Thumbs, Toes, and Tears

Thumbs, Toes, and Tears Book Cover

Six traits, one species, a remarkable story …

“Fascinating and superbly written.” - Publishers Weekly

A fluid introduction to the development of the human species.” – Booklist

With a story teller’s skill Chip Walter urges us to see how great things come from small beginnings. He refreshingly points out that while ideas have consequences, so do big toes, opposable thumbs and four other human traits that, mostly, we take for granted… A fascinating read.” – Michael S. Gazzaniga Ph.D., Author The Ethical Brain.

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Thumbs, Toes & Tears – (From the Book Jacket)

The fascinating evolutionary links between six seemingly unremarkable traits that make us the very remarkable creatures we are.

Countless behaviors separate us from the rest of the animal kingdom, but all of them can be traced one way or another to six traits that are unique to the human race – our big toe, our opposable thumb, our oddly shaped pharynx, and our ability to laugh, kiss, and cry. At first glance these may not seem to be connected, but they are. Each marks a fork in the evolutionary road where we went one way and the rest of the animal kingdom went another, and each opens a small passageway to the peculiar geography of the human heart and mind.

Walter weaves together fascinating insights from complexity theory, the latest brain scanning techniques, anthropology, artificial intelligence, cognitive psychology, and robotics to explore how the smallest of changes over the past six million years – all shaped by the forces of evolution — have enabled a primate once on the brink of extinction to evolve into the creature that has created all of the grand and exuberant edifices of human culture.

As the story of each trait unfolds, Walter explains why our brains grew so large and complex, why we find one another sexually attractive, how toolmaking laid the mental groundwork for language, why we care about what others think, and how we became the creature that laughs and cries and falls in love. Thumbs, Toes and Tears is original, informative, and delightfully thought-provoking.

Read Excerpts from Thumbs, Toes and Tears

From Chapter Eight – Laughter

The prologue of Thumbs, Toes and Tears


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