The Incredible Unlikeliness of Being

Evolution and the Making of Us

By Alice Roberts

Evolution, Development


Published by Heron

Shortlist 2015

Alice Roberts takes us on the most incredible journey in nature, revealing our path from a single cell to a complex embryo to a living, breathing, thinking person.

'The Incredible Unlikeliness of Being' gives us a new and highly accessible look at our own bodies, allowing us to understand how we develop as an embryo, from a single egg into a complex body, and how our embryos contain echoes of our evolutionary past.

Bringing together the latest scientific discoveries, Alice Roberts illustrates that evolution has made something which is far from perfect. Our bodies are a quirky mix of new and old, with strokes of genius alongside glitches and imperfections which are all inherited from distant ancestors. Our development and evolutionary past explains why, as embryos, we have what look like gills, and why, as adults, we suffer from back pain.

This is a tale of discovery, not only exploring why and how we have developed as we have, but also looking at the history of our anatomical understanding. It combines the remarkable skills and qualifications Roberts has as a doctor, anatomist, osteoarchaeologist and writer. Above all, she has a rare ability to make science accessible, relevant and interesting to mainstream audiences and readers.


The Incredible Unlikeliness of Being by Alice Roberts | Wellcome Book Prize 2015 Shortlist

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