Some Assembly Required: Decoding Four Billion Years of Life, from Ancient Fossils to DNA

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Some Assembly Required: Decoding Four Billion Years of Life, from Ancient Fossils to DNA
Title Some Assembly Required: Decoding Four Billion Years of Life, from Ancient Fossils to DNA
Author
Publisher Pantheon
Release DateMarch 17, 2020
Category Science Fiction & Fantasy
Total Pages 224 pages
ISBN B07RYHNGZY
Book Rating 4.6 out of 5 from 254 reviews
Language EN, ES, BE, DA ,DE , NL and FR
Book Review & Summary:

he author of the best-selling Your Inner Fish gives us a lively and accessible account of the great transformations in the history of life on Earth--a new view of the evolution of human and animal life that explains how the incredible diversity of life on our planet came to be. Over billions of years, ancient fish evolved to walk on land, reptiles transformed into birds that fly, and apelike primates evolved into humans that walk on two legs, talk, and write. For more than a century, paleontologists have traveled the globe to find fossils that show how such changes have happened. We have now arrived at a remarkable moment—prehistoric fossils coupled with new DNA technology have given us the tools to answer some of the basic questions of our existence: How do big changes in evolution happen? Is our presence on Earth the product of mere chance? This new science reveals a multibillion-year evolutionary history filled with twists and turns, trial and error, accident and invention. In Some Assembly Required, Neil Shubin takes readers on a journey of discovery spanning centuries, as explorers and scientists seek to understand the origins of life's immense diversity.

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Some Assembly Required by Neil Shubin

Title Some Assembly Required
Author Neil Shubin
Publisher Vintage
Release Date 2020-03-17
Category Science
Total Pages 288
ISBN 9781101871348
Language English, Spanish, and French
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Book Summary:

An exciting and accessible new view of the evolution of human and animal life on Earth. From the author of national bestseller, Your Inner Fish, this extraordinary journey of discovery spans centuries, as explorers and scientists seek to understand the origins of life's immense diversity. “Fossils, DNA, scientists with a penchant for suits of armor—what’s not to love?”—BBC Wildlife Magazine Over billions of years, ancient fish evolved to walk on land, reptiles transformed into birds that fly, and apelike primates evolved into humans that walk on two legs, talk, and write. For more than a century, paleontologists have traveled the globe to find fossils that show how such changes have happened. We have now arrived at a remarkable moment—prehistoric fossils coupled with new DNA technology have given us the tools to answer some of the basic questions of our existence: How do big changes in evolution happen? Is our presence on Earth the product of mere chance? This new science reveals a multibillion-year evolutionary history filled with twists and turns, trial and error, accident and invention. In Some Assembly Required, Neil Shubin takes readers on a journey of discovery spanning centuries, as explorers and scientists seek to understand the origins of life's immense diversity.

Some Assembly Required by Neil Shubin

Title Some Assembly Required
Author Neil Shubin
Publisher Simon and Schuster
Release Date 2020-03-19
Category Science
Total Pages 288
ISBN 9781786078025
Language English, Spanish, and French
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Book Summary:

‘Intimate and thoughtful… Exciting… [A] sweeping evolutionary history.’ Science The author of the bestselling Your Inner Fish gives us a brilliant, up-to-date account of the great transformations in the history of life on Earth. This is a story full of surprises. If you think that feathers arose to help animals fly, or lungs to help them walk on land, you’d be in good company. You’d also be entirely wrong. Neil Shubin delves deep into the mystery of life, the ongoing revolutions in our understanding of how we got here, and brings us closer to answering one of the great questions – was life on earth inevitable…or was it all an accident?

