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The Pattern of Evolution by Niles Eldredge

The Pattern of Evolution

by Niles Eldredge

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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0716730464, Hardcover)

What drives biological evolution? Celebrated theorist Niles Eldredge shows us how the adaptation of organisms to their environment mirrors other natural processes in The Pattern of Evolution, and while he's at it, he gets in a few jabs at "ultra-Darwinians" like Richard Dawkins. The well-known theory of punctuated equilibrium, which Eldredge conceived and promoted with Stephen Jay Gould, holds that species remain stable for long intervals between literally earthshaking events that rewrite the evolutionary roster. Eschewing the traditional view differentiating between historical sciences, like his beloved paleontology, and functional sciences, like physics and chemistry, Eldredge proposes that evolutionary theory, by explaining patterns found in nature, can give us just as much "hard" knowledge as Newton's laws. His intriguing ideas are fleshed out with descriptions of illustrative sites (particularly the Puerto Rican rain forest) and dramatic arguments from before, during, and after Darwin's publication of The Origin of Species. As much a pleasure to read as his better-known colleague Gould, Eldredge shares his passions with his readers and is one of the few writers who can make theory both accessible and engrossing. While not all readers will agree with his attitude toward the "selfish gene" model of evolution, few will argue that his arguments for interdisciplinary synthesis in The Pattern of Evolution are anything but necessary and profound. --Rob Lightner

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:09:39 -0400)

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"In The Pattern of Evolution, Eldredge offers readers a fascinating view into this window of our world through time. As he and other researchers continue to uncover patterns in their respective fields, and as new disciplines emerge to straddle traditional scientific boundaries, the window grows wider. And some provocative questions arise: Are there connections between the ways the living and nonliving worlds function and evolve? In the aftermath of a tumultuous collision between the earth's biological and physical forces - a tropical storm of tremendous proportions - did the Cecropia tree Eldredge encountered merely survive the devastation, or did the storm clear its way?" "He examines the history of ideas on evolution from the beginning of the modern scientific era, about two centuries ago, to the present. Seizing on evidence of similar patterns across disciplines, he shows how important issues and events have brought us to the brink of a more comprehensive understanding of the earth. Learning how things work within and between systems is the key to realizing the relation between the world's living and nonliving parts. It is Eldredge's thesis that exploring the connections across systems will lead to the realization that biological evolution is driven by the same underlying forces that have shaped the geology of our planet."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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