Evolution

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    In The Greatest Show on Earth Richard Dawkins takes on creationists, including followers of 'Intelligent Design' and all those who question the fact of evolution through natural selection. Like a detective arriving on the scene of a crime, he sifts through fascinating layers of scientific facts and disciplines to build a cast-iron case: from the living examples of natural selection in birds and insects; the 'time clocks' of trees and radioactive dating that calibrate a timescale for evolution; the fossil record and the traces of our earliest ancestors; to confirmation from molecular biology and genetics. All of this, and much more, bears witness to the truth of evolution.

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    'can we doubt ...that individuals having any advantage, however slight, over others, would have the best chance of surviving and of procreating their kind?' In the Origin of Species (1859) Darwin challenged many of the most deeply held beliefs of the Western world. His insistence on the immense length of the past and on the abundance of life-forms, present and extinct, dislodged man from his central position in creation and called into question the role of the Creator. He showed that new species are achieved by natural selection, and that absence of plan is an inherent part of the evolutionary process. Darwin's prodigious reading, experimentation, and observations on his travels fed into his great work, which draws on material from the Galapagos Islands to rural Staffordshire, from English back gardens to colonial encounters. The present edition provides a detailed and accessible discussion of his theories and adds an account of the immediate responses to the book on publication. The resistances as well as the enthusiasms of the first readers cast light on recent controversies, particularly concerning questions of design and descent.
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    Acclaimed as the most influential work on evolution written in the last hundred years, "The Blind Watchmaker" offers an inspiring and accessible introduction to one of the most important scientific discoveries of all time. A brilliant and controversial book, which demonstrates that evolution by natural selection - the unconscious, automatic, blind, yet essentially non-random process discovered by Darwin - is the only answer to the biggest question of all: why do we exist?
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    Powerful new research methods are providing fresh and vivid insights into the makeup of life. Comparing gene sequences, examining the atomic structure of proteins and looking into the geochemistry of rocks have all helped to explain creation and evolution in more detail than ever before. Nick Lane uses the full extent of this new knowledge to describe the ten greatest inventions of life, including DNA, sex, sight and consciousness, based on their historical impact, role in living organisms today and relevance to current controversies. Lane also explains how these findings have come about, and the extent to which they can be relied upon. The result is a vivid, gripping and lucid account of the ingenuity of nature, and a book which is essential for anyone who has wondered at how we came to be here.
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    The presenter of BBC's The Incredible Human Journey 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, Professor 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 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 Alice 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.
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    The Origin of Species may be the most famous book in science but its stature tends to obscure much of Charles Darwin's other works. His visit to the Galapagos lasted just five weeks and on his return he never left Britain again. Darwin spent forty years working on the plants, animals and people of his native land and wrote over six million words on topics as different as dogs, insect-eating plants, orchids, earthworms, apes and human emotion. Together they laid the foundations of modern biology. In this beautifully written, witty and illuminating book, Steve Jones explores the domestic Darwin, tracing the great naturalist's journey across Britain: a voyage not of the body, but of the mind.
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    In 1859, Charles Darwin shocked the world with a radical theory - evolution by natural selection. One hundred and fifty years later, his theory still challenges some of our most precious beliefs. "Introducing Evolution" provides a step-by-step guide to 'Darwin's dangerous idea' and takes a fresh look at the often misunderstood concepts of natural selection and the selfish gene. Drawing on the latest findings from genetics, ecology and animal behaviour - as well as the work of best-selling science writers such as Richard Dawkins and Steven Pinker - a string of brilliant examples, superbly illustrated by Howard Selina, reveals how the evidence in favour of evolutionary theory is stronger than ever. With wit and clarity, Dylan Evans addresses many puzzling issues: Did life first evolve on other planets? What's the advantage of having sex? Why do your parents look after you? And what good to a bird is half a wing? From the death of the dinosaurs to the development of digital organisms, "Introducing Evolution" brings Darwin up-to-date with the latest scientific discoveries. This is the ideal guide to the most important idea ever to appear in the history of science.
