Biocultural Evolution: The Anthropology of Human Prehistory by Clare L. Boulanger
384 pages, $57.95 list
Instructor's Manual available
eBook availability
Biocultural Evolution
The Anthropology of Human Prehistory
In a writing style that will captivate those new to the subject, Boulanger presents an understanding of human biological and cultural evolution that is both scientific and humanistic, in keeping with classic anthropological ideals. The aim of this reasonably priced text is to help students think critically about what being human has been, what it is at present, and what it may be in the future. While the book focuses on the anthropological subfields of biological anthropology and archaeology, information and insights are also drawn from cultural anthropology and anthropological linguistics.

Boulanger’s absorbing treatment, in contrast to other texts on human evolution, features an opening chapter that seeks to negotiate fairly, without defensiveness or condescension, a pathway for creationists to follow into the topic. The next three chapters provide background on the history of evolutionary science, the biology of inheritance and population change, and primatology. Chapters 5 through 9 focus on human biocultural evolution from the time of the ancestor we share with chimpanzees through the development of agriculture and the founding of states. The last chapter deals with the issue of race—how it has affected our interpretation of the past and how it continues to influence the present.

In addition to an extensive glossary, the fully illustrated textbook features numerous topic-enhancing sidebars, questions for discussion and review, and student exercises.
“Insightful. I think the text will stimulate excellent discussion and really get students thinking critically.” — Angela Foster, North Carolina Wesleyan College

“While it may be difficult to balance between writing a clear and concise college textbook centered on human prehistory, evolution, and the development of city-states, and an accessible well-organized description of current thinking in both paleontology and archaeology, the author has succeeded in creating such a balance.” —David I. Orenstein,

“A very useful text. I especially appreciate the student focus and accessibility.” — Scott Catey, Georgia State University

“Boulanger’s approach and interests make this text the most appealing I have reviewed in years. I will consider switching for the first time in over a decade.” — James J. Funaro, Cabrillo College

“I enjoyed reading Boulanger’s text. It is well written and easily comprehended, unlike many texts that are cluttered with many charts, graphs and other figures that students oftentimes gloss over. I think it is a good summary of the field.” — Joseph Lorenz, Central Washington University
Table of Contents
1. Anthropology and What It Can Do
Anthropology and Culture / The E-Word / What Evolution Is; What It Is Not / What This Textbook Is; What It Is Not?

2. A Brief, Incomplete History of Evolutionary Thought
The Shape of God / The Circle of Life / Deepening the Circle of Life / The Unfixity of Species / Natural Selection / Mendel and the Foundation of Genetics / A Closing Note on Interdisciplinary Work?

3. Beyond Darwin and Mendel
The Mathematics of Mendel / What’s in a Gene? / Making New Cells; Making New Organisms / Population Genetics / Updating Terms and Concepts

4. Mammals, Primates, Us
Mammals, Primates . . . / Common Primate Characteristics / The Human Place in the Primate Order / Notes on Ethology / The Great Apes?

5. The First Hominins . . . Maybe
Proceed with Caution / Paleoanthropology / Big Heads or Two Feet? / Hominins Step Away from Panins / Peering at Daily Life through the Paleoanthropological Window?

6. Genus Homo: A Long, Strange Trip
A Head for Toolmaking / Archaeology / The Mysterious Rise of Genus Homo

7. Homo sapiens and the (R)evolution of Culture
The Mysterious Rise of Homo sapiens (sapiens?) / Human Cultural Behavior / Upper Paleolithic (Material) Culture / Homo sapiens on the Move / Dating Techniques, Revisited?

8. Cast Out to Till the Ground: Domestication and Agriculture
When Was the Mesolithic? / The Golden Age of Foraging / Domestication, Agriculture, Sedentism / The Un-Neolithic Non-Revolution / Domestication, Agriculture, and the Archaeological Record / The Downside of Agriculture?

9. The Evolution of State Society
All the World’s a Stage Theory / State Society / Kin-Based Political Organization / From Kin-Based to State Society / Old World States—The Power of Rivers / New World States—The Power of Boundary-Crossing / East Meets West?

10. Human Variation, Past, Present . . . and Future ?
The Peopling of the Americas—Reprise / Understanding Human Biological Variation—The Bullet Points / Race and the History of Anthropology / The Manufacture of Race / The Future of Evolution?