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Remarkable Creatures: Epic Adventures in the Search for the Origin of Species Hardcover – February 10, 2009
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"Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress"
Is the world really falling apart? Is the ideal of progress obsolete? Cognitive scientist and public intellectual Steven Pinker urges us to step back from the gory headlines and prophecies of doom, and instead, follow the data: In seventy-five jaw-dropping graphs, Pinker shows that life, health, prosperity, safety, peace, knowledge, and happiness are on the rise. Learn more
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Just 150 years ago, most of our world was an unexplored wilderness. Our sense of how old it was? Vague and vastly off the mark. And our sense of our own species’ history? A set of fantastic myths and fairy tales. Fossils had been known for millennia, but they were seen as the bones of dragons and other imagined creatures.
In the tradition of The Microbe Hunters and Gods, Graves, and Scholars, Sean Carroll’s Remarkable Creatures celebrates the pioneers who replaced our fancies with the even more amazing true story of how our world evolved.
Carroll recounts the most important discoveries in two centuries of national history â from Darwin’s trip around the world to CharlesWalcott’s discovery of pre-Cambrian life in the Grand Canyon; from Louis and Mary Leakey’s investigation of our deepest past in East Africa to the trailblazers in modern laboratories who have located a time clock in our DNA. Join him in a rousing voyage of discovery, from the epic journeys of pioneering naturalists to the breakthroughs making headlines today.
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The book is structured in three areas. The first talks of the beginnings of the theory of evolution with chapters on Darwin and on Alfred Wallace (Amazon explorations) and Henry Walter Bates. The second group of chapters discusses the role of fossils and the lengths and privations taken to obtain them, as well as the conclusions reached from them. The final group of chapters talks about the human evolution from the cradle of life in Africa to the Neanderthal chapter and the scientists such as Leakey who pioneered this work. It ends with the new role that molecular biology is playing with providing more exact dates when various life forms existed and the genetic relationships between various forms.
This book is recommended for curious readers who want to know more about how we know what we know. It is an overview of the area and highlights the various scientists who advanced knowledge, providing a look at the human side of their lives as well as the scientific discoveries they made. The privations and enthusiasm these individuals displayed as well as the total focus they had on their life work is an amazing characteristic that all shared. Carroll has done an excellent job in explaining the overall theories of life without drowning in the details, providing enough information for those who want to delve more deeply.
In any case, I read it in one sitting.
Charles Darwin and Alfred Wallace, where two men came to the same conclusion, separately.
Eugene Dubois probably the luckiest, found the Java Man.
Father and son of the Alvarez’s shows science can work in mysterious ways, where it so happens that these two working in different fields of science that so happens to find of a clay layer that had no signs of fossils sandwich between Cretaceous and Tertiary periods layers that they so happen to ask a question, “What is it and where did it come from?” Doing some testing that so happen to contain a high concentration of a mineral that is rare on the Earth and with there analysis along with several scenarios, so happen to come up with a scenario that is still standing within the scientific community. This is the luckiest of the “So Happens” discovery for the Scientific Community.
The Louis and Mary Leakey persistence and dedication along with there hardships, gave us the greatest discoveries of the ancestors of Mankind. They showed us who we are and were we came from and it didn’t require any Devine help.
The Fishapod shows how Evolution, geology and the history of earth can be used to make predictions, search the right age along with the right environments in the rock formations to look for and find a fossil that is transiting from a fish to an amphibian can be the most verification of the Evolutionary process. Science can’t get better than this.
Now the part of your book of the Neanderthals (Nea) and Homo Sapiens (we) has been a constant confusion to me. I had a scenario by which the Neanderthals and Homo Sapiens were separate species each evolving from an earlier Hominid separately and independently from each other. Now I never got clear if the Sapiens and Neanderthals had evolved from the same earlier Hominid or different ones, whatever, in either case, this would makes them separate species. Now I watched a program called “Decoding the Neanderthals” that claimed that we share some genes like 1 to 4 %. If we got these genes directly from Nea through sexual activity that made fertile offspring, then we would not be separate species, but only different races. If this is the case, then who came from who? Since Nea is older (300,000 years old ) than we are (180,000 years old), then we would had to evolve from them or some race between us and them. How does this work with Out of Africa scenario? This 1 to 4% statistical analysis, what is the degree of error. It would have to be extremely small for +/-2% would make it invalid. Now these genes that we are sharing has something to do with resistance to diseases that both we and Nea were exposed to. Then could it be that we solved an old problem, the same old way. In other words, with repeatable mutations, we came up with the same solution of resisting these diseases. If this is the case, then of course we would be carrying the same genes as Nea, but not directly.
The only science that I wished this book would have addressed was Plate Tectonics. This is a fantastic story that evolved a weather scientists, ocean explorations, the Cold war, magnetic polarity, rifting mountain ranges, trenches all working separately and independently from each other that took many decades that eventually came together with a scenario of a dynamic Earth. This dynamic Earth is the driving force of Evolution. Another process that illustrates how science can work in mysterious ways. I hope his next book will include this fantastic story.
Carroll masterfully combines engaging writing and good science, one always learns from his books, but it never feels like work. If you enjoy great nonfiction, and love to learn new things, you should also read his "Endless Forms Most Beautiful" and his later "Making of the Fittest," both of which masterfully and engagingly describe some fascinating new discoveries about how genes work (why, for example, the same genes that control the development of our arms and legs are those controlling the development of insects's six appendages)