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    This is a groundbreaking attack on the most influential scientific orthodoxy of the last 150 years. Jerry Fodor and Massimo Piatelli-Palmarini, a distinguished philosopher and scientist working in tandem, reveal major flaws at the heart of Darwinian evolutionary theory. They do not deny Darwin's status as an outstanding scientist but question the inferences he drew from his observations. Combining the results of cutting-edge work in experimental biology with crystal-clear philosophical argument they mount a devastating critique of the central tenets of Darwin's account of the origin of species. The logic underlying natural selection is the survival of the fittest under changing environmental pressure. This logic, they argue, is mistaken. They back up the claim with evidence of what actually happens in nature. This is a rare achievement - the short book that is likely to make a great deal of difference to a very large subject. "What Darwin Got Wrong" will be controversial. The authors' arguments will reverberate through the scientific world. At the very least they will transform the debate about evolution.
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    Evolution: The Whole Story contains everything you need to know about the development and survival of life on Earth. Each chapter of this accessible and lavishly illustrated book takes a major living group and presents thematic essays discussing the evolution of particular subgroups as they appeared on Earth with reference to detailed comparative anatomy, evolutionary legacies, and the breakthrough theories of eminent scientists. Accompanying the essays are amazing photographic features that investigate the characteristics of individual organisms in detail: in some, remarkable fossils, assembled skeletons, and lifelike reconstructions are presented and analyzed; while in others, living species are depicted and compared in detail to their direct ancestors, creatures that may have lived millions of years ago.
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    A seminal historic work that has never been out of print, this book contains the text of the sixth edition, the last edition published during Darwin's lifetime and the last to include his own amendments. With over 100 contemporary natural history illustrations, many drawn from the findings of the seminal Beagle voyage, this is a world-changing text read by millions of people that continues to be at the heart of debate on the origin and evolution of mankind. The text is preceded by a detailed introduction to Darwin's life and work, setting out the major themes that follow and describing their impact. Highly illustrated with attractive contemporary images, this book contains a detailed contents, glossary and index to enable the reader to find their way about the work.
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    A magisterial exploration of the natural history of the first four thousand million years of life on and in the earth, by one of Britain's most dazzling science writers. What do any of us know about the history of our planet before the arrival of man? Most of us have a dim impression of a swirling mass of dust solidifying to form a volcanic globe, briefly populated by dinosaurs, then by woolly mammoths and finally by our own hairy ancestors. This book, aimed at the curious and intelligent but perhaps mildly uninformed reader, brilliantly dispels such lingering notions forever. At the end of the book we understand the complexity of the history of life on earth, and the complexity of how it has come to be understood, as, perhaps, from no other single volume. The result is enthralling.
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    In The Story of the Human Body, Daniel Lieberman, Professor of human evolutionary biology at Harvard, shows how we need to change our world to fit our hunter-gatherer bodies. This ground-breaking book of popular science explores how the way we use our bodies is all wrong. From an evolutionary perspective, if normal is defined as what most people have done for millions of years, then it's normal to walk and run 9 -15 kilometres a day to hunt and gather fresh food which is high in fibre, low in sugar, and barely processed. It's also normal to spend much of your time nursing, napping, making stone tools, and gossiping with a small band of people. Our 21st-century lifestyles, argues Daniel Lieberman, are out of synch with our stone-age bodies. Never have we been so healthy and long-lived - but never, too, have we been so prone to a slew of problems that were, until recently, rare or unknown, from asthma, to diabetes, to - scariest of all - overpopulation. The Story of the Human Body asks how our bodies got to be the way they are, and considers how that evolutionary history - both ancient and recent - can help us evaluate how we use our bodies. How is the present-day state of the human body related to the past? And what is the human body's future? "Monumental. The Story of the Human Body, by one of our leading experts, takes us on an epic voyage". (Neil Shubin, author of Your Inner Fish). "Riveting, enlightening, and more than a little frightening". (Christopher McDougall, author of Born to Run). Daniel Lieberman is the Chair of the Department of Human Evolutionary Biology at Harvard and a leader in the field. He has written nearly 100 articles, many appearing in the journals Nature and Science, and his cover story on barefoot running in Nature was picked up by major media the world over. His research and discoveries have been highlighted in newspapers and magazines, including The New York Times, Boston Globe, Discover, and National Geographic.
