Last Ape Standing (Hardcover)

The Seven-Million-Year Story of How and Why We Survived

By Chip Walter

Walker Books, 9780802717566, 240pp.

Publication Date: January 29, 2013

Other Editions of This Title:
Paperback (2/18/2014)

List Price: 26.00*
* Individual store prices may vary.


Over the past 180 years scientists have sifted through evidence that at least twenty-seven human species have evolved on planet Earth. And as you may have noticed, twenty-six of them are no longer with us, done in by their environment, predators, disease, or the unfortunate shortcomings of their DNA. What enabled us to survive when so many other human species were shown the evolutionary door? Last Ape Standing: The Seven-Million-Year Story of How and Why We Survived by acclaimed science journalist Chip Walter tells the intriguing tale of how against all odds and despite nature's brutal and capricious ways we stand here today, the only surviving humans, and the planet's most dominant species.

Drawing on a wide variety of scientific disciplines, Walter reveals how a rare evolutionary phenomenon led to the uniquely long childhoods that make us so resourceful and emotionally complex. He looks at why we developed a new kind of mind and how our highly social nature has shaped our moral (and immoral) behavior. And in exploring the traits that enabled our success, he plumbs the roots of our creativity and investigates why we became self-aware in ways that no other animal is. Along the way, Last Ape Standing profiles other human species who evolved with us and who have also shaped our kind in startling ways - the Neanderthals of Europe, the "Hobbits" of Indonesia, the Denisovans of Siberia, and the recently discovered Red Deer Cave people of China, who died off just as we stood at the brink of civilizations eleven thousand years ago.

Last Ape Standing is an engaging and accessible story that explores the forces that molded us into the peculiar and astonishing creature that we are.

About the Author

Chip Walter is the founder of the popular website, a former CNN bureau chief, feature film screenwriter, PBS documentary filmmaker, and author-in-residence at the Mellon Institute at Carnegie Mellon University. His articles have appeared in the Boston Globe, the Economist, Discover, Scientific American, and numerous other publications and websites. He is author of three books and his writing has been published in six languages. He lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Praise For Last Ape Standing: The Seven-Million-Year Story of How and Why We Survived

“Chip Walter's Last Ape Standing is provocative, insightful and engaging; a rare trifecta among science books. Nearly every page offers something that will surprise or intrigue you.” —Ray Kurzweil, inventor, futurist, and author of How to Create a Mind: The Secret of Human Thought Revealed

“I read Last Ape Standing while sitting, then I jumped up and cheered. It's that good!” —William Shatner

“The saga of human evolution is far from a straight line from ape to angel, with all but one of many species going extinct. Chip Walter's thoroughly enjoyable new book considers the evolutionary and social forces that crafted us, modern humans, and presents an intriguing scenario of why Homo sapiens is the Last Ape Standing.” —Donald Johanson, discoverer of Lucy and founding director of the Institute of Human Origins at Arizona State University

“This book has a way of making you feel magnificently insignificant and at the same time an essential, vital part of the chain of human evolution. Just when you thought you were fully evolved as a human.....think again. Mind blowing stuff!” —Michael Keaton

“[An] engrossing, up-to-date account of human evolution.” —Kirkus

“[A] captivating and informative field trip through man's paleontological exceptionally well-written overview of man's evolutionary history as well as an accessible guide to the underappreciated field of paleoanthropology.” —Booklist

“Whether reading as a student or simply somone interested in how we came to be who we are today, Last Ape Standing provides a captivating look at science's evidence of evolution.” —ShelfAwareness

“[An] engaging accounts...shed[s] a fascinating light on our evolutionary success.” —New Yorker

“Chip Walter has made himself indispensable to audiences craving the latest information about our evolutionary past. No one wrties about early man, evolutionary dead ends or our pre-human rivals better than Chip Walter. If all science books were this witty and well-written, everyone would be a nerd.” —Pittsburgh Post Gazette

“Walter takes an antic delight in the triumphal adaptations and terrifying near misses of human evolution...Last Ape Standing makes for a lively journey.” —New York Times Book Review