- Series: The Columbia Classics in Evolution
- Paperback: 364 pages
- Publisher: Columbia University Press (October 15, 1982)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0231054750
- ISBN-13: 978-0231054751
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 8.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 3 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,574,619 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Genetics and the Origin of Species (The Columbia Classics in Evolution)
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About the Author
In 1936, nearly ten years after his Russian emigration, Theodosius Dobzhansky attempted the first synthesis of evolutionary semantics and experimental genetics. His lectures at Columbia University from that time became Genetics and the Origin of Species- a long argument for a general attitude toward nature and a specific approach that unified the disparate elements of evolutionary theory.
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Top customer reviews
Biologists do not seem to realize that what they take as
a starting point has many features which they accept that
Dobzhansky says that "The greatest achievement of biological science to date is the demonstration that the diversity (of organisms) is not fortuitous. It has not arisen from a whim or caprice of some deity. It is a product of evolution, an outcome of a long historical process of development...." He adds, "Biology can not fathom whether life may be part of some Cosmic Design. But biology does show that the evolution of life on earth is governed by causes that can be understood by human reason."
He asserts that The terms "microevolution" and "macroevolution" have "only descriptive meaning; they imply no difference in underlying causal agencies." "Gene mutation and chromosome changes are the sources of variation ... there can be no reasonable doubt that the same agencies have supplied the materials for the actual historical process of evolution."
Mutations are the source of evolution, notwithstanding that mutations are most often harmful to the organism, since "Mutations which are unfavorable in a given environment may be valuable in a changed environment," and "Since natural selection augments the adaptive value of the genotype as a whole, neutral, and even slightly deleterious, traits may be promoted by selection if they happen to be connected with useful ones." He minimizes laboratory experiments intended to create mutations, since in corn experiments, "mutations produced by X rays are different from the spontaneous ones, the former being chiefly minute deficiencies due to destruction of genes."
Dobzhanky rejects Richard Goldschmidt's "hopeful monster" proposal on the grounds that "the number of mutants produced in any one generation would be so small that they could hardly find mates among masses of unchanged relatives."
Dobzhansky waxes philosophical towards the end of the book: "Darwin's affirmation that man is a part of nature seemed to many of his contemporaries, and still seems to some misguided souls, downright blasphemy." He concludes with the statement that "The evolution of life has only one discernible goal, and that is life itself."
This is a significant book for the development of evolutionary thought.