Fantasy disguised as science: a marvelous imaginary voyage through 20 million years of prehistory. Strickland is a retired operations research analyst with no professional training in either paleontology or anthropology, but he knows no fear. Armed with self-confidence and limitless ingenuity, he sets out to clear up all the confusion in academic minds over the origin and evolution of the human race. Our original ancestors, it seems, lived for 15 million years, give or take a million or so, in ""terrariums"" (watered areas in the Mediterranean basin, which was dry at that time), where, owing to the continual high temperatures, they lost most of their body hair. About five and a half million years ago the Atlantic Ocean burst through the Strait of Gibraltar, eventually isolating a group of these proto-humans on an unspecified island. There they were subject to intense pressures from natural selection, and as succeeding Ice Ages came and went, migratory hordes of ever more intelligent (and aggressive) apes left the island and spread out over the world. Strickland sketches this purely speculative scenario with plausible logic and vivid details. He especially delights in using it to explain the behavior and bodily appearance of homo sapiens sapiens. E.g., why do we have pubic hair? (Strickland is fascinated by hair.) Because of its ""species survival advantage"": females needed it to protect them from chafing and, ultimately, dangerous infection during the grim sexual marathons which they had to endure, owing to their disproportionately small numbers. Strickland is not a crackpot: he's done a lot of homework, and if he sometimes mils off the deep end, he's always fun to watch.