Fate, Chance, and the Future of Evolution
Author: Jonathan B. Losos
A major new book overturning our assumptions about how evolution works Earth’s natural history is full of fascinating instances of convergence: phenomena like eyes and wings and tree-climbing lizards that have evolved independently, multiple times. But evolutionary biologists also point out many examples of contingency, cases where the tiniest change—a random mutation or an ancient butterfly sneeze—caused evolution to take a completely different course. What role does each force really play in the constantly changing natural world? Are the plants and animals that exist today, and we humans ourselves, inevitabilities or evolutionary flukes? And what does that say about life on other planets? Jonathan Losos reveals what the latest breakthroughs in evolutionary biology can tell us about one of the greatest ongoing debates in science. He takes us around the globe to meet the researchers who are solving the deepest mysteries of life on Earth through their work in experimental evolutionary science. Losos himself is one of the leaders in this exciting new field, and he illustrates how experiments with guppies, fruit flies, bacteria, foxes, and field mice, along with his own work with anole lizards on Caribbean islands, are rewinding the tape of life to reveal just how rapid and predictable evolution can be. Improbable Destinies will change the way we think and talk about evolution. Losos's insights into natural selection and evolutionary change have far-reaching applications for protecting ecosystems, securing our food supply, and fighting off harmful viruses and bacteria. This compelling narrative offers a new understanding of ourselves and our role in the natural world and the cosmos.
Author: David A. Baum,Douglas J. Futuyma,Hopi E. Hoekstra,Richard E. Lenski,Allen J. Moore,Cahterine L. Peichel,Dolph Schluter,Michael C. Whitlock
Publisher: Princeton University Press
The Princeton Guide to Evolution is a comprehensive, concise, and authoritative reference to the major subjects and key concepts in evolutionary biology, from genes to mass extinctions. Edited by a distinguished team of evolutionary biologists, with contributions from leading researchers, the guide contains some 100 clear, accurate, and up-to-date articles on the most important topics in seven major areas: phylogenetics and the history of life; selection and adaptation; evolutionary processes; genes, genomes, and phenotypes; speciation and macroevolution; evolution of behavior, society, and humans; and evolution and modern society. Complete with more than 100 illustrations (including eight pages in color), glossaries of key terms, suggestions for further reading on each topic, and an index, this is an essential volume for undergraduate and graduate students, scientists in related fields, and anyone else with a serious interest in evolution. Explains key topics in some 100 concise and authoritative articles written by a team of leading evolutionary biologists Contains more than 100 illustrations, including eight pages in color Each article includes an outline, glossary, bibliography, and cross-references Covers phylogenetics and the history of life; selection and adaptation; evolutionary processes; genes, genomes, and phenotypes; speciation and macroevolution; evolution of behavior, society, and humans; and evolution and modern society
How Improbable Journeys Shaped the History of Life
Author: Alan de Queiroz
Publisher: Basic Books (AZ)
Throughout the world, closely related species are found on landmasses separated by wide stretches of ocean. What explains these far-flung distributions? Why are such species found where they are across the Earth? Since the discovery of plate tectonics, scientists have conjectured that plants and animals were scattered over the globe by riding pieces of ancient supercontinents as they broke up. In the past decade, however, that theory has foundered, as the genomic revolution has made reams of new data available. And the data has revealed an extraordinary, stranger-than-fiction story that has sparked a scientific upheaval. In The Monkey’s Voyage, biologist Alan de Queiroz describes the radical new view of how fragmented distributions came into being: frogs and mammals rode on rafts and icebergs, tiny spiders drifted on storm winds, and plant seeds were carried in the plumage of sea-going birds to create the map of life we see today. In other words, these organisms were not simply constrained by continental fate; they were the makers of their own geographic destiny. And as de Queiroz shows, the effects of oceanic dispersal have been crucial in generating the diversity of life on Earth, from monkeys and guinea pigs in South America to beech trees and kiwi birds in New Zealand. By toppling the idea that the slow process of continental drift is the main force behind the odd distributions of organisms, this theory highlights the dynamic and unpredictable nature of the history of life. In the tradition of John McPhee’s Basin and Range, The Monkey’s Voyage is a beautifully told narrative that strikingly reveals the importance of contingency in history and the nature of scientific discovery.
