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"The Ancestor's Tale" is a pilgrimage back through time; a journey on which we meet up with fellow pilgrims as we and they converge on our common ancestors. Chimpanzees join us at about 6 million years in the past, gorillas at 7 million years, orang utans at 14 million years, as we stride on together, a growing band. The journey provides the setting for a collection of some 40 tales. Each explores an aspect of evolutionary biology through the stories of characters met along the way or glimpsed from afar - the "Elephant Bird's Tale", the "Marsupial Mole's Tale", the "Lungfish's Tale". Together they give a deep understanding of the processes that have shaped life on Earth: convergent evolution, the isolation of populations, continental drift, the great extinctions. The tales are interspersed with prologues detailing the journey, route maps showing joining lineages, and life-like reconstructions of our common ancestors. "The Ancestor's Tale" represents a pilgrimage on an unimaginable scale: our goal is four billion years away, and the number of pilgrims joining us grows vast - ultimately encompassing all living creatures. At the end of the journey lies something remarkable in its simplicity and transformative power: the first, humble, replicating molecules.
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Richard Dawkins is an evolutionary biologist renowned throughout the world. He was educated at Oxford where he did his doctorate under the nobel-prize winning ethologist Niko Tinbergen. From 1967-1969 he was an Assistant Professor at the University of California at Berkley. Since 1995 he has been Charles Simonyi Professor of the Public Understanding of Science at Oxford University. His books rank among the most influential intellectual works of our time.Review:
'fabulous in many ways... lavishly illustrated and brilliantly signposted, with something to amaze on every page, it will be a hard book for non-scientists to put down.' -- John Cornwell THE SUNDAY TIMES 'As a contribution to the history of ideas this book is well worthy of Britain's top public intellectual. The arguements are as sharply honed as we have come to expect from Dawkins.' -- Matt Ridley GUARDIAN 'one of the richest accounts of evolution ever written...the tales of the pilgrims dart around with a delightful unpredictability, propelled like a firecracker by Dawkin's wonderful way with words. He is so good at explaining complex scientific issues that readers will learn painlessly about matters well outside the author's field of evolutionary biology from maths to cosmology...we have no right to expect (another) magnum opus on the scale of THE ANCESTOR'S TALE.' FINANCIAL TIMES 'huge, magisterial and didactic' -- Richard Wentk FOCUS MAGAZINE 'A book which tries, with much brilliance and some success, to treat our vaunted humanity as no more than a tiny episode in a vast drama, equivalent to a couple of seconds of madness at the end of a very long day.' -- Jonathan Ree THE EVENING STANDARD 'As always with Dawkins, the writing is beautiful: economical, vivid and often, both elegant and witty.' -- John Burnside THE SCOTSMAN 'His book, however, should be given to all intelligent young persons starting out on their exploration of the world. It will excite their curiosity and awe and prove to them that the world is inexhaustible in its fascination.' -- Anthony Daniels THE SUNDAY TELEGRAPH 'A new chronicle of life, wonderfully illustrated, from this great evolutionist.' THE ECONOMIST 'THE ANCESTOR'S TALE makes you feel you have seen the world in a fresh, exhilarating way.' -- Robert Hanks THE DAILY TELEGRAPH 'a monumental book.' -- Dick Ahlstrom THE IRISH TIMES 'In this book Dawkins brings together many of the ideas he has put forward elsewhere into a coherent and elegant whole.' -- Crispin Tickell LITERARY REVIEW
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