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Description

A major new work overturning our assumptions about how evolution works.

Earth's natural history is full of fascinating instances of convergence: phenomena like eyes and wings and tree-climbing lizards that have evolved independently, multiple times. But evolutionary biologists also point out many examples of contingency, cases where the tiniest change - a random mutation or an ancient butterfly sneeze - caused evolution to take a completely different course. What role does each force really play in the constantly changing natural world? Are the plants and animals that exist today, and we humans ourselves, inevitabilities or evolutionary freaks? And what does that say about life on other planets?

Jonathan Losos reveals what the latest breakthroughs in evolutionary biology can tell us about one of the greatest ongoing debates in science. He takes us around the globe to meet the researchers who are solving the deepest mysteries of life on Earth through their work in experimental evolutionary science. Losos himself is one of the leaders in this exciting new field, and he illustrates how experiments with guppies, fruit flies, bacteria, foxes, and field mice, along with his own work with anole lizards on Caribbean islands, are rewinding the tape of life to reveal just how rapid and predictable evolution can be.

Improbable Destinies will change the way we think and talk about evolution. Losos' insights into natural selection and evolutionary change have far-reaching applications for protecting ecosystems, securing our food supply, and fighting off harmful viruses and bacteria. This compelling narrative offers a new understanding of ourselves and our role in the natural world and the cosmos.

©2017 Jonathan B. Losos (P)2017 Penguin Audio

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  • Global
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  • Anthony W. Shallin
  • 08/07/2018

Too much trivia.

The overall theme of this book is how individual events shape evolution. This is an interesting topic, but this book is too full of trivia to focus on the central idea. Long passages detail trips to islands to study the evolution of the local fauna, which should be interesting. Instead, we hear about who he met, what they wore and other trivia. I was unable to follow the biology because of all the extraneous details.

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