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.
Referring to Lewis Carroll's Red Queen from Through the Looking-Glass, a character who has to keep running to stay in the same place, Matt Ridley demonstrates why sex is humanity's best strategy for outwitting its constantly mutating internal predators. The Red Queen answers dozens of other riddles of human nature and culture -- including why men propose marriage, the method behind our maddening notions of beauty, and the disquieting fact that a woman is more likely to conceive a child by an adulterous lover than by her husband. Brilliantly written, The Red Queen offers an extraordinary new way of interpreting the human condition and how it has evolved.
When did the human species turn against the planet that we depend on for survival? Human industry and consumption of resources have altered the climate, polluted the water and soil, destroyed ecosystems, and rendered many species extinct, vastly increasing the likelihood of an ecological catastrophe. How did humankind come to rule nature to such an extent? To regard the planet's resources and creatures as ours for the taking? To find ourselves on a seemingly relentless path toward ecocide?
In After Eden, Kirkpatrick Sale answers these questions in a radically new way. Integrating research in paleontology, archaeology, and anthropology, he points to the beginning of big-game hunting as the origin of Homo sapiens' estrangement from the natural world. Sale contends that a new, recognizably modern human culture based on the hunting of large animals developed in Africa some 70,000 years ago in response to a fierce plunge in worldwide temperature triggered by an enormous volcanic explosion in Asia. Tracing the migration of populations and the development of hunting thousands of years forward in time, he shows that hunting became increasingly adversarial in relation to the environment as people fought over scarce prey during Europe's glacial period between 35,000 and 10,000 years ago. By the end of that era, humans' idea that they were the superior species on the planet, free to exploit other species toward their own ends, was well established.
After Eden is a sobering tale, but not one without hope. Sale asserts that Homo erectus, the variation of the hominid species that preceded Homo sapiens and survived for nearly two million years, did not attempt to dominate the environment. He contends that vestiges of this more ecologically sound way of life exist today-in some tribal societies, in the central teachings of Hinduism and Buddhism, and in the core principles of the worldwide environmental movement-offering redemptive possibilities for ourselves and for the planet.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Presents a philosophy that unifies evolution and religion, discussing evolution as a divine process, how to use insights derived from evolution to improve spiritual life, and how to work for systemic change within this framework.