Full details

Basic Books
  • Hardcover
  • $27.99 / $31.00 CAN
  • ISBN 13: 978-0-465-02083-6
"Pääbo's book is well worth adding to your Summer reading list."
John Farrell, Forbes.com

"In Neanderthal Man Pääbo offers a fascinating account of the three decades of research that led from a secret hobby to a scientific milestone.... Neanderthal Man is a revealing history of a new scientific field."
Carl Zimmer, New York Times Book Review

"Pääbo has provided us with a fabulous account of three decade of research into ancient DNA, culminating in 2010 with the publication of the Neanderthal genome.... Pääbo's book has to be compared to The Double Helix (1968), James Watson's brilliant but controversial account of how the structure of DNA was discovered. When taken together they provide an insight into how bio-molecular science has both changed and remained much the same during the last half-century. Both are strong personal accounts of scientific discovery, exposing how science is driven as much by passion, ambition, and competition as by rational thought and the sharing of knowledge. In both books the reader is gripped by life stories of far greater interest than those in may novels before being plunged into passages of near-unintelligible science (despite much simplification) that are nevertheless strangely enthralling."
Steven Mithen, New York Review of Books

"This is the fascinating account of Svante Pääbo's efforts to sequence Neanderthal nuclear DNA.... [H]is personal story, from graduate to world-renowned scientist, make this a very enjoyable book.... The study of Neanderthals has kept palaeontologists occupied for more than a century, but Pääbo convinces us that decoding their DNA will provide insights into how different we are from them and what makes us so unique."
BBC Focus

Neanderthal Man

In Search of Lost Genomes

By Svante Pääbo

A preeminent geneticist hunts the Neanderthal genome to answer the biggest question of them all: what does it mean to be human?

What can we learn from the genomes of our closest evolutionary relatives?

Neanderthal Man tells the story of geneticist Svante Pääbo's mission to answer this question, and recounts his ultimately successful efforts to genetically define what makes us different from our Neanderthal cousins. Beginning with the study of DNA in Egyptian mummies in the early 1980s and culminating in the sequencing of the Neanderthal genome in 2010, Neanderthal Man describes the events, intrigues, failures, and triumphs of these scientifically rich years through the lens of the pioneer and inventor of the field of ancient DNA.

We learn that Neanderthal genes offer a unique window into the lives of our hominin relatives and may hold the key to unlocking the mystery of why humans survived while Neanderthals went extinct. Drawing on genetic and fossil clues, Pääbo explores what is known about the origin of modern humans and their relationship to the Neanderthals and describes the fierce debate surrounding the nature of the two species' interactions. His findings have not only redrawn our family tree, but recast the fundamentals of human history—the biological beginnings of fully modern Homo sapiens, the direct ancestors of all people alive today.

A riveting story about a visionary researcher and the nature of scientific inquiry, Neanderthal Man offers rich insight into the fundamental question of who we are.

Svante Pääbo is the founder of the field of ancient DNA. The director of the department of genetics at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Pääbo has been featured in the New York Times, Newsweek, National Geographic, and The Economist, as well as on NPR, PBS, and BBC. In 2009 Time named him one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World. Pääbo lives in Leipzig, Germany.

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