Limited Forms Most Beautiful
Author: George R. McGhee
Publisher: MIT Press
An analysis of convergent evolution from molecules to ecosystems, demonstrating the limited number of evolutionary pathways available to life. Charles Darwin famously concluded On the Origin of Species with a vision of "endless forms most beautiful" continually evolving. More than 150 years later many evolutionary biologists see not endless forms but the same, or very similar, forms evolving repeatedly in many independent species lineages. A porpoise's fishlike fins, for example, are not inherited from fish ancestors but are independently derived convergent traits. In this book, George McGhee describes the ubiquity of the phenomenon of convergent evolution and connects it directly to the concept of evolutionary constraint--the idea that the number of evolutionary pathways available to life are not endless, but quite limited. Convergent evolution occurs on all levels, from tiny organic molecules to entire ecosystems of species. McGhee demonstrates its ubiquity in animals, both herbivore and carnivore; in plants; in ecosystems; in molecules, including DNA, proteins, and enzymes; and even in minds, describing problem-solving behavior and group behavior as the products of convergence. For each species example, he provides an abbreviated list of the major nodes in its phylogenetic classification, allowing the reader to see the evolutionary relationship of a group of species that have independently evolved a similar trait by convergent evolution. McGhee analyzes the role of functional and developmental constraints in producing convergent evolution, and considers the scientific and philosophical implications of convergent evolution for the predictability of the evolutionary process.
How the Urban Jungle Drives Evolution
Author: Menno Schilthuizen
*Carrion crows in the Japanese city of Sendai have learned to use passing traffic to crack nuts. *Lizards in Puerto Rico are evolving feet that better grip surfaces like concrete. *Europe’s urban blackbirds sing at a higher pitch than their rural cousins, to be heardover the din of traffic. How is this happening? Menno Schilthuizen is one of a growing number of “urban ecologists” studying how our manmade environments are accelerating and changing the evolution of the animals and plants around us. In Darwin Comes to Town, he takes us around the world for an up-close look at just how stunningly flexible and swift-moving natural selection can be. With human populations growing, we’re having an increasing impact on global ecosystems, and nowhere do these impacts overlap as much as they do in cities. The urban environment is about as extreme as it gets, and the wild animals and plants that live side-by-side with us need to adapt to a whole suite of challenging conditions: they must manage in the city’s hotter climate (the “urban heat island”); they need to be able to live either in the semidesert of the tall, rocky, and cavernous structures we call buildings or in the pocket-like oases of city parks (which pose their own dangers, including smog and free-rangingdogs and cats); traffic causes continuous noise, a mist of fine dust particles, and barriers to movement for any animal that cannot fly or burrow; food sources are mainly human-derived. And yet, as Schilthuizen shows, the wildlife sharing these spaces with us is not just surviving, but evolving ways of thriving. Darwin Comes toTown draws on eye-popping examples of adaptation to share a stunning vision of urban evolution in which humans and wildlife co-exist in a unique harmony. It reveals that evolution can happen far more rapidly than Darwin dreamed, while providing a glimmer of hope that our race toward over population might not take the rest of nature down with us.
How Nature Innovates
Author: Andreas Wagner
"Wagner draws on over fifteen years of research to present the missing piece in Darwin's theory. Using experimental and computational technologies that were heretofore unimagined, he has found that adaptations are not just driven by chance, but by a set of laws that allow nature to discover new molecules and mechanisms in a fraction of the time that random variation would take"--Amazon.com.
How Nature Is Thriving in an Age of Extinction
Author: Chris D. Thomas
Human activity has irreversibly changed the natural environment. But the news isn't all bad. It's accepted wisdom today that human beings have permanently damaged the natural world, causing extinction, deforestation, pollution, and of course climate change. But in Inheritors of the Earth, biologist Chris Thomas shows that this obscures a more hopeful truth--we're also helping nature grow and change. Human cities and mass agriculture have created new places for enterprising animals and plants to live, and our activities have stimulated evolutionary change in virtually every population of living species. Most remarkably, Thomas shows, humans may well have raised the rate at which new species are formed to the highest level in the history of our planet. Drawing on the success stories of diverse species, from the ochre-colored comma butterfly to the New Zealand pukeko, Thomas overturns the accepted story of declining biodiversity on Earth. In so doing, he questions why we resist new forms of life, and why we see ourselves as unnatural. Ultimately, he suggests that if life on Earth can recover from the asteroid that killed off the dinosaurs, it can survive the onslaughts of the technological age. This eye-opening book is a profound reexamination of the relationship between humanity and the natural world.
