Paleofantasy: What Evolution Really Tells Us About Sex, Diet, and How We Live

Marlene Zuk, Author
Marlene Zuk. Norton, $29.50 (304p) ISBN 978-0-393-08137-4
Paperback - 328 pages - 978-0-393-34792-0
Open Ebook - 304 pages - 978-0-393-08986-8
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In thoroughly engaging and witty prose, Zuk (Sex on Six Legs), a biologist from the University of Minnesota, dismantles the pseudoscience behind nostalgic yearnings for our caveman days. As she so well notes, “Paleofantasies call to mind a time when everything about us—body, mind, and behavior—was in sync with the environment.” Zuk makes it clear that no such time ever existed—that’s simply not how evolution works. Whether she’s shredding the underlying premises of the paleo diet, the paleo exercise regimen, or the structure of the paleo family, she does so via cogent discussions of the nature of evolution and accessible elucidations of cutting-edge science. Zuk explains that all organisms are engaged in a never-ending attempt to do the best they can in a changing environment, and evolution never yields either perfection or a final product: “We are both always facing new environments, and always shackled by genes from the past. After all, those Paleolithic ancestors were still dragging around genes they shared with hamsters and bacteria.” She goes on to demonstrate the ways in which humans are still evolving, citing differences in earwax characteristics around the globe as evidence of our continuing journey. Though the jury’s still out on what humans will be like further down the road, Zuk’s is an informative and entertaining pit stop.15 illus. Agents: Wendy Strothman and Lauren MacLeod, the Strothman Agency. (Mar.)
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