Some Assembly Required by Neil Shubin

Title Some Assembly Required
Author Neil Shubin
Publisher Vintage
Release Date 2021-08-31
Category Science
Total Pages 288
ISBN 9781101972687
Language English, Spanish, and French
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Book Summary:

"[An] account of the great transformations in the history of life on Earth--a new view of the evolution of human and animal life that explains how the incredible diversity of life on our planet came to be"--

The Universe Within by Neil Shubin

Title The Universe Within
Author Neil Shubin
Publisher Vintage
Release Date 2013-01-08
Category Science
Total Pages 240
ISBN 9780307907868
Language English, Spanish, and French
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Book Summary:

**Kirkus Best Books of the Year (2013)** From one of our finest and most popular science writers, and the best-selling author of Your Inner Fish, comes the answer to a scientific mystery as big as the world itself: How are the events that formed our solar system billions of years ago embedded inside each of us? In Your Inner Fish, Neil Shubin delved into the amazing connections between human bodies—our hands, heads, and jaws—and the structures in fish and worms that lived hundreds of millions of years ago. In The Universe Within, with his trademark clarity and exuberance, Shubin takes an even more expansive approach to the question of why we look the way we do. Starting once again with fossils, he turns his gaze skyward, showing us how the entirety of the universe’s fourteen-billion-year history can be seen in our bodies. As he moves from our very molecular composition (a result of stellar events at the origin of our solar system) through the workings of our eyes, Shubin makes clear how the evolution of the cosmos has profoundly marked our own bodies. WITH BLACK-AND-WHITE LINE DRAWINGS THROUGHOUT

Your Inner Fish by Neil Shubin

Title Your Inner Fish
Author Neil Shubin
Publisher Vintage
Release Date 2009
Category Science
Total Pages 237
ISBN 9780307277459
Language English, Spanish, and French
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Book Summary:

A fascinating chronicle of the evolution of humankind traces the genetic history of the organs of the human body, offering a revealing correlation between the distant past and present-day human anatomy and physiology, behavior, illness, and DNA. Reprint. 75,000 first printing.

Evolution by Donald R. Prothero

Title Evolution
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Publisher Columbia University Press
Release Date 2017-08-22
Category Science
Total Pages 384
ISBN 9780231543163
Language English, Spanish, and French
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Book Summary:

Donald R. Prothero’s Evolution is an entertaining and rigorous history of the transitional forms and series found in the fossil record. Its engaging narrative of scientific discovery and well-grounded analysis has led to the book’s widespread adoption in courses that teach the nature and value of fossil evidence for evolution. Evolution tackles systematics and cladistics, rock dating, neo-Darwinism, and macroevolution. It includes extensive coverage of the primordial soup, invertebrate transitions, the development of the backbone, the reign of the dinosaurs, and the transformation from early hominid to modern human. The book also details the many alleged “missing links” in the fossil record, including some of the most recent discoveries that flesh out the fossil timeline and the evolutionary process. In this second edition, Prothero describes new transitional fossils from various periods, vividly depicting such bizarre creatures as the Odontochelys, or the “turtle on the half shell”; fossil snakes with legs; and the “Frogamander,” a new example of amphibian transition. Prothero’s discussion of intelligent design arguments includes more historical examples and careful examination of the “experiments” and observations that are exploited by creationists seeking to undermine sound science education. With new perspectives, Prothero reframes creationism as a case study in denialism and pseudoscience rather than a field with its own intellectual dynamism. The first edition was hailed as an exemplary exploration of the fossil evidence for evolution, and this second edition will be welcome in the libraries of scholars, teachers, and general readers who stand up for sound science in this post-truth era.

Oxygen by Donald E. Canfield

Title Oxygen
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Publisher Princeton University Press
Release Date 2014-01-19
Category Science
Total Pages 216
ISBN 9781400849888
Language English, Spanish, and French
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Book Summary:

The remarkable scientific story of how Earth became an oxygenated planet The air we breathe is twenty-one percent oxygen, an amount higher than on any other known world. While we may take our air for granted, Earth was not always an oxygenated planet. How did it become this way? Donald Canfield—one of the world's leading authorities on geochemistry, earth history, and the early oceans—covers this vast history, emphasizing its relationship to the evolution of life and the evolving chemistry of the Earth. Canfield guides readers through the various lines of scientific evidence, considers some of the wrong turns and dead ends along the way, and highlights the scientists and researchers who have made key discoveries in the field. Showing how Earth’s atmosphere developed over time, Oxygen takes readers on a remarkable journey through the history of the oxygenation of our planet.

