An Evolutionary Banquet

Chapter 5 of Brian Fagan’s excellent Cro-Magnon opens with the following quotation from the paleontologist Björn Kurtén:

“Imagine a dinner table set for a thousand guests, in which each man is sitting between his own father and his own son. At one end of the table might be a French Nobel laureate in a white tie and tails, and with the Legion of Honor on his breast, and at the other end a Cro-Magnon man dressed in animal skins and with a necklace of cave-bear teeth. Yet each one would be able to converse with his neighbors on his left and right, who would either be his father or his son. So the distance from then to now is not really great.”

It’s a similar conceit to the Evolution Stadium described by Richard Wrangham in Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human, which remains one of the most thought-provoking books I’ve read.


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