shed so much of their uterine lining, when it would seem evolutionarily disadvantageous to do so. Ultimately, Homo Mysterious is a well-researched, well-articulated, and unpretentious attempt to resolve a number of unanswered human evolutionary questions. Although a criticism of the work might be its failure to provide resolution (to any of the known-unknowns), I think it speaks instead to the courage of the author—who is unafraid to tackle these most difficult questions. Not only this, but I think Homo Mysterious represents a challenge to readers—to spend less time retelling the history of science, and more time seeking answers to the those dark spots of human understanding. Charles Alt, Greenwich Academy, Greenwich, Connecticut This content downloaded from 128.252.067.066 on July 26, 2016 02:08:33 AM All use subject to University of Chicago Press Terms and Conditions (http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/t-and-c).