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Title Transcendence
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Publisher Basic Books
Release Date 2020-01-21
Category Science
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ISBN 9780465094912
Language English, Spanish, and French
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Book Summary:

In the tradition of Guns, Germs, and Steel and Sapiens, a winner of the Royal Society Prize for Science Books shows how four tools enabled has us humans to control the destiny of our species "A wondrous, visionary work"--Tim Flannery, scientist and author of the bestselling The Weather Makers What enabled us to go from simple stone tools to smartphones? How did bands of hunter-gatherers evolve into multinational empires? Readers of Sapiens will say a cognitive revolution -- a dramatic evolutionary change that altered our brains, turning primitive humans into modern ones -- caused a cultural explosion. In Transcendence, Gaia Vince argues instead that modern humans are the product of a nuanced coevolution of our genes, environment, and culture that goes back into deep time. She explains how, through four key elements -- fire, language, beauty, and time -- our species diverged from the evolutionary path of all other animals, unleashing a compounding process that launched us into the Space Age and beyond. Provocative and poetic, Transcendence shows how a primate took dominion over nature and turned itself into something marvelous.

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Title New World Monkeys
Author Alfred L. Rosenberger
Publisher Princeton University Press
Release Date 2020-09-01
Category Science
Total Pages 368
ISBN 9780691189512
Language English, Spanish, and French
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Book Summary:

A comprehensive account of the origins, evolution, and behavior of South and Central American primates New World Monkeys brings to life the beauty of evolution and biodiversity in action among South and Central American primates, who are now at risk. These tree-dwelling rainforest inhabitants display an unparalleled variety in size, shape, hands, feet, tails, brains, locomotion, feeding, social systems, forms of communication, and mating strategies. Primatologist Alfred Rosenberger, one of the foremost experts on these mammals, explains their fascinating adaptations and how they came about. New World Monkeys provides a dramatic picture of the sixteen living genera of New World monkeys and a fossil record that shows that their ancestors have lived in the same ecological niches for up to 20 million years—only to now find themselves imperiled by the extinction crisis. Rosenberger also challenges the argument that these primates originally came to South America from Africa by floating across the Atlantic on a raft of vegetation some 45 million years ago. He explains that they are more likely to have crossed via a land bridge that once connected Western Europe and Canada at a time when many tropical mammals transferred between the northern continents. Based on the most current findings, New World Monkeys offers the first synthesis of decades of fieldwork and laboratory and museum research conducted by hundreds of scientists.

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Book Summary:

How science can convey a profound sense of wonder, connectedness, and optimism about the human condition. This book makes a compelling case that now more than ever the public at large needs to appreciate the critical-thinking tools that science has to offer and be educated in basic science literacy. The author emphasizes that the methods and facts of science are accessible to everyone, and that, contrary to popular belief, understanding science does not require extraordinary intelligence. He also notes that scientific rationality and critical thinking are not only good for our physical well-being but also are fully in sync with our highest moral codes. He illustrates the many ways in which the scientific worldview offers a profound sense of wonder, connectedness, and optimism about the human condition, an inspiring perspective that satisfies age-old spiritual aspirations. At a time of daunting environmental challenges and rampant misinformation, this book provides a welcome corrective and reason to hope for the future.