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    Why have creatures evolved as they are? Which species have been the most successful? How do life forms adapt to a world dominated by nearly seven billion humans? Christopher Lloyd leads us on an exhilarating journey from the birth of life to the present day, as he attempts to answer these fundamental questions. Along the way, he reveals the stories of the 100 most influential species that have ever lived, from slime, dragonflies, and dung beetles to dogs, yeast, and bananas. These 100 species are scored and ranked in order of their impact on the planet, life and people. "What on Earth Evolved ...in Brief?" is a lively and eye-opening insight into mankind's place in nature, and our pivotal relationship with the Earth itself: past, present and future.
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    The river of Dawkins's title is a river of DNA, flowing through time from the beginning of life on earth to the present - and onwards. Dawkins explains that DNA must be thought of as the most sophisticated information system imaginable: 'Life is just bytes and bytes of information,' he writes. Using this perspective, he describes the mechanisms by which evolution has taken place, gradually but inexorably, over a period of three thousand million years. It is the story of how evolution happens, rather than a narrative of what has actually happened in evolution. He discusses current views on the process of human evolution, including the idea that we all trace back to a comparatively recent African 'Eve', and speculates that the 'information explosion' that was unleashed on Earth when DNA came into being has almost certainly happened in other places in the universe.
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    What makes us human? How did we develop language, thought and culture? Why did we survive, and other human species fail? Robin Dunbar is an evolutionary psychologist and former director of the Institute of Cognitive and Evolutionary Anthropology at Oxford University. His acclaimed books include How Many Friends Does One Person Need? and Grooming, Gossip and the Evolution of Language, described by Malcolm Gladwell as 'a marvellous work of popular science.'
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    Darwin's theory of natural selection was a monumental step in our understanding of evolution, explaining how useful adaptations are preserved over generations. However, Darwin's great idea didn't - and couldn't - tell us how those adaptations arise in the first place. On its own, can random mutation really be responsible for all the creative marvels in nature? Renowned evolutionary biologist Andreas Wagner presents the missing piece of Darwin's theory. Using cutting-edge experimental technologies, he has found that adaptations are driven by a set of laws which allow nature to discover new molecules and mechanisms in a fraction of the time that random variation would take. Meticulously researched, carefully argued, and full of fascinating examples from the animal kingdom, Arrival of the Fittest signals an end to the mystery of life's rich diversity.
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    Human domination of our earth is now so complete that it is easy to forget how recently our role in the history of our planet began: the earliest apes evolved around 20 million years ago, yet homo sapiens has existed for a mere 160,000 years. In the intervening period, dozens of species of early ape and human have lived and died out, leaving behind the fossilized remains that have helped to build up the detailed picture of our evolution revealed in this book, which has been thoroughly revised throughout and is newly available in paperback. It explores every aspect of the study of ape and human evolution in three accessible sections, lavishly illustrated throughout with photographs, diagrams, timelines and specially commissioned drawings. This compelling and authoritative account is essential reading for anyone interested in, or studying, the story of human origins.
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    Spectacular, mysterious, elegant, or grotesque, the vertebrate skeletons of Earth's fossil record carry within them the traces of several billion years of life. "Evolution in Action", a resounding success on its initial publication in 2007, is a unique and beautiful attempt to provide a map of those billion years in time. Now updated and presented in a smaller format with seventeen new utterly distinctive photographs, this book steps beyond the debate and presents the undeniable truth of Darwin's theory, showing through 200 photographs of skeletons both obscure and commonplace, but always intriguing, the process by which life has transformed itself, again and again.
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    This Very Short Introduction traces the history of paleoanthropology from its beginnings in the eighteenth century to the latest fossil finds. Although concentrating on the fossil evidence for human evolution, it also covers the latest genetic evidence about regional variations in the modern human genome that relate to our evolutionary history. Bernard Wood draws on over thirty years of experience to provide an insider's view of the field and some of the personalities in it, and demonstrates that our understanding of human evolution is critically dependent on advances in related sciences such as paleoclimatology, geochronology, systematics, genetics, and developmental biology. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.
