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Eternal Ephemera: Adaptation and the Origin…
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Eternal Ephemera: Adaptation and the Origin of Species from the Nineteenth…

by Niles Eldredge

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For most of us outside the scientific community, our understanding of evolution begins and ends with Charles Darwin. But, as paleontologist and evolutionary biologist Niles Eldredge shows us in his well-written, well-documented, and extremely interesting book, Eternal Ephemera, Darwin is only part of the story albeit a very important part. Eldredge takes us through two hundred years of evolutionary theory beginning with French naturalist Jean-Baptiste Lamarck who, in 1801, first began to ponder the question of how new species developed and continues right up to the present including Eldredge’s own contributions to the theory on punctuated equilibria which he helped to develop along with Stephen Jay Gould. He provides the reader with a view of not only the ephemeral lives of species but of the evolution of the ideas on evolution. Along with the science and the history, Eldredge makes the story more personal by writing about his own journey following Darwin’s footsteps literally through many of the places Darwin visited on the HMS Beagle. Eternal Ephemera provides a highly readable and highly cogent read for anyone who is interested in both the history and the science of evolution written by one of the most important thinkers in the field and I recommend it highly. ( )
1 vote lostinalibrary | Jul 16, 2015 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0231153163, Hardcover)

All organisms and species are transitory, yet life endures. The origin, extinction, and evolution of species--interconnected in the web of life as "eternal ephemera"--are the concern of evolutionary biology. In this riveting work, renowned paleontologist Niles Eldredge follows leading thinkers as they have wrestled for more than two hundred years with the eternal skein of life composed of ephemeral beings, revitalizing evolutionary science with their own, more resilient findings.

Eldredge begins in France with the naturalist Jean-Baptiste Lamarck, who in 1801 first framed the overarching question about the emergence of new species. The Italian geologist Giambattista Brocchi followed, bringing in geology and paleontology to expand the question. In 1825, at the University of Edinburgh, Robert Grant and Robert Jameson introduced the astounding ideas formulated by Lamarck and Brocchi to a young medical student named Charles Darwin. Who can doubt that Darwin left for his voyage on the Beagle in 1831 filled with thoughts about these daring new explanations for the "transmutation" of species.

Eldredge revisits Darwin's early insights into evolution in South America and his later synthesis of knowledge into a theory of the origin of species. He then considers the ideas of more recent evolutionary thinkers, such as George Gaylord Simpson, Ernst Mayr, and Theodosius Dobzhansky, as well as the young and brash Niles Eldredge and Steven Jay Gould, who set science afire with their concept of punctuated equilibria. Filled with insights into evolutionary biology and told with a rich affection for the scientific arena, this book celebrates the organic, vital relationship between scientific thinking and its subjects.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 23 Mar 2015 10:48:22 -0400)

All organisms and species are transitory, yet life endures. The origin, extinction, and evolution of species - interconnected in the web of life as "eternal ephemera" - are the concern of evolutionary biology. In this riveting work, renowned paleontologist Niles Eldredge follows leading thinkers as they have sought, for more than two hundred years, to understand this paradox, revitalizing evolutionary science with their own, more resilient findings. Eldgredge begins in France with the naturalist Jean-Baptiste Lamarck, who in 1801 first framed the overarching question about the emergence of new species. The Italian geologist Giambattista Brocchi followed, bringing in geology and paleontology to expand the question. In 1825, at the University of Edinburgh, Robert Grant and Robert Jameson introduced the astounding ideas formulated by Lamarck and Brocchi to a young medical student named Charles Darwin. Who can doubt that Darwin left for his voyage on the Beagle in 1831 filled with thoughts about these daring new explanations for the "transmutation" of species. Eldredge revisits Darwin's early insights into evolution in South America and his later synthesis of knowledge into a theory of the origin of species. He then considers the ideas of more recent evolutionary thinkers, such as George Gaylord Simpson, Ernst Mayr, and Theodosius Dobzhansky, as well as the young and brash Nilese Eldredge and Stephen Jay Gould who set science afire with their concept of punctuated equilibria. Filled with insights into evolutionary biology and told with a rich affection for the scientific arena, this book celebrates the organic, vital relationship between scientific thinking and its subjects.… (more)

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