The Equations of Life
The Hidden Rules Shaping Evolution
Professor Charles Cockell argues that evolution and natural selection have always been constrained by basic physical laws, from an atomic level to the animal realm. For instance, there are sound scientific reasons why creatures can’t evolve with wheels instead of legs, and why carbon-based cells are ideal for trapping energy, so life on Earth is far more understandable and predictable than we might imagine.
Science in the Soul
Selected Writings of a Passionate Rationalist
Spanning more than three decades, these 41 essays reflect Richard Dawkins’ commitment to communicating the values and history of science, through his writings on evolution and the wonders of nature, his polemical attacks on faulty logic and his articles connecting scientific discourse to public debates. As well as providing new annotations to individual pieces, he uses the volume’s introduction to reiterate the importance of adhering to reason and objective values in an age of demagoguery and prejudice.
The Tangled Tree
A Radical New History of Life
Recent research has fundamentally challenged the view that genes are passed down vertically, from generation to generation, evolving slowly over time. This account describes the lives and discoveries of scientists including Carl Woese, Lynn Margulis and Tsutomu Watanabe, who have demonstrated that genes can move horizontally across species by viral infection, with significant implications for genetics, public health and our understanding of how the human race has evolved.
Evolution in a Man-Made World
‘The Pekingese is a tinkered wolf, not redesigned wholesale from its wolf ancestors.’ This study examines recent developments in evolutionary biology through the lens of domestication. The rapid physical and behavioural changes which, through centuries of breeding, have been wrought on pets and farm animals, allow us to see evolutionary processes accelerated, and therefore, Francis argues, to understand them better; particularly their conservative nature, a notion espoused by the fields of genomics and evolutionary developmental biology, which feature prominently here. Slightly off-mint.
On the Various Contrivances
by which British and Foreign Orchids are Fertilised by Insects, and on the Good Effects of Intercrossing
This is a facsimile edition of Darwin’s work on orchids (1862) which drew on his own experiments to illustrate his argument, in Origin of Species, that ‘organic beings require an occasional cross with another individual’.
On the Various Contrivances by Which British and Foreign Orchids are Fertilised by Insects, and on
Charles Darwin was fascinated by the way the flowers of orchids had evolved to attract specific insects. Noting the very long spur of Angraecum sesquipedale, he predicted that it could only be fertilized by a moth with a 35cm tongue, a statement that was ridiculed until such a species was discovered after his death. This limited edition facsimile of his seminal 1862 book on the subject is bound in cloth using traditional methods.
Arrival of the Fittest
Solving Evolution's Greatest Puzzle
Although Darwin could explain how evolution preserves useful adaptations over time, the mechanisms behind its speed and efficiency eluded him. In this radical rethinking of Darwinian evolution, Wagner offers a solution to that enduring mystery. He draws on 15 years of research using the latest experimental and computational technologies to uncover the ‘principles of innovability’ that allow the creation of such complicated adaptations as lactose digestion, camouflage and the ‘antifreeze proteins’ produced by Arctic cod.
Not the End of the World?
Isolated environments have encouraged the evolution of distinct species, which are then vulnerable to extinction when contact with the wider world is established; the Mauritian Dodo and Lonesome George, the last of a Galapagos subspecies of giant tortoise, being famous examples. This Natural History Museum introduction to the subject explores extinctions from the earliest organisms to creatures under threat today and assesses whether climate change and the activities of man threaten a modern mass extinction.
The Ancestor's Tale
A Pilgrimage to the Dawn of Life
In a pilgrimage back through four billion years of evolution, Dawkins and Wong follow the history of our genes in search of the microbial beginnings of life. As they encounter other species – from chimpanzees to fungi and bacteria – they listen to each evolutionary ‘tale’, shedding light on such topics as speciation and extinction, and reveal how intimately humans are connected with all life on Earth. This revised and expanded edition takes into account a decade of new research.
The Evolution of Battle
From the horns of dung beetles or the enormous claws of male fiddler crabs to the elaborate antlers of elk, some animals have developed extravagant weapons that seem out of proportion with their size. Evolutionary biologist Douglas Emlen has made a study of the factors that drive the evolution of these extreme specializations and, in this study, draws parallels with the development of military technology in human history, concluding that the governing factors are the same.
What does it mean to say that we share 99 per cent of our genes with chimpanzees, or that languages can 'evolve'? What is a genome? How have ideas about human evolution changed the way we view the world and our fellow creatures? This book offers a straightforward explanation of the basic principles of evolutionary theory, its role in the history of science and the controversies it has caused from Darwin to the present day.
Science and Theology since Copernicus
The Search for Understanding
In this survey of scientific development and theological response over the past 450 years, Barrett covers three major shifts in Western science – the Scientific Revolution (16th and 17th centuries), Darwin's theory of evolution, and New Physics in the 20th century. He describes how the work of leading figures such as Copernicus, Boyle, Newton, Linnaeus and Darwin impacted on Christian belief and concludes with a discussion of the discourse between science and theology in recent decades.