Read What Evolution Is by Ernst W. Mayr Free Online
Book Title: What Evolution Is|
The author of the book: Ernst W. Mayr
ISBN 13: 9780465044269
Format files: PDF, Epub, DOCx, TXT
The size of the: 944 KB
Edition: Basic Books
Date of issue: October 11th 2002
Reader ratings: 3.1
Loaded: 350 times
Read full description of the books What Evolution Is:
"WHAT EVOLUTION IS", a classic book on this topic, opens with an interesting foreword by Jared Diamond (author of Guns, Germs and Steel and The third Chimpanzee among other books), approaching the importance of how and why evolution needs to be understood not only by the scientific community but also by the general public. I have to say that now I understand the great influence Ernst Mayr I have read on Diamond's publications, specially the role that geography plays on speciation.
In my opinion, this is a fascinating book that will lead you from the biogeographically, molecular and embryological evidence there is on evolution and explain the basic concepts you will need to understand how and why evolution takes place. Evolution, that opportunist process, is not an easy field of study. To fully understand it you need a broad knowledge of many fields of science in which genetics plays a major role, since mutation is the principal source of genetic variation in a population. Molecular biology has and still continues to make great and astonishing contributions to our understanding of the evolutionary process and strengthening Darwinism. In this aspect, Mayr makes a successful explanation of the principles of inheritance and genetics in a very simple manner for anyone interested to understand, from the micro all the way to macroevolution.
Charles Darwin views on evolution are referred to as The Darwinian Theory, but lets remember that in the scientific community the meaning of the word theory is: "a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world, based on knowledge that has been repeatedly confirmed through observation and experimentation ". Darwin contributed with five major theories of evolution. Two of them that make the theory of common descent, and marks the first Darwinian revolution. The other three: gradualism, speciation and the well known natural selection, make the second Darwinian revolution. So, you will definitely get familiar with the Darwinian theory throughout this book.
Ernst Mayr closes beautifully with chapter on: how did mankind evolve, human uniqueness and altruism. It is a book that was published on 2001 and you will probably read parts where he writes that some things are still unknown but are now explained and well documented. To name a few examples: short and long term memory is now well explained from a molecular approach that led Eric Kandel win a Nobel prize on 2004; also, those genes that led to the development of our language such as the FOXP2gene. You will probably ask: "What about the mind and consciousness, is there an explanation for that, do animals have consciousness?" Yes, animals have consciousness and human consciousness evolved from animal consciousness! Hopefully, the reductionist molecular approach will soon give us a clear and definite answer and will finally settle that endless debate that has been for science, religion and philosophy for many, many years and explain us in detail what makes us human. I'll just paraphrase Mayr on this: "intelligence and consciousness is our most highly evolved end point of a long evolutionary history".
Evolution is a fact.... but, like Mayr says on his preface: "That evolution has taken place is so well established that such a detailed presentation of the evidence is no longer needed. In any case, it would not convince those who do not want to be persuaded".
If you want to want to fully grasp the meaning and the basic concepts of evolution and why it is important for you to understand it, bring out your curious human side and read What evolution is by Ernst Mayr. An essential reading on the subject!
"Nothing in biology makes sense, except in the light of evolution" T. Dobzhansky
Read information about the authorErnst Walter Mayr (July 5, 1904 – February 3, 2005) was one of the 20th century's leading evolutionary biologists. He was also a renowned taxonomist, tropical explorer, ornithologist, and historian of science. His work contributed to the conceptual revolution that led to the modern evolutionary synthesis of Mendelian genetics, systematics, and Darwinian evolution, and to the development of the biological species concept.
Although Charles Darwin and others posited that multiple species could evolve from a single common ancestor, the mechanism by which this occurred was not understood, creating the species problem. Ernst Mayr approached the problem with a new definition for the concept of species. In his book Systematics and the Origin of Species (1942) he wrote that a species is not just a group of morphologically similar individuals, but a group that can breed only among themselves, excluding all others. When populations within a species become isolated by geography, feeding strategy, mate selection, or other means, they may start to differ from other populations through genetic drift and natural selection, and over time may evolve into new species. The most significant and rapid genetic reorganization occurs in extremely small populations that have been isolated (as on islands).
His theory of peripatric speciation (a more precise form of allopatric speciation which he advanced), based on his work on birds, is still considered a leading mode of speciation, and was the theoretical underpinning for the theory of punctuated equilibrium, proposed by Niles Eldredge and Stephen Jay Gould. Mayr is sometimes credited with inventing modern philosophy of biology, particularly the part related to evolutionary biology, which he distinguished from physics due to its introduction of (natural) history into science.
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