A New Understanding of Inheritance and Evolution
Author: Russell Bonduriansky,Troy Day
Publisher: Princeton University Press
How genes are not the only basis of heredity—and what this means for evolution, human life, and disease For much of the twentieth century it was assumed that genes alone mediate the transmission of biological information across generations and provide the raw material for natural selection. In Extended Heredity, leading evolutionary biologists Russell Bonduriansky and Troy Day challenge this premise. Drawing on the latest research, they demonstrate that what happens during our lifetimes--and even our grandparents' and great-grandparents' lifetimes—can influence the features of our descendants. On the basis of these discoveries, Bonduriansky and Day develop an extended concept of heredity that upends ideas about how traits can and cannot be transmitted across generations. By examining the history of the gene-centered view in modern biology and reassessing fundamental tenets of evolutionary theory, Bonduriansky and Day show that nongenetic inheritance—involving epigenetic, environmental, behavioral, and cultural factors—could play an important role in evolution. The discovery of nongenetic inheritance therefore has major implications for key questions in evolutionary biology, as well as human health. Extended Heredity reappraises long-held ideas and opens the door to a new understanding of inheritance and evolution.
The Universal Laws of Growth, Innovation, Sustainability, and the Pace of Life in Organisms, Cities, Economies, and Companies
Author: Geoffrey B. West
Category: BUSINESS & ECONOMICS
"Visionary physicist Geoffrey West is a pioneer in the field of complexity science, the science of emergent systems and networks... Fascinated by issues of aging and mortality, West applied the rigor of a physicist to the biological question of why we live as long as we do and no longer. The result was astonishing, and changed science, creating a new understanding of energy use and metabolism: West found that despite the riotous diversity in the sizes of mammals, they are all, to a large degree, scaled versions of each other... West's work has been gaming changing for biologists, but then he made the even bolder move of exploring his work's applicability...and applied...[it] to the business and social world."--
How the Universe became Self-Aware
Author: Simon Conway Morris
Publisher: Templeton Foundation Press
How did human beings acquire imaginations that can conjure up untrue possibilities? How did the Universe become self-aware? In The Runes of Evolution, Simon Conway Morris revitalizes the study of evolution from the perspective of convergence, providing us with compelling new evidence to support the mounting scientific view that the history of life is far more predictable than once thought. A leading evolutionary biologist at the University of Cambridge, Conway Morris came into international prominence for his work on the Cambrian explosion (especially fossils of the Burgess Shale) and evolutionary convergence, which is the process whereby organisms not closely related (not monophyletic), independently evolve similar traits as a result of having to adapt to similar environments or ecological niches. In The Runes of Evolution, he illustrates how the ubiquity of convergence hints at an underlying framework whereby many outcomes, not least brains and intelligence, are virtually guaranteed on any Earth-like planet. Conway Morris also emphasizes how much of the complexity of advanced biological systems is inherent in microbial forms. By casting a wider net, The Runes of Evolution explores many neglected evolutionary questions. Some are remarkably general. Why, for example, are convergences such as parasitism, carnivory, and nitrogen fixation in plants concentrated in particular taxonomic hot spots? Why do certain groups have a particular propensity to evolve toward particular states? Some questions lead to unexpected evolutionary insights: If bees sleep (as they do), do they dream? Why is that insect copulating with an orchid? Why have sponges evolved a system of fiber optics? What do mantis shrimps and submarines have in common? If dinosaurs had not gone extinct what would have happened next? Will a saber-toothed cat ever re-evolve? Cona Morris observes: “Even amongst the mammals, let alone the entire tree of life, humans represent one minute twig of a vast (and largely fossilized) arborescence. Every living species is a linear descendant of an immense string of now-vanished ancestors, but evolution itself is the very reverse of linear. Rather it is endlessly exploratory, probing the vast spaces of biological hyperspace. Indeed this book is a celebration of how our world is (and was) populated by a riot of forms, a coruscating tapestry of life.” The Runes of Evolution is the most definitive synthesis of evolutionary convergence to be published to date.
