Approximately 200,000 years ago, as modern humans began to radiate out from their evolutionary birthplace in Africa, Neanderthals were already thriving in Europe - descendants of a much earlier migration of the African genus Homo. But when modern humans eventually made their way to Europe 45,000 years ago, Neanderthals suddenly vanished. Ever since the first Neanderthal bones were identified in 1856, scientists have been vexed by the question: Why did modern humans survive while their evolutionary cousins went extinct?
The Invaders musters compelling evidence to show that the major factor in the Neanderthals' demise was direct competition with newly arriving humans. Drawing on insights from the field of invasion biology, Pat Shipman traces the devastating impact of a growing human population: reduction of Neanderthals' geographic range, isolation into small groups, and loss of genetic diversity. But modern humans were not the only invaders who competed with Neanderthals for big game. Shipman reveals fascinating confirmation of humans' partnership with the first domesticated wolf-dogs soon after Neanderthals first began to disappear. This alliance between two predator species, she hypothesizes, made possible an unprecedented degree of success in hunting large Ice Age mammals - a distinct and ultimately decisive advantage for humans over Neanderthals at a time when climate change made both groups vulnerable.
This is a scientifically rigorous book that thoroughly and carefully lays out the author's hypothesis about how anatomically modern humans replaced Neanderthals in Europe. Whether or not I agree with the author, it's refreshing to see true scientific thinking and writing. People should read it just to see what real science is like. The subject is fascinating.
The narrator, however, is scientifically illiterate. It's funny to hear her mispronouncing any word that's at all sciency. "Die Adam" for diatom is one example. The author's wild inflections are incongruous with the reasoned steady tone of the author's text. Somewhat distracting, but not enough that I wouldn't recommend the book.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
When the information in a book is compelling, I find it VERY distracting for the reader, especially a female reader, to do an oral-interpretation-of-literature, over-enunciated, dramatic reading..now whispering confidentially...now almost giggling, now edging on mock-sarcasm...YUCK -- this only distracts from the content of a good scientific tome. The reader makes "the reader" the point, not the information. I could "hear" her smiling as she read. I imagined sitting around the reading rug in the 1st grade with her flipping the book around to show us the pretty pictures. STOP IT. By the time the reader got to the really dry review-of-literature stuff, she'd turned off the "charm" and turned me off, as well.
15 of 19 people found this review helpful
Taking volumes of research data and summaries, converting it into information that lay people not only can understand but can link together is exactly what I wanted.
Now, what was a coloring book of lots of currently discovered facts about Neanderthals has turned into a nearly 3D motion picture of Neanderthal and human history between 20,000 and 50,000 years ago. And I'm not talking about a Hollywood film full of literary license.
Not everything is known and some speculation on possibilities may prove to be incorrect, but, there is enough agreement between many researched facts that an understanding from this book is probably as accurate as you will get from a quick study of the Middle Ages in Europe, or the indigenous people of America during the 19th century.
An excellent accounting of how Eurasia transitioned from Neanderthal to Early Modern Human ownership - "the invasion and non-combative conquest". And, it's a multi-causal extinction of our cousins, but oh-so human behaviour driven.
And, I'd say both we and our cousins were just as intelligent as the humans who finally figured out how to transition from stone to metal tools and implements. Advancements just take time. Time ran out for the Neanderthals when Homo Saps moved into the neighborhood with bad timing.
Highly recommend both the book and audio, listening to the audio first.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
If you could sum up The Invaders in three words, what would they be?
Intriguing, enlightening and fascinating
What did you like best about this story?
This gives an excellent explanation of why the Neanderthals disappeared and why modern humans now run the world. I will never look at my dog the same again.
What about Donna Postel’s performance did you like?
Very well spoken.
3 of 4 people found this review helpful
This book was not what I expected. It was a well researched series of technical papers that discuss the research of many leaders in the field of anthropology and archeology. The fascinating information is presented in topical chapters. I recommend listening to this in an environment that allows for strict attention, rather than while multitasking.
My primary critique of the writing is the sense that the author is continuously apologizing for refuting the conclusions of others. This made it difficult to focus on her arguments and assertions.
2 of 3 people found this review helpful
Before purchasing this book, or any other for that matter, I like to read the reviews that others have left regarding their listening experience. I was concerned that several reviews were critical of the readers presentation sytle. I am very glad that I chose this book in spite of the negative reviews. I found the material very interesting. I found the readers voice and style very pleasant. I personally recommend this book to anyone with an interest in this kind of material.
I understand this is a a science based presentation of the title concept. I didn't realize it was quite as dry a presentation as it ended up being, though. Lots of background on various types of invasive species, the limits of radio carbon dating, extensive details on specific bones at specific sites. If you have a strong interest in the science of archeology (more than the conclusions), this is a good thing. If your interest is more in the speculative theories of the title subject, you might be disappointed. You go through half the book before dogs are even mentioned, and the assertion in the subtitle of the book is only really discussed in an integrated fashion in the last 30 minutes.
1 of 2 people found this review helpful