How did flying birds evolve from running dinosaurs, terrestrial trotting tetrapods from swimming fish, and whales return to swim in the sea? These are some of the great transformations in the history of life; events that have captured the imagination of scientists and the general public alike. At first glance, these major evolutionary events seem utterly impossible. The before and after look so fundamentally different that the great transformations of the history of life not only seem impossible, but unknowable. The 500 million year history of vertebrates is filled with change and, as a consequence, every living species contains within its structure, DNA, and fossil record, a narrative of them. A battery of new techniques and approaches, from diverse fields of inquiry, are now being marshaled to explore classic questions of evolution. These approaches span multiple levels of biological organization, from DNA sequences, to organs, to the physiology and ecology of whole organisms. Analysis of developmental systems reveals deep homologies of the mechanisms that pattern organs as different as bird wings and fish fins. Whales with legs are one of a number of creatures that tell us of the great transformations in the history of life. Expeditions have discovered worms with a kind of head, fishes with elbows, wrists, and necks; feathered dinosaurs, and human precursors to name only a few. Indeed, in the last 20 years, paleontologists have discovered more creatures informative of evolutionary transitions than in the previous millennium. The Great Transformations captures the excitement of these new discoveries by bringing diverse teams of renowned scientists together to attack particular transformations, and to do so in a contents organized by body part--head, neck, fins, limbs, and then the entire bauplan. It is a work that will transform evolutionary biology and paleontology.
New discoveries of ancient vertebrates, filling in gaps in the fossil record, are quickly eroding the traditionally recognized differences between the principal groups of vertebrates—for example, between dinosaurs and birds—and radically changing our understanding of the evolutionary history of the major group of animals to which our species belongs. This book describes this changing scientific landscape and contributes to the revolution in our knowledge of the developmental mechanisms that underlie evolutionary transformation.
Everybody Out of the Pond 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.
When renowned British geneticist J. B. S. Haldane was asked what could be inferred about God from a study of his works, Haldane replied, “An inordinate fondness for beetles.” With 350,000 known species, and scientific estimates that millions more have yet to be identified, their abundance is indisputable as is their variety. They range from the delightful summer firefly to the one-hundred-gram Goliath beetle. Beetles offer a dazzling array of shapes, sizes, and colors that entice scientists and collectors across the globe. The Book of Beetles celebrates the beauty and diversity of this marvelous insect. Six hundred significant beetle species are covered, with each entry featuring a distribution map, basic biology, conservation status, and information on cultural and economic significance. Full-color photos show the beetles both at their actual size and enlarged to show details, such as the sextet of spots that distinguish the six-spotted tiger beetle or the jagged ridges of the giant-jawed sawyer beetle. Based in the most up-to-date science and accessibly written, the descriptive text will appeal to researchers and armchair coleopterists alike. The humble beetle continues to grow in popularity, taking center stage in biodiversity studies, sustainable agriculture programs, and even the dining rooms of adventurous and eco-conscious chefs. The Book of Beetles is certain to become the authoritative reference on these remarkably adaptable and beautiful creatures.
Donald R. Prothero’s Evolution is an entertaining and rigorous history of the transitional forms and series found in the fossil record. Its engaging narrative of scientific discovery and well-grounded analysis has led to the book’s widespread adoption in courses that teach the nature and value of fossil evidence for evolution. Evolution tackles systematics and cladistics, rock dating, neo-Darwinism, and macroevolution. It includes extensive coverage of the primordial soup, invertebrate transitions, the development of the backbone, the reign of the dinosaurs, and the transformation from early hominid to modern human. The book also details the many alleged “missing links” in the fossil record, including some of the most recent discoveries that flesh out the fossil timeline and the evolutionary process. In this second edition, Prothero describes new transitional fossils from various periods, vividly depicting such bizarre creatures as the Odontochelys, or the “turtle on the half shell”; fossil snakes with legs; and the “Frogamander,” a new example of amphibian transition. Prothero’s discussion of intelligent design arguments includes more historical examples and careful examination of the “experiments” and observations that are exploited by creationists seeking to undermine sound science education. With new perspectives, Prothero reframes creationism as a case study in denialism and pseudoscience rather than a field with its own intellectual dynamism. The first edition was hailed as an exemplary exploration of the fossil evidence for evolution, and this second edition will be welcome in the libraries of scholars, teachers, and general readers who stand up for sound science in this post-truth era.
