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The Neutral Theory of Molecular Evolution Reprint Edition

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ISBN-13: 978-0521317931
ISBN-10: 0521317932
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Editorial Reviews

Review

' ... a book which will rank with The Genetical Theory of Natural Selection and The Causes of Evolution as a milestone in evolutionary biology.' Nature

'I have enjoyed the book immensely. It is argumentatively written, but always with fair presentation of the other side.' Bid Essays

'... a work of great significance, which should be read by everyone with a serious interest in evolution.' New Scientist

'... this book is a major contribution to the field.' The Times Higher Education Supplement

Book Description

Motoo Kimura, as founder of the neutral theory, is uniquely placed to write this book. He first proposed the theory in 1968 to explain the unexpectedly high rate of evolutionary change and very large amount of intraspecific variability at the molecular level that had been uncovered by new techniques in molecular biology.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press; Reprint edition (February 22, 1985)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521317932
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521317931
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,167,788 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By John Duncan on May 7, 2008
Format: Paperback
John H. Ryskamp's "review" is gibberish from beginning to end, and tells us nothing of value about the book, but Mj Dos Reis Barros's review sums it up well.

Motoo Kimura was one of the major evolutionary theorists of the 20th century, and his neutral theory is an essential component for understanding molecular evolution. In particular, he explained why studies of proteins and genes show little evidence of natural selection, whereas studies of whole organisms show a great deal. In essence, biochemical function is much the same in a huge array of organisms, and once a particular protein has arrived at a structure that is very well adapted to its function there is not much selective pressure for it to evolve further. Consequently the evolution that we see is mainly the result of errors that have little or no effect on function, i.e. the result of neutral mutations. This does not, however, exclude negative selection to eliminate mutations that are definitely harmful. We can see this clearly in gene sequences: in many codons the third base can be changed without affecting the amino acid coded for, and thus with no effect on the protein that results, whereas this is not the case for changes in the first and second bases. In accordance with the neutral theory coupled with negative selection, therefore, comparisons between genes coding for the same protein in different organisms show far higher mutation rates for the third base than for the others.

The neutral theory is sometimes claimed by creationists as evidence against natural selection, so it is important to understand that Kimura saw it as nothing of the kind.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Mj Dos Reis Barros on November 8, 2005
Format: Paperback
Kimura's contribution to the area of molecular evolution is unparalleled in this field. This book is a true classic that still has high relevance nowdays and it is continuosly cited in the research literature. The mathematical elegance of this theory is breathtaking, and any student comtemplating a research life in molecular evolution must read it.
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This book is a classic and anybody who is considering a career in molecular genetics should read this book thoroughly and take time to reflect on its meaning. It is well written and the ideas and exposition are excellent. The theory is now best described as "null hypothesis" that one should now test your (much more easily obtained) genomic data against. Unfortunately, many current geneticists are not formally taught this material.
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5 of 51 people found the following review helpful By John H. Ryskamp on June 15, 2005
Format: Paperback
"Natural" mathematics is the idea that mathematical formulations are inherently prone to paradox. Therefore, added to them--although not in an internally consistent manner--must be the idea that mathematical formulations are human perception.

This inherently faulty position was taken by mathematicians at the turn of the century in order to avoid the "paradoxes" of Cantorian set theory. However, Garciadiego has shown (in BERTRAND RUSSELL AND THE ORIGINS OF THE SET-THEORETIC 'PARADOXES') that the "paradoxes" of set theory were not paradoxes at all--they were meaningless formulations, or simply labels for concepts which had never existed (such as the Burali-Forti "paradox").

This line of mathematical historical research has exposed the flaws of "natural" mathematics. It is well known that Kimura was deficient in mathematical tools when it came time to express his ideas. So he turned to the mathematics of Malecot. Unfortunately, Malecot's mentor was Emile Borel, one of the first mathematicians to develop "natural" mathematics in response to the set-theoretic "paradoxes."

Kimura's neutral theory used to be regarded as the dernier mot in avant garde biological theory. However, it almost certainly is faulty, containing the same flaw as "natural" mathematics. To see how this is so, translate Richard's contradiction (recounted on pp. 141-142 of Garciadiego) into Kimura's theoretical formulation. You will see that it suffers--in its own terms of art--from the flaw Richard saw in his own contradiction (and pointed out in a letter to Poincare). The problem in Richard is that "the collection G had meaning only if the set E was defined in totality; this could not be done except with infinitely many words.
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