A copy of this was provided free of charge from the publisher in return for an honest review.

To say we have dominated the globe would be an understatement. We have conquered the highest mountains, reached deep into the oceans, become one of the few mammals that can fly and even been in the unique position of having had a select number of people leave the planet when they ventured into space. We tend to think of ourselves as exceptional, but are we? When you look at it from a bigger perspective, we are a single twig on a four-billion-year-old family tree that has countless species and lots of dead ends. All of these from a single origin with a code that is the very heart of our existence; DNA.

Rutherford considers all the things that make us distinctive such as speech and communication, tool creation, art, fire, social skills and how sex has gone beyond just being for procreation. But if you look hard enough at the other species that we share this world with you can find traces of these habits where they exist. There are examples of tool usage in other primates, birds and even dolphins. He explains how raptor in Australia have learnt to move fire from one part of the landscape to another and where weapons have been used by all sorts of animals. He discusses how the various types of sex that it was only thought that the human race participated in also exist in other creatures and it makes for grim reading at times.

Our genes are a map and a history of our past. Looking into its mysteries can show all sort of things, like where genes that affect language are and what they do, just how much of us is Neanderthal and how many bits of our DNA we have acquired from elsewhere. We have come to dominate the rest of the world though, even though our roots are common. Even though he is rooting through the history of our cells, this books is just what a pop science should be; accessible, understandable and intriguing enough to make you want to go and discover more about certain aspects of the text. Another book that is well worth reading from Adam Rutherford.

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