Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Pat Shipman Reading Tonight!

Author Pat Shipman will discuss her latest book, The Invaders: How Humans and Their Dogs Drove Neanderthals to Extinction, TONIGHT, June 9 at 7 p.m. at Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill.

Shipman is a retired Adjunct Professor of Anthropology at Pennsylvania State University, the author of numerous books, and a terrific speaker. She’s able to clearly explain complicated theories to non-scientific folks
like me, making them both interesting and compelling.

The Invaders, published by Harvard University Press, has received widespread attention. Interviews with her have appeared in National Geographic, on NPR, BBC World, WBUR, CBS Radio, WNPR (Connecticut), NHPR (New Hampshire), Wisconsin Public Radio, the Irish radio program “Moncrieff” and the podcasts “Modern Notion” and “Podularity,” as well as in The Guardian, The Irish Examiner and others.

The Wall Street Journal summarized the book as follows:

With their large brains, sturdy physique, sophisticated tools, and hunting skills, Neanderthals are the closest known relatives to humans. Approximately 200,000 years ago, as modern humans began to radiate out from their evolutionary birthplace in Africa, Neanderthals were already thriving in Europe – descendants of a much earlier migration of the African genus Homo. But when modern humans eventually made their way to Europe 45,000 years ago, Neanderthals suddenly vanished. Ever since the first Neanderthal bones were identified in 1856, scientists have been vexed by the question, why did modern humans survive while their evolutionary cousins went extinct?

The Invaders musters compelling evidence to show that the major factor in the Neanderthals’ demise was direct competition with newly arriving humans. Drawing on insights from the field of invasion biology, which predicts that the species ecologically closest to the invasive predator will face the greatest competition, Pat Shipman traces the devastating impact of a growing human population: reduction of Neanderthals’ geographic range, isolation into small groups, and loss of genetic diversity.

But modern humans were not the only invaders who competed with Neanderthals for big game. Shipman reveals fascinating confirmation of humans’ partnership with the first domesticated wolf-dogs soon after Neanderthals first began to disappear. This alliance between two predator species, she hypothesizes, made possible an unprecedented degree of success in hunting large Ice Age mammals – a distinct and ultimately decisive advantage for humans over Neanderthals at a time when climate change made both groups vulnerable.

Pat Shipman is the author of Femme Fatale: Love, Lies and the Unknown Life of Mata Hari; The Animal Connection: A New Perspective On What Makes Us Human; To The Heart of the Nile: Lady Florence Baker and The Exploration of Central Africa; The Evolution of Racism: The Human Differences and the Use and Abuse of Science; Life History of a Fossil: An Introduction to Taphonomy and Palaeoecology; Taking Wind: Archaeopteryx and the Evolution of Bird Flight; The Man Who Found the Missing Link: Eugene Dubois and His Lifelong Quest to Prove Darwin Right; The Human Skeleton (with Alan Walker and David Bichell); and Reconstructive the Paleoecology and Taphonomic History of Ramapithecus Wickeri at Fort Ternan, Kenya.

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