Winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize On a desert island in the heart of the Galapagos archipelago, where Darwin received his first inklings of the theory of evolution, two scientists, Peter and Rosemary Grant, have spent twenty years proving that Darwin did not know the strength of his own theory. For among the finches of Daphne Major, natural selection is neither rare nor slow: it is taking place by the hour, and we can watch. In this dramatic story of groundbreaking scientific research, Jonathan Weiner follows these scientists as they watch Darwin's finches and come up with a new understanding of life itself. The Beak of the Finch is an elegantly written and compelling masterpiece of theory and explication in the tradition of Stephen Jay Gould. With a new preface.
A Kirkus Reviews Book of the Year (Nonfiction)
Longlisted for the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence (Nonfiction)
From the most celebrated heir to Darwin comes a groundbreaking book on evolution, the summa work of Edward O. Wilson's legendary career.
About 550 million years ago, there was literally an explosion of life forms, as all the major animal groups suddenly and dramatically appeared. Although several books have been written about this surprising event, known as the Cambrian explosion, none has explained why it occurred. Indeed, none was able to. Here, for the first time, Oxford zoologist Andrew Parker reveals his theory of this great flourishing of life. Parker's controversial but increasingly accepted "Light Switch Theory" holds that it was the development of vision in primitive animals that caused the explosion. Drawing on evidence not just from biology, but also from geology, physics, chemistry, history, and art, In the Blink of an Eye is the fascinating account of a young scientist's intellectual journey, and a celebration of the scientific method.
A renowned biologist provides a sweeping chronicle of more than four billion years of life on Earth, shedding new light on evolutionary theory and history, sexual selection, speciation, extinction, genetics, and geographical dispersal.
A renowned scientist and author of The Selfish Gene provides a sweeping chronicle of more than four billion years of life on Earth, shedding new light on evolutionary theory and history, sexual selection, speciation, convergent evolution, extinction, genetics, plate tectonics, geographical dispersal, and other topics. Reprint.
Richard Dawkins' brilliant reformulation of the theory of natural selection has the rare distinction of having provoked as much excitement and interest outside the scientific community as within it. His theories have helped change the whole nature of the study of social biology, and have forced thousands of readers to rethink their beliefs about life.
In his internationally bestselling, now classic volume, The Selfish Gene, Dawkins explains how the selfish gene can also be a subtle gene. The world of the selfish gene revolves around savage competition, ruthless exploitation, and deceit, and yet, Dawkins argues, acts of apparent altruism do exist in nature. Bees, for example, will commit suicide when they sting to protect the hive, and birds will risk their lives to warn the flock of an approaching hawk.
This 30th anniversary edition of Dawkins' fascinating book retains all original material, including the two enlightening chapters added in the second edition. In a new Introduction the author presents his thoughts thirty years after the publication of his first and most famous book, while the inclusion of the two-page original Foreword by brilliant American scientist Robert Trivers shows the enthusiastic reaction of the scientific community at that time. This edition is a celebration of a remarkable exposition of evolutionary thought, a work that has been widely hailed for its stylistic brilliance and deep scientific insights, and that continues to stimulate whole new areas of research today.
Compelling evidence that the most important assumptions on which Darwinism rests are wrong.The controversial best-seller that sent Oxford University and Nature magazine into a frenzy has at last come to the United States. Shattering the Myths of Darwinism exposes the gaping holes in an ideology that has reigned unchallenged over the scientific world for a century. Darwinism is considered to be hard fact, the only acceptable explanation for the formation of life on Earth, but with keen insight and objectivity Richard Milton reveals that the theory totters atop a shambles of outdated and circumstantial evidence which in any less controversial field would have been questioned long ago. Sticking to the facts at hand and tackling a vast array of topics, Shattering the Myths of Darwinism offers compelling evidence that the theory of evolution has become an act of faith rather than a functioning science, and that not until the scientific method is applied to it and the right questions are asked will we ever get the true answers to the mystery of life on Earth.
Have you ever wondered why some men choose pornography over actual women? Why so many people watch Friends instead of going out with their own buddies? Why a person would "feed" a plastic Pocket Pet while shirking real duties? Why both sides of every war see the other as the aggressor against whom their "Department of Defense" must respond?
Harvard evolutionary psychologist Deirdre Barrett explains how human instincts--for food, sex, or territorial protection--developed for life on the savannah ten thousand years ago, not for today's world of densely populated cities, technological innovations, and pollution. Evolution, quite simply, has been unable to keep pace with the rapid changes of modern life. We now have access to a glut of larger-than-life objects--from candy to pornography to atomic bombs--that gratify outmoded but persistent drives with dangerous results.
In the 1930s Dutch Nobel laureate Niko Tinbergen found that birds that lay small, pale-blue eggs speckled with gray preferred to sit on giant, bright-blue, plaster dummies with black polka dots. He coined the term "supernormal stimuli" to describe these imitations that appeal to primitive instincts and, oddly, exert a stronger attraction than real things. Obviously these hard-wired preferences pose a danger to a species' survival. Barrett's singular insight is to apply this phenomenon for the first time to the alarming disconnect between human instinct and our created environment. Her book adroitly demonstrates how supernormal stimuli are a driving force in many of today's most pressing problems, including obesity, our addiction to television and video games, and the past century's extraordinarily violent wars. Man-made imitations, it turns out, have wreaked havoc on how we nurture our children, what food we put into our bodies, how we make love and war, and even how we understand ourselves.
Barrett does more than pull the fire alarm to show how these unfettered instincts fuel dangerous excesses. There is a hopeful message here as well. Once we recognize how supernormal stimuli operate, we can craft new approaches to modern predicaments. Humans have one stupendous advantage over Tinbergen's birds: a giant brain. The message of this book is that this gives us the unique ability to exercise self-control, override instincts that lead us astray, and save ourselves from civilization's gaudy traps.