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The Incredible Unlikeliness of Being

In this compulsively readable book, Dr. Alice Roberts lays out the miraculously strange way in which the human body grows from a chemical (DNA) into a living, sentient being. A longtime professor and well-known TV presenter, Dr. Roberts is also an author of unusual ability, capable of synthesizing complex ideas and packing dense scientific information into lucid, beautiful prose.Bringing together the latest scientific discoveries and drawing on interviews with scientists from around the world, Dr. Roberts illustrates that our evolution has resulted in something that is awe-inspiring yet far from perfect. Our embryonic development is a quirky mix of new and old, with strokes of genius alongside accommodated glitches and imperfections that are all inherited from distant ancestors. For instance, our development and evolutionary past explains why, as embryos, we have what look like gills, and as adults we suffer from back pain.This is a tale of discovery, about ourselves and our environment, that explores why and how we have developed as we have, looking at the development of human physiognomy through the various lenses of embryology, genetics, anatomy, evolution, and zoology. It combines the remarkable set of skills Alice Roberts possesses as a medical doctor, anatomist, osteoarchaeologist, and writer. As Richard Dawkins put it, the reader emerges from her book "entertained and with a deeper understanding of yourself."
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About the Author

Dr. Alice Roberts is an anatomist, osteoarchaeologist, anthropologist, television presenter, author, and professor at the University of Birmingham. She has presented The Incredible Human Journey and Coast on BBC 2 and Inside Science on Radio 4. She lives in Bristol with her husband and two children.


"Alice Roberts tells us about the most amazing story on the planet--the creation of the human animal. Nothing is more extraordinary and her guided tour of the human body takes us on a fascinating journey of self-discovery."--Desmond Morris, biologist, artist, and bestselling author of The Naked Ape "A masterful account of why our bodies are the way they are ...Roberts skilfully and knowledgeably weaves embryology, genetics, anatomy, evolution and zoology to tell the incredible story of the human body... It is in comparative anatomy that this book really shines ... Roberts's anatomical expertise is seductive... This is a scientifically robust book, packed with up-to-date and historical research, and in no way trivial. But it is a long distance from ponderous, and Roberts's lightness of touch is joyous, and celebratory."--Adam Rutherford, The Guardian "Roberts's engagingly personal style connects you to your ancestors, to your own personal beginnings as a single cell and, in a most attractive way, to herself as an author of great charm. From your brain to your fingertips, you emerge from her book entertained and with a deeper understanding of yourself."--Richard Dawkins, bestselling author of The Selfish Gene, The God Delusion, and The Magic of Reality

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