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Posts tagged with "Evolution"

  • Darwin Comes to Town: How the Urban Jungle Drives Evolution
    Menno Schilthuizen

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    To thrive in rapidly changing urban areas, plants and animals are evolving at astonishing rates

    Metal-excreting pigeons, pigeon-eating catfish, cigarette-wielding sparrows, soprano-voiced great tits: The modern city is a fantastical menagerie of the odd and unexpected. Through a series of 20 short but connected chapters that mix natural history vignettes, interviews with visionary scientists, and visits to childhood haunts, science journalist and biology professor Menno Schilthuizen introduc… Read More
  • Strange Survivors: How Organisms Attack and Defend in the Game of Life
    Oné R. Pagán

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    A friendly tour of unusual animal adaptations misses many highlights

    The Iberian ribbed newt (Pleurodeles waltl) is an evolutionary biologist’s dream. Unremarkable in appearance, with rough slate-colored skin, it’s found across the Iberian Peninsula and southward in Morocco. Nondescript perhaps, but the newt is superlative. When threatened, its ribs puncture the sides of its body like a row of defensive spears. At the same time… Read More
  • Mate Choice: The Evolution of Sexual Decision Making from Microbes to Humans
    Gil G. Rosenthal

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    A boom in mate choice research prompts a comprehensive look at the state of the field

    Great ideas can sometimes lie under-recognized for years. In the case of the science of mate choice, the waiting period was a long century after its inception in Darwin’s 1871 work, The Descent of Man. In 1983, when the first edited book about the topic was brought forth (1), it contained only a few theoretical… Read More
  • Dinner with Darwin: Food, Drink, and Evolution
    Jonathan Silvertown

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    Dinner with Darwin

    With today’s well-established foodie culture, what better way to serve up a book on evolution than by appealing to a reader’s stomach? In Dinner with Darwin, biologist Jonathan Silvertown details the relationships between humans, our nutrition, and our environment through the lens of evolution. The story is structured as a 10-course meal of “evolutionary gastronomy,”… Read More
  • Improbable Destinies: Fate, Chance, and the Future of Evolution
    Jonathan B. Losos

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    Inevitable or improbable? A biologist sheds light on the evolutionary likelihood of human existence

    In their seminal book Evolution and Healing, Randolph Nesse and George C. Williams describe the design of human bodies as “simultaneously extraordinarily precise and unbelievably slipshod.” Indeed, they conclude that our inconsistencies are so incongruous that one could be forgiven for thinking that we had been “shaped by a prankster.” By what agency did this… Read More
  • The Evolution of Imagination
    Stephen T. Asma

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    A philosopher places creativity in evolutionary context

    The Evolution of Imagination, by philosopher Stephen Asma, is an ambitious and exciting book about creativity, rich with eclectic disciplinary references and enlivened with personal anecdotes. Charting new territory, Asma emphasizes the biological bases of imagination—sensory perception, emotions and affective systems, neurology, biochemistry, brain size and differentiation, and capabilities for… Read More
  • The Evolution of Beauty: How Darwin’s Forgotten Theory of Mate Choice Shapes the Animal World—and Us
    Richard O. Prum

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    An ornithologist argues for the evolution of beauty for beauty’s sake

    Imagine a world created by the quest for beauty, filled with colorful dancing and governed by the principle of autonomous sexual freedom. To access this world, according to Richard Prum, you need only take a stroll outside and watch the avian rites of spring. The Evolution of Beauty represents the culmination of decades of Prum’s… Read More
  • The Book That Changed America: How Darwin's Theory of Evolution Ignited a Nation
    Randall Fuller

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    In a country on the brink of war, abolitionists found inspiration in On the Origin of Species

    Randall Fuller’s lively new volume, The Book That Changed America, draws readers into the political and intellectual foment of antebellum America on the cusp of war. In just under 300 pages, he unfolds the story of how On the Origin of Species debuted in the United States on the eve of the Civil War and… Read More
  • Death on Earth: Adventures in Evolution and Mortality
    Jules Howard

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    A zoologist offers an upbeat meditation on death

    Death. It happens to all living things, from the tiniest of cyanobacteria to the most enormous of elephants and everything in between. In a universe spiraling toward chaos (see the second law of thermodynamics), life is a rare bastion of order, but we living things can’t stave of the inevitable forever. From the moment we… Read More