This book covers the crucial role of evolutionary biology in transforming our view of human origins and relation to the universe, and its impact on traditional philosophy and religion. Furthermore, it explains the most important basic findings and procedures in the area, and how it has developed since the first publications of Darwin and Wallace 150 years ago 1. Introduction 2. The Processes of Evolution 3. The Evidence for Evolution: Similarities and Differences Between Organisms 4. The Evidence for Evolution: Patterns in Time and Space 5. Adaptation and Natural Selection 6. The Formation and Divergence of Species 7. Some Difficult Problems Further Reading Less than 450 years ago, all European scholars believed that the earth was the centre of a universe that was at most a few million miles in extent, and that the planets, sun, and stars all rotated around this centre. Less than 250 years ago, they believed that the universe was created essentially in its present state about 6000 years ago. Less than 150 years ago, the special creation by God of living species was still dominant.The relentless application of the scientific method of inference from experiment and observation, without reference to religious, or governmental authority has completely transformed our view of our origins and relation to the universe, in less than 500 years. Few would dispute that this programme has been spectacularly successful, particularly in the twentieth century.This book is about the crucial role of evolutionary biology in transforming our view of human origins and relation to the universe, and the impact of this idea on traditional philosophy and religion. The purpose of this book is to introduce the general reader to some of the most important basic findings, concepts, and procedures of evolutionary biology, as it has developed since the first publications of Darwin and Wallace on the subject, over 140 years ago. Evolution provides a unifying set o
Neil Shubin, the paleontologist and professor of anatomy who co-discovered Tiktaalik, the "fish with hands," tells the story of our bodies as you've never heard it before. The basis for the PBS series.By examining fossils and DNA, he shows us that our hands actually resemble fish fins, our heads are organized like long-extinct jawless fish, and major parts of our genomes look and function like those of worms and bacteria. Your Inner Fish makes us look at ourselves and our world in an illuminating new light. This is science writing at its finest--enlightening, accessible and told with irresistible enthusiasm.
The recent discovery of the diminutive Homo floresiensis (nicknamed "the Hobbit") in Indonesia has sparked new interest in the study of human evolution. In this Very Short Introduction, renowned evolutionary scholar Bernard Wood traces the history of paleoanthropology from its beginnings in the eighteenth century to today's latest fossil finds. Along the way we are introduced to the lively cast of characters, past and present, involved in evolutionary research. Although concentrating on the fossil evidence for human evolution, the book also covers the latest genetic evidence about regional variations in the modern human genome that relate to our evolutionary history. Wood draws on over thirty years of experience to provide an insiders view of the field, 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. This is an ideal introduction for anyone interested in the origins and development of humankind.
Evolution is not merely the process that ruled the rise and fall of the dinosaurs over hundreds of millions of years. It also happens rapidly, so quickly and so frequently that it changes how all of us live our lives. Drugs fail because diseases like HIV and tuberculosis evolve in a matter of months, neatly sidestepping pharmacology. Insects adapt and render harmless the most powerful pesticides in a matter of years, not centuries. While the ecological impact of human technology has been well publicized, the evolutionary consequences of antibiotic and antiviral use, insecticide applications, and herbicide bioengineering have been largely unexplored. In "The Evolution Explosion," Stephen R. Palumbi examines these practical and critical aspects of modern evolution with a simple, yet forceful style that contains both an urgent message and a sense of humor.
From one of the most significant neuroscientists at work today, a pathbreaking investigation of a question that has confounded philosophers, psychologists, and neuroscientists for centuries: how is consciousness created?
Antonio Damasio has spent the past thirty years studying and writing about how the brain operates, and his work has garnered acclaim for its singular melding of the scientific and the humanistic. In "Self Comes to Mind, " he goes against the long-standing idea that consciousness is somehow separate from the body, presenting compelling new scientific evidence that consciousness--what we think of as a mind with a self--is to begin with a biological process created by a living organism. Besides the three traditional perspectives used to study the mind (the introspective, the behavioral, and the neurological), Damasio introduces an evolutionary perspective that entails a radical change in the way the history of conscious minds is viewed and told. He also advances a radical hypothesis regarding the origins and varieties of feelings, which is central to his framework for the biological construction of consciousness: feelings are grounded in a near fusion of body and brain networks, and first emerge from the historically old and humble brain stem rather than from the modern cerebral cortex.
Damasio suggests that the brain's development of a human self becomes a challenge to nature's indifference and opens the way for the appearance of culture, a radical break in the course of evolution and the source of a new level of life regulation--sociocultural homeostasis. He leaves no doubt that the blueprint for the work-in-progress he calls sociocultural homeostasis is the genetically well-established basic homeostasis, the curator of value that has been present in simple life-forms for billions of years. "Self Comes to Mind" is a groundbreaking journey into the neurobiological foundations of mind and self.
In this "artful, informative, and delightful" (William H. McNeill, New York Review of Books) book, Jared Diamond convincingly argues that geographical and environmental factors shaped the modern world. Societies that had had a head start in food production advanced beyond the hunter-gatherer stage, and then developed religion --as well as nasty germs and potent weapons of war --and adventured on sea and land to conquer and decimate preliterate cultures. A major advance in our understanding of human societies, Guns, Germs, and Steel chronicles the way that the modern world came to be and stunningly dismantles racially based theories of human history. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, the Phi Beta Kappa Award in Science, the Rhone-Poulenc Prize, and the Commonwealth club of California's Gold Medal.
A close-up look at the new science of evolutionary psychology explains how scientists use the theories of natural selection to understand human behavior and discusses the significance of evolutionary psychology to everyday, modern life
A provocative alternate history of humanity's ancient ancestry and the evolution of human nature draws on ground-breaking scientific findings to offer insight into such debated issues as the evolution of language and race, the domestication of companion animals, and the defeat of the Neanderthals.
DNA, the genetic blueprint of all creatures, is a stunningly rich and detailed record of evolution. Every change or new trait, from the gaudy colors of tropical birds to our color vision with which we admire them, is due to changes in DNA that leave a record and can be traced. Just as importantly, the DNA evidence has revealed several profound surprises about how evolution actually works.
Cites five previous mass extinctions on the planet while explaining that the human race may be the first to trigger its own destruction through irresponsible practices