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Title Spider Webs
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ISBN 9780226534749
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Book Summary:

In this lavishly illustrated, first-ever book on how spider webs are built, function, and evolved, William Eberhard provides a comprehensive overview of spider functional morphology and behavior related to web building, and of the surprising physical agility and mental abilities of orb weavers. For instance, one spider spins more than three precisely spaced, morphologically complex spiral attachments per second for up to fifteen minutes at a time. Spiders even adjust the mechanical properties of their famously strong silken lines to different parts of their webs and different environments, and make dramatic modifications in orb designs to adapt to available spaces. This extensive adaptive flexibility, involving decisions influenced by up to sixteen different cues, is unexpected in such small, supposedly simple animals. As Eberhard reveals, the extraordinary diversity of webs includes ingenious solutions to gain access to prey in esoteric habitats, from blazing hot and shifting sand dunes (to capture ants) to the surfaces of tropical lakes (to capture water striders). Some webs are nets that are cast onto prey, while others form baskets into which the spider flicks prey. Some aerial webs are tramways used by spiders searching for chemical cues from their prey below, while others feature landing sites for flying insects and spiders where the spider then stalks its prey. In some webs, long trip lines are delicately sustained just above the ground by tiny rigid silk poles. Stemming from the author’s more than five decades observing spider webs, this book will be the definitive reference for years to come.

Title A Brief History of Creation Science and the Search for the Origin of Life
Author Bill Mesler
Publisher W. W. Norton & Company
Release Date 2015-12-07
Category Science
Total Pages 288
ISBN 9780393248548
Language English, Spanish, and French
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Book Summary:

The epic story of the scientists through the ages who have sought answers to life’s biggest mystery: How did it begin? In this essential and illuminating history of Western science, Bill Mesler and H. James Cleaves II seek to answer the most crucial question in science: How did life begin? They trace the trials and triumphs of the iconoclastic scientists who have sought to solve the mystery, from Darwin’s theory of evolution to Crick and Watson’s unveiling of DNA. This fascinating exploration not only examines the origin-of-life question, but also interrogates the very nature of scientific discovery and objectivity.

Life Unfolding by Jamie A. Davies

Title Life Unfolding
Author Jamie A. Davies
Publisher Oxford University Press
Release Date 2014-02
Category Science
Total Pages 299
ISBN 9780199673537
Language English, Spanish, and French
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Book Summary:

Tells the story of human development from egg to adult, showing how the understanding of how human beings come to be has been transformed in recent years.

Human Errors by Nathan H. Lents

Title Human Errors
Author Nathan H. Lents
Publisher HarperCollins
Release Date 2018-05-01
Category Science
Total Pages 256
ISBN 9781328974679
Language English, Spanish, and French
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Book Summary:

A biology professor’s illuminating tour of the physical imperfections—from faulty knees to junk DNA—that make us human. ¶“A funny, fascinating catalog of our collective shortcomings that’s tough to put down.”—Discover ¶ We humans like to think of ourselves as highly evolved creatures. But if we are supposedly evolution’s greatest creation, why do we have such bad knees? Why do we catch head colds so often—two hundred times more often than a dog does? How come our wrists have so many useless bones? Why is the vast majority of our genetic code pointless? And are we really supposed to swallow and breathe through the same narrow tube? Surely there’s been some kind of mistake? As professor of biology Nathan H. Lents explains in Human Errors, our evolutionary history is indeed nothing if not a litany of mistakes, each more entertaining and enlightening than the last. The human body is one big pile of compromises. But that is also a testament to our greatness: as Lents shows, humans have so many design flaws precisely because we are very, very good at getting around them. A rollicking, deeply informative tour of humans’ four-billion-year-and-counting evolutionary saga, Human Errors both celebrates our imperfections and offers an unconventional accounting of the cost of our success.

