Show Book List  | More books by Christopher Wills

Reviews elsewhere on the web:
Anthony Campbell
Kate Tucker

Christopher Wills

The Runaway Brain

How humans came to have such large brains is a bit of an evolutionary puzzle. They are very useful now, but many of our talents would seem of little use in the environment of 100000 years ago. In The Runaway Brain Christopher Wills puts forward the argument that once our intelligence exceeded a certain threshold, continued growth was pretty much inevitable, inependent of the external environment. At least that's what I think he is claiming - my one problem with the book is that although Wills gives us an excellent tour of many areas of evolution and genetics, he never seems to collect up the claims he is making into a form in which they can be judged by the reader.

The book is in four parts. The first looks at 'Mitochondrial Eve', and discusses when she might have lived. The second examines human evolution in terms of the fossils which have been found. The third part deals with genetics an looks at how certain kinds of behaviour are genetically determined. The final part moves on to brain evolution, and it is here that I hoped that Wills would bring all of the threads together to reach a conclusion, but I don't feel that he did. The book is not difficult to read, but goes into a lot of detail, and some readers might find it slow going. It's best suited to the reader who enjoys a book with plenty of challenging ideas, rather than one who wants to get to the end as quickly as possible. info
Paperback 400 pages  
ISBN: 0465071457
Salesrank: 4574959
Published: 1994 Basic Books
Marketplace:New from $65.04:Used from $2.48
Buy from info
Paperback 320 pages  
ISBN: 0006546722
Salesrank: 7318382
Weight:0.44 lbs
Published: 1995 Flamingo
Marketplace:New from £159.44:Used from £0.01
Buy from info
ISBN: 0006546722
Weight:0.44 lbs
Published: FLAMINGO
Marketplace:New from CDN$ 250.21:Used from CDN$ 20.00
Buy from

Product Description
You might not suspect it, but we are currently living through a revolution in scientific knowledge. What we know about the human brain's workings and about the earliest history of our distant humanoid ancestors changes almost weekly. A new view of humanity is being forged - new theories appear all the time, splinter, are revised and adandoned. Scientists from different fields of research are finally co-operating and sharing their insights in order to map out a new view of the human brain. Paleaoanthropologists digging in Kenya, neuropyschologists building organic robots in their labs and geneticists unearthing the secret in all our genes have all thrown their ideas into the melting pot...where they combust. The way we view who we are, where we came from and how we came to think at all is being altered irrevocably. And this is the subject-matter of this book.