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The Mermaid's Tale: Four Billion Years of Cooperation in the Making of Living Things Hardcover – March 17, 2009

ISBN-13: 978-0674031937 ISBN-10: 0674031938

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press (March 17, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0674031938
  • ISBN-13: 978-0674031937
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.4 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,560,806 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

As an attempt to replace the dominant selectionist paradigm, The Mermaid's Tale is sure to raise more than a few eyebrows among evolutionary biologists. At the very least, it ought to make them think very hard--as they should--about entertaining alternatives to our current received wisdom. (Ian Tattersall, Curator in the Division of Anthropology, American Museum of Natural History)

About the Author

Kenneth M. Weiss is Evan Pugh Professor of Anthropology and Genetics, Pennsylvania State University.

Anne V. Buchanan is Senior Research Scientist, Department of Anthropology, Pennsylvania State University.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Jen W. on February 28, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Weiss and Buchanan describe a new perspective for studying evolutionary biology. They challenge the emphasis on natural selection as the primary evolutionary force, remind us of caveats and limitations that even Darwin recognized, and show us a refreshing way to see the forest for the trees.

This book explains the "eco/devo/evo perspective," a perspective that not only is certain to be discussed by scholars for quite some time but also is certain to make you think about your own research in a whole new light.

The information is easily accessible but doesn't skimp on content, making it a must-read for non-academics, graduate students, and professionals alike.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Herbert Gintis on June 5, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
There was a time when evolution meant competition, and critics of Darwin from the Left berated the theory's natural implication that competitive capitalism was a natural order. A lot has happened since then. I think the watershed was John Maynard Smith and Eors Szathmary's The Major Transitions in Evolution (1997) and Laurent Keller's Levels of Selection in Evolution (1999), although I must say that when I first began studying population biology in about 1993, it was for the purpose of understanding cooperation in humans and other social species, not competition. Perhaps utimately, it was E. O. Wilson's Sociobiology (1975) that began the shift in evolutionary theory towards a balanced study of cooperation and competition.

Weiss and Buchanan have written an elementary introduction to evolutionary and developmental biology that is not suited for the classroom, but rather for casual reading by the intelligent layperson. Their claim to fame is that it stresses cooperation rather than competition, and development as well as evolution. The book is beauitifully produced and nicely written. The figures are instructive, and it gets away without any serious genetics or population dynamics.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By cccdavi01 on March 18, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
An amazingly fun and informative romp through the history of evolution. I check the ecodevo blog everyday and am a better person for it!

Would more anthropologists and policy makers read this...
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