New book due out next month, by Robert Fogel, on the speeded-up evolution of humans, The Changing Body: Health, Nutrition, and Human Development in the Western World Since 1700.
If that sounds like a mouthful, and probably dry, a few quotes to whet your appetite:
From the pre-review at The New Yorker, by Patricia Cohen:
"To take just a few examples, the average adult man in 1850 in America stood about 5 feet 7 inches and weighed about 146 pounds; someone born then was expected to live until about 45. In the 1980s the typical man in his early 30s was about 5 feet 10 inches tall, weighed about 174 pounds and was likely to pass his 75th birthday.
Across the Atlantic, at the time of the French Revolution, a 30-something Frenchman weighed about 110 pounds, compared with 170 pounds now. And in Norway an average 22-year-old man was about 5 ½ inches taller at the end of the 20th century (5 feet 10.7 inches) than in the middle of the 18th century (5 feet 5.2 inches)."
Fogel apparently attributes most of this to diet, and one has to figure in medical care, but I find this kind of stuff fascinating.