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Wiley-Blackwell Encyclopedia of Human Evolution, 2 Volume Set

Bernard Wood (Editor)
ISBN: 978-1-4051-5510-6
1264 pages
May 2011, Wiley-Blackwell
Wiley-Blackwell Encyclopedia of Human Evolution, 2 Volume Set (1405155108) cover image


This comprehensive A to Z encyclopedia provides extensive coverage of important scientific terms related to improving our understanding of how we evolved. Specifically, the 5,000 entries in this two-volume set cover evidence and methods used to investigate the relationships among the living great apes, evidence about what makes the behavior of modern humans distinctive, and evidence about the evolutionary history of that distinctiveness, as well as information about modern methods used to trace the recent evolutionary history of modern human populations. This text provides a resource for everyone studying the emergence of Homo sapiens.

Visit the companion site www.woodhumanevolution.com to browse additional references and updates from this comprehensive encyclopedia.
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Table of Contents

Contributors vii


Executive Editor

Assistant Executive Editor

Senior Editorial Assistant

Editorial Assistant

Associate Editors

Advisory Editors

Section and Topic Editors


Foreword by Francisco J. Ayala xi

Preface xviii

Acknowledgments xxi

Topic Entry List xxiii

List of Abbreviations lxxvii

A–Z 1

References i

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Author Information

Bernard Wood is the University Professor of Human Origins in the Department of Anthropology at George Washington University, and Adjunct Senior Scientist at the National Museum of Natural History, the Smithsonian Institution. He is a medically-qualified paleoanthropologist who moved into full-time academic life in 1972. He holds the degrees of B.Sc., M.D., Ph.D., and D.Sc. from The University of London. In 1982 he was appointed to the S.A. Courtauld Chair of Anatomy in The University of London, and in 1985 he moved to the Derby Chair of Anatomy and to the Chairmanship of the Department of Human Anatomy and Cell Biology at the University of Liverpool. He was appointed the Dean of The University of Liverpool Medical School in 1995 and served as Dean until his move to Washington in the fall of 1997.When he was still a medical student he joined Richard Leakey's first expedition to what was then Lake Rudolf in 1968 and he has remained associated with that research group, and pursued research in paleoanthropology, ever since. His research centers on increasing our understanding of human evolutionary history by developing and improving the ways we analyze the hominid fossil record. He is the author of numerous publications and Director of the Center for the Advanced Study of Hominid Paleobiology at GWU.

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“This two volume hardbound set aims to provide a fairly comprehensive reference work to the fascinating area of human evolution; or as the book terms it “an authoritative and accessible source of information about the hominin clade of the tree of life.”  (Reference Reviews, 2012)

Editor Bernard Wood and a veritable “who’s who” of scholars have produced a volume (in fact two) that is unquestionably the most authoritative and thorough compilation of information regarding human evolutionary studies ever packaged between two (actually four) hardcovers.   Often such encyclopedic undertakings end up resembling a soup dish – broad and shallow.  Not so the Wiley-Blackwell Encyclopedia of Human Evolution.  It is destined to become the true tureen (broad and deep) of this genre for years to come.  This compilation is a stunning editorial achievement and should find a place on the book shelf of any serious student of paleoanthropology - at ~ 900 pages, it is guaranteed to fill, both literally and figuratively, the gap in any personal or academic library.

"This is both an enjoyable and a truly useful book. If you're rolling in money, go and get it; if not, check it out from the library fast. It'll be an old friend before you know it." (Evolutionary Anthropology, 2012)

"In addition to being an excellent resource for one's own research, Wood's encyclopedia is indispensable for preparing lectures at both the graduate and undergraduate levels. It provides comprehensive treatments of topics that one should remember (but inevitably does not) from their own graduate training. The paleoanthropological perspective and focus on each topic is very useful and difficult to find anywhere else". (UCL Anthropology, 2012)

"The Wiley-Blackwell Encyclopedia's overall comprehensiveness is assured not only by the very ecumenical view of paleoanthropology's scope that is so amply reflected in the volumes' diverse coverage, but by the division of the extensive subject-matter into a huge number of snappy bite-sized pieces." (Elsevier, 2 January 2012)

"As Senior Editor, Professor Wood has assembled a resource of great value to a wide audience across the disciplines. Nowhere else is there a complete inventory of fossils by site of discovery! Francisco Ayala's graceful introductory essay is followed by a list of topics that gives a unique overview of the riches beyond in the full entries. The level of detail is superb, but not overwhelming. About 2500 references." (Professor Caleb E. Finch, University of Southern California, 2011)

"The Wiley-Blackwell Encyclopedia of Human Evolution is to date the most comprehensive and up-to-date source of information on the topic. It is top-level science made appealing to professonals and non-professionals alike. Its cleverly structured cross-indexed entries make it an irreplaceable book for anyone interested in Paleoanthropology, an absolute must..." (Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, 2011)

"Wiley-Blackwell Encyclopedia of Human Evolution is the most comprehensive and authoritative compilation of information pertaining to the origin of humans that currently exists. Most importantly these volumes are accessible and "user friendly" to the amateur as well as the most sophisticated specialist. I refer to these volume regularly." (The Salk Institute for Biological Studies, 2011)

"Recommended. Lower-level undergraduates through researchers/faculty; general readers." (Choice, 1 October 2011)

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Press Release

April 13, 2011
Explore the Origin of Our Species: Wiley-Blackwell Encyclopedia of Human Evolution

The origin and evolution of humanity, from early hominid to dominant species, is the defining story not only of mankind, but of our planet. To chronicle this epic narrative an internationally renowned team, led by Professor Bernard Wood from the George Washington University, presents the Wiley-Blackwell Encyclopedia of Human Evolution, a unique landmark which explores our understanding of mankind’s ancient history.

Over two volumes and 5000 entries Professor Wood’s team provide a authoritative, comprehensive and interdisciplinary A to Z of the important scientific terms, principles and controversies which underpin our understanding of the great ape clade of the Tree of Life.

“There is still much to discover about our ancient past and much that remains open to interpretation, conjecture and debate,” said Professor Wood. “The Wiley-Blackwell Encyclopedia of Human Evolution, the first title of its kind, reveals what we know, and what we still have to learn, improving our understanding of how we evolved.”

Advances in genetics and molecular biology have allowed scientists to look at existing fossil evidence in new ways. These advances are covered alongside general evolutionary principles which explain the pattern and process of evolution, fossil and archaeological evidence, and climatic and ecological context.

The comprehensive two volumes and the companion website, which features additional material and updates, makes the Wiley-Blackwell Encyclopedia of Human Evolution an invaluable resource for life and natural scientists, archaeologists, physical anthropologists and all those who wish to explore the epic history of the evolution of our species.

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Wiley-Blackwell Encyclopedia of Human Evolution, 2 Volume Set (US $720.00)

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