Once Upon A Time The Paleoanthropology Publication date : September 2, 2010
The author of such successful works as Au commencement était l’homme, Lucy et l’obscurantisme and Le Sexe et l’Evolution, Pascal Picq is a senior lecturer in the Chair of Palaeoanthropology and Prehistory at the Collège de France.
In recent years, palaeoanthropology has revolutionised our vision of humankind and of its origins and lineage. The saga of that scientific revolution is recounted here with the brilliance, drive and popularising talent that Pascal Picq is known for. What he reveals here is how knowledge of our distant past and of evolution can provide answers to today’s questions about such issues as nutrition, ageing, how we treat animals, morality, racism, etc.
The first part of the book aims to trace the progress made in palaeoanthropology during the past thirty years, so as to suggest the direction of some possible future developments and discoveries.
The second part offers a methodical presentation of various contributions to some fundamental questions about humans, animals and ethics, as well as an investigation of some more specific issues such as obesity and Alzheimer’s disease. How can we continue to philosophise about animals if we disregard the advances made in ethology? How can we claim to study obesity if rats are our only experimental models, or if we overlook the social and cognitive aspects of nutrition among apes?
Can we continue to carry out animal testing while ignoring that apes are highly sensitive social beings that empathise and suffer? Can we assert that evolution is directed toward humankind, when we know that the price of our expansion was the elimination of the closest species to our own — both now and in the past?