File Size: 17942 KB
Print Length: 829 pages
Publisher: Mariner Books; Reprint edition (September 6, 2016)
Publication Date: September 6, 2016
"In a backward chronology, the ancestors of any set of species must eventually meet at a particular geological moment. Their point of rendezvous is the previous common ancestor that they all share, what I shall call their `Concestor': the focal rodent or the focal mammal or maybe the focal vertebrate, say. The oldest concestor is the grand ancestor of all surviving life. "
And the oldest concestor, in accordance to Dawkins, before pets and plants, before multicellularity, is the single mobile progenitor bacteria.
"The analogy of insect colony to human body is often made, and it is not a bad one. The majority of our cells subjugate their personality, devoting themselves to assisting the reproduction of the minority that are able of it: `germ-line' tissue in the testes or ovaries, whose genes is intended to travel, via ejaculation or eggs, into the distant future. But hereditary relatedness is not the only basis for subjugation of individuality in fruitful division of labor. Any kind of mutual assistance, where either side corrects a deficiency in the other, can be favored by natural selection on both. "
If I were stranded on an island with access to just one book, ANCESTOR'S TALE would easily be my mass... - lc, One of the most detailed books on evolution for a non scientific publicum I have ever seen. And also for biologists, it has lots of information and interesting insights.
The way Dawkins leads the reader through a backwards history of individual evolution is original and amusing. The points he or she chooses as " rendevouz" are utilized to make clear basic concepts in biology, evolution and related sciences, even good explanations on mathematical tools used in evolutionary studies.
After he or she completes the backwards quest to the origins of life, the last one fourth of the book is a little " dry" to read, but this is probably a misperception due to the easy reading of the sleep of the book.
A great reading for curious non-biologist and also for biologist looking for new ways to teach evolution., The on-topic areas of the book are insightful and interesting. Sadly, Dawkins can't go more than 10 pages without pausing to mock George Bush, Christians, or some other right-wing shibboleth. Also when I agree with his asides, I don't want to read them in a book about evolution.
If you want a big-picture view of the history of life and don't mind regular off-topic quips, this is a good purchase., This can be a thick book. It is over 600 pages long and it is filled with facts, and many of these are mildly heavy. In case you manage to end it, back to back of course, you will be enchanted by the processes via which we humans came into being through numerous awe-inspiring "stages" (I know I should avoid this word), right back to the beginning from some simple and tiny self-replicating molecules. It also displays satisfyingly how we are related to any or all extant (and extinct) organisms on world.
On top of that, Richard Dawkins uses this wonderful story of life on earth as a pretext to introduce, demonstrate and illuminate a huge amount of biological, geological and even political ideas. These kinds of actually constitute a main bulk of the guide. You will learn about tectonics, genetics, cladistics, and even mathematics. They appear random at the beginning but can be woven into an all encompassing tapestry. The chapter on race (page 397-414) is particularly motivating.
The penultimate chapter ("Canterbury") is slightly weak. It truly is, I think, very important to think about the second law of thermodynamics in detailing the concept of enzyme/catalyst. It is also crucial in contemplating on the origin of life. With this, I recommend the first chapter of Life Ascending: The Ten Great Inventions of Evolution .
I think it is interesting that biblical allusions abound: Noah (pages 248-252 and 405); Manna (p. 397); Ezekiel (p. 559 - this particular one I find slightly gratuitous); Leviticus/Deutoronomy & Proverbs (p. 221); Leviticus again (p. 250)
Depending on your personal taste, the previous chapter may be the most rewarding one. Whilst it probably is not Dawkins' primary intention, this chapter in my opinion portrays how beautiful and MEANINGFUL life is. As a "religious person" that he pertains to (page 614), I can attest that I agree with him (read web page 614; you'll really know what I mean).
Truly illuminating. Five stars., Who am I to even opine on this comprehensive book which is the authority on this subject? I learned a great deal and could get more info if I re-read and studied this book. Jack Kushner, A good extensively detailed 600 web page tome following the route of evolution backwards, from humans all the way back to the first single cell organisms. Dawkins, alternating science with humorous asides, traces our family tree all the back to the very beginning of life. Not the easiest guide of his to read, but sticking with it to the finish will be rewarding for those truly interested in the subject issue.
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