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.
In a book that is both groundbreaking and accessible, Daniel C. Dennett, whom Chet Raymo of The Boston Globe calls one of the most provocative thinkers on the planet, focuses his unerringly logical mind on the theory of natural selection, showing how Darwin's great idea transforms and illuminates our traditional view of humanity's place in the universe. Dennett vividly describes the theory itself and then extends Darwin's vision with impeccable arguments to their often surprising conclusions, challenging the views of some of the most famous scientists of our day.
The well-known astronomer and astrobiologist surveys current knowledge of the development of intelligence on Earth in various forms of life and explains his persuasion that intelligence must have developed along similar paths throughout the universe
In this companion volume to the seven-part PBS series, an award-winning science writer tells the story of the theory of evolution, from Darwin's seminal insights to the cutting-edge developments in 21st century science that have confirmed and extended Darwin's theories.Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species was written long before paleontologists and geologists worked out the chronology of life on Earth, long before biologists uncovered the molecules that underlie heredity and natural selection. Author Carl Zimmer begins by allowing students to look over Darwin's shoulder as he reads the scientific theories of his day, studies at university, explores the natural world, and forms one of the most controversial scientific theories of all time. Featuring more than 150 color illustrations, this remarkable book presents a rich and up-to-date view that guides students through the evolution of Darwin's great theory and introduces them to the research of leading scholars in the life sciences such as Stephen Jay Gould, Sarah Hrdy, Mary-Claire King, and Steven Pinker. Students will see how many of Darwin's ideas have been vindicated, and how evolution also turns out to work in ways he never anticipated. In a rich narrative that will appeal to both science majors and nonmajors, Zimmer explores the far-reaching implications of Darwin's theory and emphasizes the power, significance, and relevance of evolution in our lives today. Afterall, we ourselves are the product of evolution, and we cannot tackle many of our gravest challenges-from the lethal resurgence of antibiotic resistant diseases to the wave of extinctions that looms before use-without a sound understanding of evolution. Beginning with an introduction by renowned paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould, Evolution provides the most up-to-date information on topics ranging from Darwinian medicine, sexual selection, and the origins of language to evolutionary psychology and the controversies surrounding creationism. With Evolution, your students will take part in a remarkable scientific journey, from the emergence to the triumph of an idea. The Evolution Project--a groundbreaking public television series and web site--offers teachers a free 40-page teacher's guide tied to state and national science high school biology curricula, and multimedia classroom resources such as online student lessons, short classroom videos, a web library, teacher methodology videos, and an online course for high school teachers to deepen teachers' understanding of evolutionary concepts and help them address obstacles to teaching evolution. For more information, and to order other educational resources or videos of the series, visit www.pbs.org/evolution.
At the Water's Edge will change the way you think about your place in the world. The awesome journey of life's transformation from the first microbes 4 billion years ago to Homo sapiens today is an epic that we are only now beginning to grasp. Magnificent and bizarre, it is the story of how we got here, what we left behind, and what we brought with us.
We all know about evolution, but it still seems absurd that our ancestors were fish. Darwin's idea of natural selection was the key to solving generation-to-generation evolution -- microevolution -- but it could only point us toward a complete explanation, still to come, of the engines of macroevolution, the transformation of body shapes across millions of years. Now, drawing on the latest fossil discoveries and breakthrough scientific analysis, Carl Zimmer reveals how macroevolution works. Escorting us along the trail of discovery up to the current dramatic research in paleontology, ecology, genetics, and embryology, Zimmer shows how scientists today are unveiling the secrets of life that biologists struggled with two centuries ago.
In this book, you will find a dazzling, brash literary talent and a rigorous scientific sensibility gracefully brought together. Carl Zimmer provides a comprehensive, lucid, and authoritative answer to the mystery of how nature actually made itself.
How did the replication bomb we call "life" begin and where in the world, or rather, in the universe, is it heading? Writing with characteristic wit and an ability to clarify complex phenomena (the New York Times described his style as "the sort of science writing that makes the reader feel like a genius"), Richard Dawkins confronts this ancient mystery.
From one of the world's leading natural scientists and the acclaimed author of Trilobite , Life: A Natural History of Four Billion Years of Life on Earth and Dry Storeroom No. 1 comes a fascinating chronicle of life's history told not through the fossil record but through the stories of organisms that have survived, almost unchanged, throughout time. Evolution, it seems, has not completely obliterated its tracks as more advanced organisms have evolved; the history of life on earth is far older--and odder--than many of us realize.Scattered across the globe, these remarkable plants and animals continue to mark seminal events in geological time. From a moonlit beach in Delaware, where the hardy horseshoe crab shuffles its way to a frenzy of mass mating just as it did 450 million years ago, to the dense rainforests of New Zealand, where the elusive, unprepossessing velvet worm has burrowed deep into rotting timber since before the breakup of the ancient supercontinent, to a stretch of Australian coastline with stromatolite formations that bear witness to the Precambrian dawn, the existence of these survivors offers us a tantalizing glimpse of pivotal points in evolutionary history. These are not "living fossils" but rather a handful of tenacious creatures of days long gone. Written in buoyant, sparkling prose, Horseshoe Crabs and Velvet Worms is a marvelously captivating exploration of the world's old-timers combining the very best of science writing with an explorer's sense of adventure and wonder.
Introducing Evolution explores evolutionary theory from its origins to its reception across history and how it has been developed and refined. Drawing on the latest findings from genetics, ecology, and animal behavior, it unravels the central and often misunderstood concepts, notably natural selection and the selfish gene.
Richard Dawkins transformed our view of God in his blockbuster, "The God Delusion, "which sold more than 2 million copies in English alone. He revolutionized the way we see natural selection in the seminal bestseller "The Selfish Gene." Now, he launches a fierce counterattack against proponents of "Intelligent Design" in his latest "New York Times "bestseller, "The Greatest Show on Earth." "Intelligent Design" is being taught in our schools; educators are being asked to "teach the controversy" behind evolutionary theory. There is no controversy. Dawkins sifts through rich layers of scientific evidence--from living examples of natural selection to clues in the fossil record; from natural clocks that mark the vast epochs wherein evolution ran its course to the intricacies of developing embryos; from plate tectonics to molecular genetics--to make the airtight case that "we find ourselves perched on one tiny twig in the midst of a blossoming and flourishing tree of life and it is no accident, but the direct consequence of evolution by non-random selection." His unjaded passion for the natural world turns what might have been a negative argument, exposing the absurdities of the creationist position, into a positive offering to the reader: nothing less than a master's vision of life, in all its splendor.