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    "When it comes to human evolution Chris Stringer is as close to the horse's mouth as it gets..."The Origin of Our Species" should be the one-stop source on the subject. Read it now". ("BBC Focus"). Do all humans originate from Africa? How did we spread across the globe? Are we separate from Neanderthals, or do some of us actually have their genes? When did humans become 'modern' - are traits such as art, technology, language, ritual and belief unique to us? Has human evolution stopped, or are we still evolving? Chris Stringer has been involved in much of the crucial research into the origins of humanity, and here he draws on a wealth of evidence - from fossils and archaeology to the mysteries of ancient DNA - to reveal the definitive story of where we came from, how we lived, how we got here and who we are.
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    When did the first humans arrive in Britain? Where did they come from? And what did they look like? This is the amazing story of human life in Britain. It begins nearly one million years ago, during the earliest known human occupation, and reveals how humans have periodically lived there ever since. Britain: One Million Years of the Human Story takes readers on an incredible journey through ancient Britain. Drawing on a wealth of evidence from archaeological sites, it reveals which human species lived in Britain during multiple waves of occupation. It describes who they were, what their habitats were like, which animals shared their landscape, and what they did to survive, from the first use of fire to specialised hunting. It shows how Britain's human occupants changed, adapting and often succumbing to dramatically changing climate and landscapes. The story is told by Rob Dinnis and Chris Stringer, two scientists at the forefront of research into our ancient ancestors. Together they describe the discoveries, the key fossil specimens and the science behind these remarkable findings. Written in a lively and engaging style, and fully illustrated with maps, diagrams and photographs, Britain: One Million Years of the Human Story is an invaluable guide to our early human relatives. The book is based on the ground-breaking work of the Ancient Human Occupation of Britain project and is published to tie in with a major new exhibition opening at the Natural History Museum in February 2014.
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    Over the last half a billion years, there have been five mass extinctions of life on earth. Scientists around the world are currently monitoring the sixth, predicted to be the most devastating extinction event since the asteroid impact that wiped out the dinosaurs. Elizabeth Kolbert combines brilliant field reporting, the history of ideas and the work of geologists, botanists and marine biologists to tell the gripping stories of a dozen species - including the Panamanian golden frog and the Sumatran rhino - some already gone, others at the point of vanishing. The sixth extinction is likely to be mankind's most lasting legacy and Elizabeth Kolbert's book urgently compels us to rethink the fundamental question of what it means to be human.
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    Perhaps the most influential science book ever written, On the Origin of Species has continued to fascinate readers for more than a century after its initial publication. Its controversial theory that populations evolve and adapt through a process known as natural selection led to heated scientific, philosophical and religious debate, revolutionizing every discipline in its wake. With its clear, concise and surprisingly enjoyable prose, On the Origin of Species is both captivating and edifying.
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    Paris at the time of the French Revolution was the world capital of science. Its scholars laid the foundations of today's physics, chemistry and biology. They were true revolutionaries: agents of an upheaval both of understanding and of politics. Many had an astonishing breadth of talents. The Minister of Finance just before the upheaval did research on crystals and the spread of animal disease. After it, Paris's first mayor was an astronomer, the general who fought off invaders was a mathematician while Marat, a major figure in the Terror, saw himself as a leading physicist. Paris in the century around 1789 saw the first lightning conductor, the first flight, the first estimate of the speed of light and the invention of the tin can and the stethoscope. The metre replaced the yard and the theory of evolution came into being. The city was saturated in science and many of its monuments still are. The Eiffel Tower, built to celebrate the Revolution's centennial, saw the world's first wind-tunnel and first radio message, and first observation of cosmic rays. Perhaps the greatest Revolutionary scientist of all, Antoine Lavoisier, founded modern chemistry and physiology, transformed French farming, and much improved gunpowder manufacture. His political activities brought him a fortune, but in the end led to his execution. The judge who sentenced him - and many other researchers - claimed that 'the Revolution has no need for geniuses'. In this enthralling and timely book Steve Jones shows how wrong this was and takes a sideways look at Paris, its history, and its science, to give a dazzling new insight into the City of Light.