Author: Charles L. Nunn
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
Comparison is fundamental to evolutionary anthropology. When scientists study chimpanzee cognition, for example, they compare chimp performance on cognitive tasks to the performance of human children on the same tasks. And when new fossils are found, such as those of the tiny humans of Flores, scientists compare these remains to other fossils and contemporary humans. Comparison provides a way to draw general inferences about the evolution of traits and therefore has long been the cornerstone of efforts to understand biological and cultural diversity. Individual studies of fossilized remains, living species, or human populations are the essential units of analysis in a comparative study; bringing these elements into a broader comparative framework allows the puzzle pieces to fall into place, creating a means of testing adaptive hypotheses and generating new ones. With this book, Charles L. Nunn intends to ensure that evolutionary anthropologists and organismal biologists have the tools to realize the potential of comparative research. Nunn provides a wide-ranging investigation of the comparative foundations of evolutionary anthropology in past and present research, including studies of animal behavior, biodiversity, linguistic evolution, allometry, and cross-cultural variation. He also points the way to the future, exploring the new phylogeny-based comparative approaches and offering a how-to manual for scientists who wish to incorporate these new methods into their research.
Understanding the Origin of the Vertebrates
Author: Henry Gee
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
Our understanding of vertebrate origins and the backbone of human history evolves with each new fossil find and DNA map. Many species have now had their genomes sequenced, and molecular techniques allow genetic inspection of even non-model organisms. But as longtime Nature editor Henry Gee argues in Across the Bridge, despite these giant strides and our deepening understanding of how vertebrates fit into the tree of life, the morphological chasm between vertebrates and invertebrates remains vast and enigmatic. As Gee shows, even as scientific advances have falsified a variety of theories linking these groups, the extant relatives of vertebrates are too few for effective genetic analysis. Moreover, the more we learn about the species that do remain—from sea-squirts to starfish—the clearer it becomes that they are too far evolved along their own courses to be of much use in reconstructing what the latest invertebrate ancestors of vertebrates looked like. Fossils present yet further problems of interpretation. Tracing both the fast-changing science that has helped illuminate the intricacies of vertebrate evolution as well as the limits of that science, Across the Bridge helps us to see how far the field has come in crossing the invertebrate-to-vertebrate divide—and how far we still have to go.
Inevitable Humans in a Lonely Universe
Author: Simon Conway Morris
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Life's Solution builds a persuasive case for the predictability of evolutionary outcomes. The case rests on a remarkable compilation of examples of convergent evolution, in which two or more lineages have independently evolved similar structures and functions. The examples range from the aerodynamics of hovering moths and hummingbirds to the use of silk by spiders and some insects to capture prey. Going against the grain of Darwinian orthodoxy, this book is a must read for anyone grappling with the meaning of evolution and our place in the Universe. Simon Conway Morris is the Ad Hominen Professor in the Earth Science Department at the University of Cambridge and a Fellow of St. John's College and the Royal Society. His research focuses on the study of constraints on evolution, and the historical processes that lead to the emergence of complexity, especially with respect to the construction of the major animal body parts in the Cambrian explosion. Previous books include The Crucible of Creation (Getty Center for Education in the Arts, 1999) and co-author of Solnhofen (Cambridge, 1990). Hb ISBN (2003) 0-521-82704-3
How Critical Events Have Driven Human Evolution, Life, and Development
Author: Kostas Kampourakis
Publisher: Prometheus Books
An accessible introduction to core concepts in evolution for lay readers, which shows that random events have played a critical role in the development of life Critical historical events--or "turning points"--have shaped evolution and continue to have a decisive effect on individual lives. This theme is explored and explained in this lucid, accessible book for lay readers. The author argues that, although evolution is the result of unpredictable events, these events have profound influences on subsequent developments. Life is thus a continuous interplay between unforeseeable events and their decisive consequences. As one example, the author cites the fusing of two chromosomes, which differentiated the human species from our closest animal relatives about 4 to 5 million years ago. This event was not predictable, but it had a profound effect on the evolution of our species thereafter. By the same token, certain unpredictable circumstances in the past enabled only Homo sapiens to survive to the present day, though we now know that other human-like species also once existed. The author contrasts such scientific concepts grounded in solid evidence with prevalent misconceptions about life: specifically, the religious notion that there is a plan and purpose behind life, the widespread perception that intelligent design governs the workings of nature, the persistent belief in destiny and fate, and the attribution of an overly deterministic role to genes. This excellent introduction for laypersons to core ideas in biology goes a long way toward dispelling such misconceptions and presents current scientific research in clearly understandable, jargon-free terms.
