In 2001, scientists were finally able to determine the full human genome sequence, and with the discovery began a genomic voyage back in time. Since then, we have sequenced the full genomes of many of mankind's primitive relatives at a remarkable rate. The genome of the common chimpanzee (2005), macaque (2007) and orangutan (2011) have already been identified, and the identification of other primate genomes is underway, including the bonobo, gorilla, and baboon. Researchers are beginning to unravel our full genetic history, comparing it with closely related species to answer age old questions about how and when we evolved. For the first time, we are finding our own ancestors in our genome and are thereby gleaning new information about our evolutionary past. In Ancestors in Our Genome, geneticist Eugene Harris presents us with the complete and up-to-date account of the evolution of the human genome. Written from the perspective of population genetics, the book traces human origins back to their earliest source among our earliest human ancestors, and explains some of the challenging questions that scientists are currently attempting to answer.
For example, what does the high level of discordance among the gene trees of humans and the African great apes tell us about our respective separations from our common ancestor? Was this process fast or slow, and when and why did it occur? How can we explain the fact that evolutionary relationships among copies of specific genes from individual primate species can differ from the evolutionary relationships of the species themselves? Harris draws upon extensive experience researching primate evolution in order to deliver a lively and thorough history of human evolution. Ancestors in Our Genome is the most complete discussion of our current understanding of the human genome available.
Eugene Harris is a Research Affiliate of the Center for the Study of Human Origins in the Department of Anthropology at New York University. He is one of the leading experts in the genomic study of primate evolution. His early research, using modern DNA analyses to firmly establish an evolutionary tree of the African monkey group that includes baboons, mandrills and related monkeys, was influential in human evolution studies showing that anatomical features are unreliable for ascertaining the evolutionary relationships among early human fossils.
Chapter 1. The Trees Within the Forest: The Molecular Quest for Our Nearest Primate Relative ; Chapter 2. Looks Can Be Deceiving: Evolution Does a Double-Take ; Chapter 3. The Great Divorce: The Human Lineage Emerges ; Chapter 4. A Population Crash: The Down and Upsides to It ; Chapter 5. What Makes Us Human?: Searching the Genome for our Species-Wide Adaptations ; Chapter 6. The Ongoing Evolutionary Journey: Human Adaptations Around the World ; Chapter 7: Kissing Cousins: Clues from Ancient Genomes ; Chapter 8. The Future of the Genome