Every fossil tells a story. Best-selling paleontology author Donald R. Prothero describes twenty-five famous, beautifully preserved fossils in a gripping scientific history of life on Earth. Recounting the adventures behind the discovery of these objects and fully interpreting their significance within the larger fossil record, Prothero creates a riveting history of life on our planet. The twenty-five fossils portrayed in this book catch animals in their evolutionary splendor as they transition from one kind of organism to another. We witness extinct plants and animals of microscopic and immense size and thrilling diversity. We learn about fantastic land and sea creatures that have no match in nature today. Along the way, we encounter such fascinating fossils as the earliest trilobite, Olenellus; the giant shark Carcharocles; the "fishibian" Tiktaalik; the "Frogamander" and the "Turtle on the Half-Shell"; enormous marine reptiles and the biggest dinosaurs known; the first bird, Archaeopteryx; the walking whale Ambulocetus; the gigantic hornless rhinoceros Paraceratherium, the largest land mammal that ever lived; and the Australopithecus nicknamed "Lucy," the oldest human skeleton. We meet the scientists and adventurers who pioneered paleontology and learn about the larger intellectual and social contexts in which their discoveries were made. Finally, we find out where to see these splendid fossils in the world's great museums. Ideal for all who love prehistoric landscapes and delight in the history of science, this book makes a treasured addition to any bookshelf, stoking curiosity in the evolution of life on Earth.
From one of our finest and most popular science writers, the best-selling author of Your Inner Fish, comes the answer to a scientific mystery story as big as the world itself: How have astronomical events that took place millions of years ago created the unique qualities of the human species? In his last book, Neil Shubin delved into the amazing connections between human anatomy—our hands, our jaws—and the structures in the fish that first took over land 375 million years ago. Now, with his trademark clarity and exuberance, he takes an even more expansive approach to the question of why we are the way we are. Starting once again with fossils, Shubin turns his gaze skyward. He shows how the entirety of the universe's 14-billion-year history can be seen in our bodies. From our very molecular composition (a result of stellar events at the origin of our solar system), he makes clear, through the working of our eyes, how the evolution of the cosmos has had profound effects on the development of human life on earth. From the Hardcover edition.
Larvae represent one of the classic problems of evolutionary biology and may explain how new body plans originate. It has often been suggested that many entirely unique body plans first originated as retained larvae of ancestral organisms. This book covers larval evolution and the developmental and evolutionary forces which shape and constrain them. Intended to contribute to a continuing dialectic, this book represents diverse opinions as well as manifold conclusions from an international team of leading zoologists and developmental biologists. Certain to challenge and intrigue, this book should be a part of the library of every evolutionary and developmental biologist interested in larvae and their significance. Key Features * Examines how vertebrate and invertebrate larvae develop and evolve * Presents four themes: development, evolution, metamorphosis, and genetic mechanisms * Chapters are organized into three sections: larval types and larval evolution, mechanisms of larval development and evolution, and larval functional morphology, physiology, and ecology
In this book the author, a Harvard evolutionary biologist presents an account of how the human body has evolved over millions of years, examining how an increasing disparity between the needs of Stone Age bodies and the realities of the modern world are fueling a paradox of greater longevity and chronic disease. It illuminates the major transformations that contributed key adaptations to the body: the rise of bipedalism; the shift to a non-fruit-based diet; the advent of hunting and gathering, leading to our superlative endurance athleticism; the development of a very large brain; and the incipience of cultural proficiencies. The author also elucidates how cultural evolution differs from biological evolution, and how our bodies were further transformed during the Agricultural and Industrial Revolutions. While these ongoing changes have brought about many benefits, they have also created conditions to which our bodies are not entirely adapted, the author argues, resulting in the growing incidence of obesity and new but avoidable diseases, such as type 2 diabetes. The author proposes that many of these chronic illnesses persist and in some cases are intensifying because of 'dysevolution,' a pernicious dynamic whereby only the symptoms rather than the causes of these maladies are treated. And finally, he advocates the use of evolutionary information to help nudge, push, and sometimes even compel us to create a more salubrious environment. -- From publisher's web site.
