From the prize-winning author of Adventures in the Anthropocene, the astonishing story of how culture enabled us to become the most successful species on Earth
Humans are the most successful species on Earth; a planet-altering force of nature. Meanwhile, our closest living relatives, the now-endangered chimpanzees, continue to live as they have for millions of years. Yet we evolved through the same process. What are we then? And now we have remade the world, what are we becoming?
Setting out to answer this question, Gaia Vince retells our evolution story. Unlike any other species on earth we determine the course of our own destiny, something that she argues rests on a special relationship between our genes, environment and culture going back into deep time. It is our collective culture, rather than our individual intelligence, that makes humans unique. Vince shows how our four evolutionary drivers - Fire, Language, Beauty and Time - are further transforming our species into a superorganism: a hyper-cooperative mass of humanity that she calls Homo omnis, or 'Homni'. Drawing on cutting-edge advances in population genetics, archaeology, palaeontology and neuroscience, Transcendence compels us to reimagine ourselves, showing us to be on the brink of something grander - and potentially more destructive.
To think of humans as a smarter sort of chimp with cool tools is to miss what is truly extraordinary about us. Look around you: we are the intelligent designers of all you see - including ourselves.
Gaia Vince is a science writer and broadcaster interested in the interplay between humans and the planetary environment. She has held senior editorial posts at Nature and New Scientist, and her writing has featured in newspapers and magazines including the Guardian, The Times and Scientific American. She also writes and presents science programmes for radio and television. Her research takes her across the world: she has visited more than 60 countries, lived in three and is currently based in London. In 2015, she became the first woman to win the Royal Society Science Book of the Year Prize solo for her debut, Adventures in the Anthropocene: A Journey to the Heart of the Planet We Made. She blogs at WanderingGaia.com and tweets at @WanderingGaia.