TITLE: The Incredible Unlikeliness of Being: Evolution and the Making of Us
AUTHOR: Alice Roberts
PUBLICATION DATE: 2014
From the blurb:
"Alice Roberts takes you on the most incredible journey, revealing your path from a single cell to a complex embryo to a living, breathing, thinking person. It's a story that connects us with our distant ancestors and an extraordinary, unlikely chain of events that shaped human development and left a mark on all of us. Alice Roberts uses the latest research to uncover the evolutionary history hidden in all of us, from the secrets found only in our embryos and genes - including why as embryos we have what look like gills - to those visible in your anatomy. This is a tale of discovery, exploring why and how we have developed as we have. This is your story, told as never before."
This book covers the fascinating story of how a human body develops, from gametes to fully formed baby. Each chapter covers a specific segment of the body, explaining how it forms (in terms of genes and structure) and gives an evolutionary background for why it developed like that and not some other way, and also sometimes how that particular body part works (especially in terms of feet and hands). Roberts has a lovely writing style and clearly explains what happens when; with minimal intrusions of personal anecdotes. The book contains a large number of diagrams to help explain some of the technical physiological terminology, and there is a great deal of it. Each piece of anatomy is usually referred to by its proper name, which might make the book too complicated for some readers? Personally I enjoyed the lesson in embryology, anthropology and evolution, and appreciated the scientific details and lack of vagueness.
Your Inner Fish: A Journey Into the 3.5-Billion-Year History of the Human Body by Neil Shubin is an easier (and simpler) book to read, but the The Incredible Unlikeliness of Being by Alice Roberts provides more specific embryological details.