Ten Species that Changed our World
Author: Alice Roberts
Publisher: Random House
Category: Social Science
**'A masterpiece of evocative scientific storytelling.' BRIAN COX** **'Will appeal to fans of Yuval Noah Harari's Sapiens'. Mail on Sunday ** The extraordinary story of the species that became our allies. Dogs became our companions Wheat fed a booming population Cattle gave us meat and milk Maize fuelled the growth of empires Potatoes brought us feast and famine Chickens led us to wonder about tomorrow Rice promised us a golden future Horses gave us strength and speed Apples travelled with us HUMANS TAMED THEM ALL For hundreds of thousands of years, our ancestors depended on wild plants and animals to stay alive – until they began to tame them. Combining archaeology and cutting-edge genetics, Tamed tells the story of the greatest revolution in human history and reveals the fascinating origins of ten crucial domesticated species; and how they, in turn, transformed us. In a world creaking under the strain of human activity, Alice Roberts urges us to look again at our relationship with the natural world – and our huge influence upon it. AN ECONOMIST AND MAIL ON SUNDAY 'BOOK OF THE YEAR' 2017
Author: Edward O. Wilson
Publisher: Liveright Publishing
An eloquent exploration of creativity, The Origins of Creativity grapples with the question of how this uniquely human expression—so central to our identity as individuals and, collectively, as a species—came about and how it has manifested itself throughout the history of our species. In this profound and lyrical book, one of our most celebrated biologists offers a sweeping examination of the relationship between the humanities and the sciences: what they offer to each other, how they can be united, and where they still fall short. Both endeavours, Edward O. Wilson reveals, have their roots in human creativity—the defining trait of our species. Reflecting on the deepest origins of language, storytelling, and art, Wilson demonstrates how creativity began not ten thousand years ago, as we have long assumed, but over one hundred thousand years ago in the Paleolithic age. Chronicling this evolution of creativity from primate ancestors to humans, The Origins of Creativity shows how the humanities, spurred on by the invention of language, have played a largely unexamined role in defining our species. And in doing so, Wilson explores what we can learn about human nature from a surprising range of creative endeavors—the instinct to create gardens, the use of metaphors and irony in speech, and the power of music and song. Our achievements in science and the humanities, Wilson notes, make us uniquely advanced as a species, but also give us the potential to be supremely dangerous, most worryingly in our abuse of the planet. The humanities in particular suffer from a kind of anthropomorphism, encumbered by a belief that we are the only species among millions that seem to matter, yet Wilson optimistically reveals how researchers will have to address this parlous situation by pushing further into the realm of science, especially fields such as evolutionary biology, neuroscience, and anthropology. With eloquence and humanity, Wilson calls for a transformational "Third Enlightenment," in which the blending of these endeavors will give us a deeper understanding of the human condition and our crucial relationship with the natural world.
