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The Evolution of Complexity by Means of Natural Selection Paperback – August 21, 1988
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Top Customer Reviews
The book contains 8 chapters, as follows:
1. A brief summary of Darwinian evolution, along with an indication of the purpose of the book.
In this section Bonner addresses issues such as time, what natural selection is, and the roles that factors such as development, ecology, behavior, and genetics play in the processes of evolution. This chapter is a great primer on ideas regarding natural selection.
2. Evidence for the evolution of size increase (and decrease) from the fossil record.
In this chapter Bonner presents data from the fossil record (which is unavoidably biased) that indicates how the size of things have changed over time. He makes a case that, generally speaking, things have tended to get larger over time.
3. The size of organisms in ecological communities.
Here is a good thought to consider while reading this chapter...organisms of increased size are necessarily more structurally complex than smaller organisms, but, complexity that allowed increases in size to occur existed BEFORE those size increases took place (e.g., mammals). In this chapter Bonner considers topics such as relations between the size and abundance of organisms, size and life histories, size changes wtihin a species, and size in sexual selection. A great chapter full of thought provoking ideas!
4.Read more ›
The book is especially good at the mechanics of organism growth, a sort of modern detailed follow-on to D'Arcy Wentworth Thompson's "On Growth and Form". It provides (maybe unintentionally) a whole lot of suggestions for research directions. The organization is excellent, one of the best I've ever seen. And the writing is very good: relatively informal without being "breezy", clear without being pedantic, and accurate without being obscurantist. There are no equations at all, and very few numeric research results. In fact, the only quantitative reasoning is the slope of a line in a few very generic graphs. Mathophobes need not have any fear. (In fact, the lack of quantitative reasoning when focusing on evolution is a bit worrying.)
However, I found the core theme suggested by the title was not adequately addressed.
For starters, the book isn't what I was looking for and expecting. From the title, I expected from a development point of view the addressing of the same general subject area as "Energy Flow in Biology" by Harold J. Morowitz or "Into the Cool: Energy Flow, Thermodynamics, and Life" by Eric D. Schneider and Dorion Sagan. But that's not what the book is really about.Read more ›