This generously illustrated book tells the story of the human family, showing how our species’ physical traits and behaviors evolved over millions of years as our ancestors adapted to dramatic environmental changes.
In What Does It Means to Be Human? Rick Potts, director of the Smithsonian’s Human Origins Program, and Chris Sloan, National Geographic’s paleoanthropolgy expert, delve into our distant past to explain when, why, and how we acquired the unique biological and cultural qualities that govern our most fundamental connections and interactions with other people and with the natural world. Drawing on the latest research, they conclude that we are the last survivors of a once-diverse family tree, and that our evolution was shaped by one of the most unstable eras in Earth’s environmental history.
The book presents a wealth of attractive new material especially developed for the Hall’s displays, from life-like reconstructions of our ancestors sculpted by the acclaimed John Gurche to photographs from National Geographic and Smithsonian archives, along with informative graphics and illustrations. In coordination with the exhibit opening, the PBS program NOVA will present a related three-part television series, and the museum will launch a website expected to draw 40 million visitors.
“The book will highlight studies from around the world on human evolution, including more than 20 years of Potts’ own extraordinary field research. As a companion to the exhibition, the book will delve deeper into the discoveries that link the evolution of human traits to dramatic climate change over millions of years of Earth’s ancient history, and it will also provide enriched context for the Human Origins Initiative’s many program elements.” –HealthBusiness Week