Eve: How the Female Body Drove 200 Million Years of Human Evolution by Cat Bohannon - review by Wendy Moore

Wendy Moore

In the Beginning was the Womb

Eve: How the Female Body Drove 200 Million Years of Human Evolution


Hutchinson Heinemann 612pp £25 order from our bookshop

We are endlessly fascinated by nature documentaries revealing the remarkable behaviour of the animals that share our planet. And yet most of us know strikingly little about the evolution of our own species and, specifically, almost nothing about how men and women evolved differently.

An evolutionary scientist and writer, Cat Bohannon has set out to put matters right with this punchy and utterly compelling book, which not only traces the evolutionary paths of our male and female ancestors over the past 200 million years but also argues that the way female bodies changed during that time made us who we are today: mankind is essentially womankind. Along the way, she scatters explosive facts about our human ancestors, their animal cousins and our modern selves like miniature grenades. Rarely have I read a book in which every page brims with such astounding revelations.

Science has paid little attention to the way female bodies differ from male ones until relatively recently. In clinical trials, the male body is the norm, whether the subjects are mice or men. Between 1996 and 2006, roughly 80 per cent of studies in the scientific journal Pain

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