A fascinating chronicle of the evolution of humankind traces the genetic history of the organs of the human body, offering a revealing correlation between the distant past and present-day human anatomy and physiology, behavior, illness, and DNA. Reprint. 75,000 first printing.
With more than 15,000 species, nearly a quarter of the total number of vertebrate species on Earth, freshwater fishes are extremely varied. They include the largest fish species, the beluga at over 7 meters long, and the smallest, the Paedocypris at just 8 millimeters, as well as the carnivorous, such as the piranha, and the calm, such as the Chinese algae eater. Certain species evolve rapidly, cichlids for example, while others transform very slowly, like lungfish. The fossils of these animals are very diverse in nature, sometimes just small scattered bones where sites correspond to ancient river beds or magnificent fossils of entire fish where there was once a lake. This book covers the history of these fishes over the last 250 million years by exploring the links between their biological evolution and the paleogeographic and environmental transformations of our planet, whether these be gradual or sudden. Gathers and synthetizes data from a vast number of publications regarding past freshwater assemblages and several fish lineages that invaded freshwaters Describes the work of the author's own team, concerning fauna from the Cretaceous of France, Morocco, and Thailand Presents the recent results of the tempo of diversification in freshwater environments and the evolutionary histories of clades and gar lineages
Long ago, fish fins evolved into the limbs of land vertebrates and tetrapods. During this transition, some elements of the fin were carried over while new features developed. Lizard limbs, bird wings, and human arms and legs are therefore all evolutionary modifications of the original tetrapod limb. A comprehensive look at the current state of research on fin and limb evolution and development, this volume addresses a wide range of subjects—including growth, structure, maintenance, function, and regeneration. Divided into sections on evolution, development, and transformations, the book begins with a historical introduction to the study of fins and limbs and goes on to consider the evolution of limbs into wings as well as adaptations associated with specialized modes of life, such as digging and burrowing. Fins into Limbs also discusses occasions when evolution appears to have been reversed—in whales, for example, whose front limbs became flippers when they reverted to the water—as well as situations in which limbs are lost, such as in snakes. With contributions from world-renowned researchers, Fins into Limbs will be a font for further investigations in the changing field of evolutionary developmental biology.
Insects truly are the ugly ducklings of the natural world. How does something as beautiful as a butterfly begin life as little more than a fancy maggot? Or something as elegant and delicate as a lacewing hatch like a minuscule escapee from a horror movie? What are the circumstances that require a creature to transform from one body shape into another, a shape that is often so utterly different from the first that you would be forgiven for thinking they were completely unrelated organisms? This book illustrates some of the dramatic transformations insects undergo in their life cycles and explores why evolution has arrived at these remarkable solutions to survival. The aim of the book is to show remarkable transformations, most of which have never before been seen. The book is divided into two main sections: -Insects that undergo partial metamorphosis, such as dragonflies, grasshoppers, and bugs. Here the young resemble the adult, changing gradually with each molt. -Insects that experience a complete metamorphosis such as butterflies, moths, beetles, bees, wasps, ants, and flies. In these species, the young bear no resemblance to the adult in appearance, habitat, or diet, until they pupate. Rupert Soskin's unique project to photograph a range of selected species at each stage of development--from egg to larva to pupa and, finally, fully formed adult--sets a new precedent for nature photography.
The sacred Flower of Life pattern, the primary geometric generator of all physical form, is explored in even more depth in this volume, the second half of the famed Flower of Life workshop. The proportions of the human body, the nuances of human consciousness, the sizes and distances of the stars, planets and moons, even the creations of humankind, are all shown to reflect their origins in this beautiful and divine image. Through an intricate and detailed geometrical mapping, Drunvalo Melchizedek shows how the seemingly simple design of the Flower of Life contains the genesis of our entire third-dimensional existence. From the pyramids and mysteries of Egypt to the new race of Indigo children, Drunvalo presents the sacred geometries of the Reality and the subtle energies that shape our world. We are led through a divinely inspired labyrinth of science and stories, logic and coincidence, on a path of remembering where we come from and the wonder and magic of who we are. Finally, for the first time in print, Drunvalo shares the instructions for the Mer-Ka-Ba meditation, step-by-step techniques for the re-creation of the energy field of the evolved human, which is the key to ascension and the next dimensional world.if done from love, this ancient process of breathing prana opens up for us a world of tantalizing possibility in this dimension, from protective powers to the healing of oneself, of others and even of the planet. Embrace the expanded vision and understanding that Drunvalo offers to the world. Coincidences abound, miracles flourish and the amazing stories of mysteries unveiled arise as the author probes the Ancient Secrets of the Flower of Life.