The Cheating Cell by Athena Aktipis

Title The Cheating Cell
Author Athena Aktipis
Publisher Princeton University Press
Release Date 2020-03-24
Category Medical
Total Pages 256
ISBN 9780691163840
Language English, Spanish, and French
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Book Summary:

A fundamental and groundbreaking reassessment of how we view and manage cancer When we think of the forces driving cancer, we don’t necessarily think of evolution. But evolution and cancer are closely linked because the historical processes that created life also created cancer. The Cheating Cell delves into this extraordinary relationship, and shows that by understanding cancer’s evolutionary origins, researchers can come up with more effective, revolutionary treatments. Athena Aktipis goes back billions of years to explore when unicellular forms became multicellular organisms. Within these bodies of cooperating cells, cheating ones arose, overusing resources and replicating out of control, giving rise to cancer. Aktipis illustrates how evolution has paved the way for cancer’s ubiquity, and why it will exist as long as multicellular life does. Even so, she argues, this doesn’t mean we should give up on treating cancer—in fact, evolutionary approaches offer new and promising options for the disease’s prevention and treatments that aim at long-term management rather than simple eradication. Looking across species—from sponges and cacti to dogs and elephants—we are discovering new mechanisms of tumor suppression and the many ways that multicellular life-forms have evolved to keep cancer under control. By accepting that cancer is a part of our biological past, present, and future—and that we cannot win a war against evolution—treatments can become smarter, more strategic, and more humane. Unifying the latest research from biology, ecology, medicine, and social science, The Cheating Cell challenges us to rethink cancer’s fundamental nature and our relationship to it.

Life by Richard Fortey

Title Life
Author Richard Fortey
Publisher Vintage
Release Date 2011-03-23
Category Science
Total Pages 400
ISBN 9780307761187
Language English, Spanish, and French
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Book Summary:

By one of Britain's most gifted scientists: a magnificently daring and compulsively readable account of life on Earth (from the "big bang" to the advent of man), based entirely on the most original of all sources--the evidence of fossils. With excitement and driving intelligence, Richard Fortey guides us from the barren globe spinning in space, through the very earliest signs of life in the sulphurous hot springs and volcanic vents of the young planet, the appearance of cells, the slow creation of an atmosphere and the evolution of myriad forms of plants and animals that could then be sustained, including the magnificent era of the dinosaurs, and on to the last moment before the debut of Homo sapiens. Ranging across multiple scientific disciplines, explicating in wonderfully clear and refreshing prose their findings and arguments--about the origins of life, the causes of species extinctions and the first appearance of man--Fortey weaves this history out of the most delicate traceries left in rock, stone and earth. He also explains how, on each aspect of nature and life, scientists have reached the understanding we have today, who made the key discoveries, who their opponents were and why certain ideas won. Brimful of wit, fascinating personal experience and high scholarship, this book may well be our best introduction yet to the complex history of life on Earth. A Book-of-the-Month Club Main Selection With 32 pages of photographs

Ancestors In Our Genome by Eugene E. Harris (Professor)

Title Ancestors in Our Genome
Author Eugene E. Harris (Professor)
Publisher Oxford University Press, USA
Release Date 2015
Category Science
Total Pages 226
ISBN 9780199978038
Language English, Spanish, and French
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Book Summary:

Geneticist Eugene Harris presents us with the complete and up-to-date account of the evolution of the human genome.

Life S Ratchet by Peter M Hoffmann

Title Life s Ratchet
Author Peter M Hoffmann
Publisher Hachette UK
Release Date 2012-10-30
Category Science
Total Pages 288
ISBN 9780465033362
Language English, Spanish, and French
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Book Summary:

Life is an enduring mystery. Yet, science tells us that living beings are merely sophisticated structures of lifeless molecules. If this view is correct, where do the seemingly purposeful motions of cells and organisms originate? In Life's Ratchet, physicist Peter M. Hoffmann locates the answer to this age-old question at the nanoscale. Below the calm, ordered exterior of a living organism lies microscopic chaos, or what Hoffmann calls the molecular storm -- specialized molecules immersed in a whirlwind of colliding water molecules. Our cells are filled with molecular machines, which, like tiny ratchets, transform random motion into ordered activity, and create the "purpose" that is the hallmark of life. Tiny electrical motors turn electrical voltage into motion, nanoscale factories custom-build other molecular machines, and mechanical machines twist, untwist, separate and package strands of DNA. The cell is like a city -- an unfathomable, complex collection of molecular workers working together to create something greater than themselves. Life, Hoffman argues, emerges from the random motions of atoms filtered through these sophisticated structures of our evolved machinery. We are agglomerations of interacting nanoscale machines more amazing than anything in science fiction. Rather than relying on some mysterious "life force" to drive them -- as people believed for centuries -- life's ratchets harness instead the second law of thermodynamics and the disorder of the molecular storm. Grounded in Hoffmann's own cutting-edge research, Life's Ratchet reveals the incredible findings of modern nanotechnology to tell the story of how the noisy world of atoms gives rise to life itself.

