Jonathan Silvertown is professor of ecology at the Open University, Milton Keynes, and is the author of Demons in Eden and An Orchard Invisible: The Natural History of Seeds.
Silvertown, an evolutionary biologist at Britain's Open University, and six colleagues have produced an attractive, easy-to-navigate book that explains the data supporting evolutionary theory. You don't need any background in science to enjoy this book, note the authors, and this is both its greatest strength and weakness. The discussion is easy to grasp, but also somewhat superficial. The 19 brief chapters are arranged in four sections: Origins, on the genetic relatedness of all living things; Body Building, on the process of developmental change and the evidence for it in the fossil record; Diversity, on the importance of sex in creating diversity and speciation; and Here and Now, on evolution's significance today. Readers will learn about the myriad interactions among genes and how easy these interactions make it for new evolutionary patterns and processes to develop. And readers will learn that evidence from a wide variety of fields, from geology to molecular genetics, physiology and evolutionary psychology, consistently support one another, demonstrating the power of evolutionary theory. The abundant and very attractive color pictures help illustrate the underlying science and are a pleasure to look at in their own right. (Apr. 15)
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