What Evolution Is (Science Masters Series)

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9780465044269: What Evolution Is (Science Masters Series)
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At once a spirited defense of Darwinian explanations of biology and an elegant primer on evolution for the general reader, What Evolution Is poses the questions at the heart of evolutionary theory and considers how our improved understanding of evolution has affected the viewpoints and values of modern man.Science Masters Series

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Gathering insights from his seven-decade career, the renowned biologist Ernst Mayr argues that evolution is now to be considered not a theory but a fact--and that "there is not a single Why? question in biology that can be answered adequately without a consideration of evolution."

Mayr, emeritus professor of zoology at Harvard University, has long been one of the world's foremost researchers in genetic and evolutionary theory. In this overview of past and current scientific thought, he discusses key concepts and terms, among them the origin of species, the (somewhat metaphorical) "struggle for existence," and agents of micro- and macroevolution. Somewhat against the grain, he argues against reduction and for the study of evolution at the phenotypic, not genetic, level. In his concluding pages, Mayr offers a careful overview of human evolution, adding his view that humankind is indeed unique--though "it has not yet completed the transition from quadrupedal to bipedal life in all of its structures."

Advanced students of the life sciences, as well as readers looking for a survey of current evolutionary theory, will find Mayr's book a useful companion. --Gregory McNamee

About the Author:

Ernst Mayr was the leading evolutionary biologist of the 20th century. He was Professor Emeritus at the Zoology Department of Harvard University and for twenty-three years served as Curator at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. He died in February 2005 in Massachusetts.

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