- Paperback: 360 pages
- Publisher: Oxford University Press; Later Printing Used edition (February 12, 1998)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 019850294X
- ISBN-13: 978-0198502944
- Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 0.9 x 5.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 5 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,393,664 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Major Transitions in Evolution Later Printing Used Edition
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"It spans the major transitions in evolution, starting with a prebiotic mix of free molecules and ending with the evolution of human language . . . . A splendid and rewarding tour de force."--Nature
About the Author
John Maynard Smith (1920-2004) was Emeritus Professor of Biology in the University of Sussex. Eors Szathmary is at the Institute for Advanced Study, Budapest.
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While it was written about 20 years ago, many aspects of this book have a strongly contemporary flavor. The authors discuss, for example, the origins of eukaryotes and the root phylogeny of life. An important discovery was recently made on this topic. In their section on development, there is a discussion of Turing's model for development, which the authors discuss as a theoretical construct. Evidence for the reality of Turing-like mechanisms in development was published in Science within the last couple of years. In their discussion of the development of human sociality, the authors suggest that important social mechanisms emerged initially in the context of kin selection and then were extended to non-kin. Again, this idea is supported by some interesting, recently published research. Maynard Smith and Szathmary clearly identified a series of important research areas and provide a nice way of thinking about these problems generally, a substantial achievement.
An excellent book. Recommended to any professional in the field, to any student of the subject and to laymen with a good background in the subject and who are not intimidated by a challenge and are willing to skip some of the biochemistry. The later chapters are more accessible in that they deal with more difficult subjects, such as speech and culture.
Instead of watering down the content for educated laymen, the authors have published a less technical sequel: "The Origins of Life". This is also available from Amazon and, although it is intended for a wider audience, it is thoroughly rewarding for the professional.