Improbable Destinies by Jonathan B. Losos

Title Improbable Destinies
Author Jonathan B. Losos
Publisher Penguin
Release Date 2017-08-08
Category Science
Total Pages 384
ISBN 9780399184932
Language English, Spanish, and French
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Book Summary:

A major new book overturning our assumptions about how evolution works Earth’s natural history is full of fascinating instances of convergence: phenomena like eyes and wings and tree-climbing lizards that have evolved independently, multiple times. But evolutionary biologists also point out many examples of contingency, cases where the tiniest change—a random mutation or an ancient butterfly sneeze—caused evolution to take a completely different course. What role does each force really play in the constantly changing natural world? Are the plants and animals that exist today, and we humans ourselves, inevitabilities or evolutionary flukes? And what does that say about life on other planets? Jonathan Losos reveals what the latest breakthroughs in evolutionary biology can tell us about one of the greatest ongoing debates in science. He takes us around the globe to meet the researchers who are solving the deepest mysteries of life on Earth through their work in experimental evolutionary science. Losos himself is one of the leaders in this exciting new field, and he illustrates how experiments with guppies, fruit flies, bacteria, foxes, and field mice, along with his own work with anole lizards on Caribbean islands, are rewinding the tape of life to reveal just how rapid and predictable evolution can be. Improbable Destinies will change the way we think and talk about evolution. Losos's insights into natural selection and evolutionary change have far-reaching applications for protecting ecosystems, securing our food supply, and fighting off harmful viruses and bacteria. This compelling narrative offers a new understanding of ourselves and our role in the natural world and the cosmos.

Endless Forms Most Beautiful by Sean B. Carroll

Title Endless Forms Most Beautiful
Author Sean B. Carroll
Publisher W. W. Norton & Company
Release Date 2005
Category Science
Total Pages 350
ISBN 0393060160
Language English, Spanish, and French
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Book Summary:

Presents an introduction to evolutionary developmental biology which studies genes and their role in biological diversity and evolution.

Title Great Transformations in Vertebrate Evolution
Author Kenneth P. Dial
Publisher University of Chicago Press
Release Date 2015-07-20
Category Science
Total Pages 424
ISBN 9780226268392
Language English, Spanish, and French
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Book Summary:

How did flying birds evolve from running dinosaurs, terrestrial trotting tetrapods evolve from swimming fish, and whales return to swim in the sea? These are some of the great transformations in the 500-million-year history of vertebrate life. And with the aid of new techniques and approaches across a range of fields—work spanning multiple levels of biological organization from DNA sequences to organs and the physiology and ecology of whole organisms—we are now beginning to unravel the confounding evolutionary mysteries contained in the structure, genes, and fossil record of every living species. This book gathers a diverse team of renowned scientists to capture the excitement of these new discoveries in a collection that is both accessible to students and an important contribution to the future of its field. Marshaling a range of disciplines—from paleobiology to phylogenetics, developmental biology, ecology, and evolutionary biology—the contributors attack particular transformations in the head and neck, trunk, appendages such as fins and limbs, and the whole body, as well as offer synthetic perspectives. Illustrated throughout, Great Transformations in Vertebrate Evolution not only reveals the true origins of whales with legs, fish with elbows, wrists, and necks, and feathered dinosaurs, but also the relevance to our lives today of these extraordinary narratives of change.

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