When first published in 1992, Braindance presented a revolutionary look at the origins of the human brain. Biological anthropologist Dean Falk now brings the discussion into the 21st century. In this revised edition with a new preface and updated information through 2003, she reexamines her groundbreaking research of how the human brain evolved and reveals how this process continues to impact our species. Around two million years ago, our earliest hominin ancestors experienced an explosive brain expansion, at least one million years after they began to walk upright. Rather than linking bipedalism alone with brain expansion, as previously theorized, Falk's explanation involves climate. She contends that bipedalism allowed our ancestors to wander farther afield in savannah-like regions, where their brains were subjected to solar heating. Falk and her colleagues discovered that one hominin line developed a complicated brain-cooling system to combat the destructive effects of excessive heat. This ability and expanding brain size evolved together, thus producing hominins with a brain capacity three times greater than their ancestors. Falk further discusses the evolution of visual skills, right-handedness, language ability, right-brain/left-brain and male/female differences--and the uniquely human ability to dance. The specifics of how we tapped, toed, and twisted through the prehistoric "brain dance" form the story line of this book. And what did two million years of bigger brains produce? The last chapter summarizes Falk's ideas on human cognitive and conscious capacities for the future.
About the Author
Dean Falk is professor of anthropology at Florida State University and honorary professor of human biology at the University of Vienna. An author of numerous books and articles, she became an elected fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2000.