The New Science of Human Evolution
Author: Eugene E. Harris
Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
In 2001, scientists were finally able to determine the full human genome sequence, and with the discovery began a genomic voyage back in time. Since then, we have sequenced the full genomes of a number of mankind's primate relatives at a remarkable rate. The genomes of the common chimpanzee (2005) and bonobo (2012), orangutan (2011), gorilla (2012), and macaque monkey (2007) have already been identified, and the determination of other primate genomes is well underway. Researchers are beginning to unravel our full genomic history, comparing it with closely related species to answer age-old questions about how and when we evolved. For the first time, we are finding our own ancestors in our genome and are thereby gleaning new information about our evolutionary past. In Ancestors in Our Genome, molecular anthropologist Eugene E. Harris presents us with a complete and up-to-date account of the evolution of the human genome and our species. Written from the perspective of population genetics, and in simple terms, the book traces human origins back to their source among our earliest human ancestors, and explains many of the most intriguing questions that genome scientists are currently working to answer. For example, what does the high level of discordance among the gene trees of humans and the African great apes tell us about our respective separations from our common ancestor? Was our separation from the apes fast or slow, and when and why did it occur? Where, when, and how did our modern species evolve? How do we search across genomes to find the genomic underpinnings of our large and complex brains and language abilities? How can we find the genomic bases for life at high altitudes, for lactose tolerance, resistance to disease, and for our different skin pigmentations? How and when did we interbreed with Neandertals and the recently discovered ancient Denisovans of Asia? Harris draws upon extensive experience researching primate evolution in order to deliver a lively and thorough history of human evolution. Ancestors in Our Genome is the most complete discussion of our current understanding of the human genome available.
How to Choose and Execute the Right Approach
Author: Martin Reeves,Knut Haanaes
Publisher: Harvard Business Review Press
Category: Business & Economics
You think you have a winning strategy. But do you? Executives are bombarded with bestselling ideas and best practices for achieving competitive advantage, but many of these ideas and practices contradict each other. Should you aim to be big or fast? Should you create a blue ocean, be adaptive, play to win—or forget about a sustainable competitive advantage altogether? In a business environment that is changing faster and becoming more uncertain and complex almost by the day, it’s never been more important—or more difficult—to choose the right approach to strategy. In this book, The Boston Consulting Group’s Martin Reeves, Knut Haanæs, and Janmejaya Sinha offer a proven method to determine the strategy approach that is best for your company. They start by helping you assess your business environment—how unpredictable it is, how much power you have to change it, and how harsh it is—a critical component of getting strategy right. They show how existing strategy approaches sort into five categories—Be Big, Be Fast, Be First, Be the Orchestrator, or simply Be Viable—depending on the extent of predictability, malleability, and harshness. In-depth explanations of each of these approaches will provide critical insight to help you match your approach to strategy to your environment, determine when and how to execute each one, and avoid a potentially fatal mismatch. Addressing your most pressing strategic challenges, you’ll be able to answer questions such as: • What replaces planning when the annual cycle is obsolete? • When can we—and when should we—shape the game to our advantage? • How do we simultaneously implement different strategic approaches for different business units? • How do we manage the inherent contradictions in formulating and executing different strategies across multiple businesses and geographies? Until now, no book brings it all together and offers a practical tool for understanding which strategic approach to apply. Get started today.
How Victorian Geologists Discovered the Secret of Life
Author: Brenda Maddox
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing USA
A rich and exuberant group biography of the early geologists, the people who were first to excavate from the layers of the world its buried history. The birth of geology was fostered initially by gentlemen whose wealth supported their interests, but in the nineteenth century, it was advanced by clergymen, academics, and women whose findings expanded the field. Reading the Rocks brings to life this eclectic cast of characters who brought passion, eccentricity, and towering intellect to the discovery of how Earth was formed. Geology opened a window on the planet's ancient past. Contrary to the Book of Genesis, the rocks and fossils dug up showed that Earth was immeasurably old. Moreover, fossil evidence revealed progressive changes in life forms. It is no coincidence that Charles Darwin was a keen geologist. Acclaimed biographer and science writer Brenda Maddox's story goes beyond William Smith, the father of English geology; Charles Lyell, the father of modern geology; and James Hutton, whose analysis of rock layers unveiled what is now called "deep time.†? She also explores the livesof fossil hunter Mary Anning, the Reverend William Buckland, Darwin, and many others--their triumphs and disappointments, and the theological, philosophical, and scientific debates their findings provoked. Reading the Rocks illustrates in absorbing and revelatory details how this group of early geologists changed irrevocably our understanding of the world.