Knowledge of the evolutionary history of birds has much improved in recent decades. Fossils from critical time periods are being described at unprecedented rates and modern phylogenetic analyses have provided a framework for the interrelationships of the extant groups. This book gives an overview of the avian fossil record and its paleobiological significance, and it is the only up-to-date textbook that covers both Mesozoic and more modern-type Cenozoic birds in some detail. The reader is introduced to key features of basal avians and the morphological transformations that have occurred in the evolution towards modern birds. An account of the Cenozoic fossil record sheds light on the biogeographic history of the extant avian groups and discusses fossils in the context of current phylogenetic hypotheses. This review of the evolutionary history of birds not only addresses students and established researchers, but it may also be a useful source of information for anyone else with an interest in the evolution of birds and a moderate background in biology and geology.
New York Times Bestseller A Summer Reading Pick for President Barack Obama, Bill Gates, and Mark Zuckerberg From a renowned historian comes a groundbreaking narrative of humanity’s creation and evolution—a #1 international bestseller—that explores the ways in which biology and history have defined us and enhanced our understanding of what it means to be “human.” One hundred thousand years ago, at least six different species of humans inhabited Earth. Yet today there is only one—homo sapiens. What happened to the others? And what may happen to us? Most books about the history of humanity pursue either a historical or a biological approach, but Dr. Yuval Noah Harari breaks the mold with this highly original book that begins about 70,000 years ago with the appearance of modern cognition. From examining the role evolving humans have played in the global ecosystem to charting the rise of empires, Sapiens integrates history and science to reconsider accepted narratives, connect past developments with contemporary concerns, and examine specific events within the context of larger ideas. Dr. Harari also compels us to look ahead, because over the last few decades humans have begun to bend laws of natural selection that have governed life for the past four billion years. We are acquiring the ability to design not only the world around us, but also ourselves. Where is this leading us, and what do we want to become? Featuring 27 photographs, 6 maps, and 25 illustrations/diagrams, this provocative and insightful work is sure to spark debate and is essential reading for aficionados of Jared Diamond, James Gleick, Matt Ridley, Robert Wright, and Sharon Moalem.
As the amount of information in biology expands dramatically, it becomes increasingly important for textbooks to distill the vast amount of scientific knowledge into concise principles and enduring concepts.As with previous editions, Molecular Biology of the Cell, Sixth Edition accomplishes this goal with clear writing and beautiful illustrations. The Sixth Edition has been extensively revised and updated with the latest research in the field of cell biology, and it provides an exceptional framework for teaching and learning. The entire illustration program has been greatly enhanced.Protein structures better illustrate structure–function relationships, icons are simpler and more consistent within and between chapters, and micrographs have been refreshed and updated with newer, clearer, or better images. As a new feature, each chapter now contains intriguing openended questions highlighting “What We Don’t Know,” introducing students to challenging areas of future research. Updated end-of-chapter problems reflect new research discussed in the text, and these problems have been expanded to all chapters by adding questions on developmental biology, tissues and stem cells, pathogens, and the immune system.
How can we bring together the study of genes, embryos and fossils? Embryos in Deep Time is a critical synthesis of the study of individual development in fossils. It brings together an up-to-date review of concepts from comparative anatomy, ecology and developmental genetics, and examples of different kinds of animals from diverse geological epochs and geographic areas. Can fossil embryos demonstrate evolutionary changes in reproductive modes? How have changes in ocean chemistry in the past affected the development of marine organisms? What can the microstructure of fossil bone and teeth reveal about maturation time, longevity and changes in growth phases? This book addresses these and other issues and documents with numerous examples and illustrations how fossils provide evidence not only of adult anatomy but also of the life history of individuals at different growth stages. The central topic of Biology today—the transformations occurring during the life of an organism and the mechanisms behind them—is addressed in an integrative manner for extinct animals.
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.

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