- Paperback: 168 pages
- Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1st edition (August 21, 2003)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0192802518
- ISBN-13: 978-0192802514
- Product Dimensions: 6.9 x 0.5 x 4.4 inches
- Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 10 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #938,358 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Evolution: A Very Short Introduction 1st Edition
Use the Amazon App to scan ISBNs and compare prices.
Customers who bought this item also bought
What other items do customers buy after viewing this item?
Two distinguished biologists tell you what evolution is about, in a crystal-clear fashion. It's refreshing to read a clear, non-polemic account of the truth, which you rarely get in popular science writing. * Focus * Evolution without the crap. * Focus. *
About the Author
Brian Charlesworth is Royal Society Research Professor at the Institute of Cell, Animal and Population Biology, University of Edinburgh, and President of the Society for the Study Evolution. His research is mainly in evolutionary genetics, applying classical and molecular genetics to the study of evolution and natural variation. He is author of Evolution in Age-Structured Populations (CUP, 2nd edn. 1994) Deborah Charlesworth is Professor in the ICABP at Edinburgh. Her research focuses on the evolution of plant breeding systems, including how they avoid inbreeding, and work on sex chromosomes and self-incompatibility.
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
The Charlesworths offer the following introduction to this overview of evolution.
"The relentless application of the scientific method of inference from experiment and observation, without reference to religious or government authority, has completely transformed our view of our origins and relation to the universe in less than 500 years. In addition to the intrinsic fascination of the view of the world opened up by science, this has had an enormous impact on philosophy and religion. The findings of science imply that humans are the product of impersonal forces, and that the habitable world forms a minute part of a universe of immense size and duration. Whatever the religious or philosophical beliefs of individual scientists, the whole programme of scientific research is founded on an assumption that the universe can be understood on such a basis."
Evolutionary theory still provokes controversy. The Charlesworths do not hide their view that evolutionary theory is inconsistent with the position of supernatural, intentional creation of separate species. At several points in this introduction, they criticize supernatural creationism directly. Throughout the book, they gather the support for evolution from various strands of science and argue that it is overwhelming.
The Charlesworths begins with a chapter explaining the nature of evolutionary biology drawn from Charles Darwin and Alfred Wallace. Then, in two chapters, they offer corroboration for the theory from two separate strands. In the first, the Charlesworths consider similarities and differences between organisms as showing evolution. The most interesting discussion in this chapter considers findings in cell biology and biochemistry. The study of heredity and of the nature of DNA across all forms of life corroborates and expands evolutionary biology in ways not available to Darwin and Wallace.
In their second chapter setting out evidence for evolution, the Charlesworths examine "patterns in time and space", a form of evidence on which both Darwin and Wallace relied. This source of evolutionary theory is based upon the enormous scope of geological time together with the fossil record. Further studies since Darwin and Wallace, including advances in cell biology and dating techniques have served to corroborate and strengthen the early findings.
In the following portions of their study, the Charlesworths discuss how evolution and natural selection explain the adaptation of species to their environment. They describe how evolution accounts for the astonishing diversity and change in living species, and they conclude with a short chapter on difficult problems in evolution, such as accounting for complex organs including, for example, the human eye.
The Charlesworth's study is short but dense. It requires close, careful reading, particularly in the sections involving cell biology. The book offers as a reward for the required effort a renewed understanding for the lay reader of evolution, its basis and importance. In my own case, I studied evolution in school many years ago but found it useful to focus upon it through this book. The Charlesworths' study will also be useful to students coming to evolutionary biology early in their lives. The book includes a brief bibliography for further reading.
I have found the Very Short Introduction Series of Oxford University Press highly useful in exploring a broad range of subjects. I have especially benefitted from books in the series about the sciences in that I have tended to take the sciences for granted though adult life. This study of evolution fits well with other works in the series I have read, including various books about geology, chemistry, and the relationship between science and religion. Readers wanting an informed brief account of evolutionary biology will benefit from the Charlesworth's Very Short Introduction.
Maynard Smith, the dedicatee of the book, was Brian Charlesworth's mentor at the University of Sussex. Though his book was published in 1958, it has been brought up to date in a new edition for Cambridge (1993) by Richard Dawkins. The book by the Charlesworths has the advantage of being a decade more recent again and in a fast-moving field, currency is important. The short section on mutations of bacteria is particularly good and the illustration (Fig.8) of how DNA codons relate to specific amino acids in proteins is very clear; but I think taking nearly a page to illustrate evolutionary changes in the fossil foraminiferan Globorotalia and another for the phylogenic tree of Darwin's finches is too much information for all but specialist students. Figure 19, criticised by one reviewer, is quite correct in my book.
This book is pure biology: there is nothing here about Intelligent Design (`human beings are the products of impersonal forces') or any other religious issues. In ths, the book follows the materialist approach of the excellent little monographs by Richard Dawkins. The book is clearly written, well illustrated and there is a very good index and therefore unhesitatingly recommended for the serious student of biology.
Howard Jones is the author of The Tao of Holism
The Theory of Evolution (Canto)