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Improbable Destinies

Fate, Chance, and the Future of Evolution
Lu par : Marc Cashman
Durée : 12 h
3.5 out of 5 stars (3 notations)

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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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  • Global
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Interprétation
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Histoire
    3 out of 5 stars
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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.

6 personnes ont trouvé cela utile

  • Global
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Interprétation
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Histoire
    2 out of 5 stars
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  • David
  • 15/04/2019

Comprehensive, probably, but a bit dry

It’s a fine book, not particularly enthralling. It reads a bit like a laundry list. We can be grateful for the narrator who really brought some life to this book. I’m a biologist, i understood the jargon, but if i weren’t, I would have been lost. Not a go to book about evolution for me. And In the end, there was no particularly profound insight.

1 personne a trouvé cela utile

  • Global
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Interprétation
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Histoire
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Tanya
  • 09/12/2018

Interesting read

Compelling and convincing argument for convergent evolution. The examples used are thought provoking and you will find yourself discussing them at cocktail parties. The book does get a little long toward the end, and while I did still want to hear about the experiments, I did not need to have the theme pointed out over and over.

Overall, I highly recommend this book and feel that as we continue to use DNA sequencing instead of phenotype to re-build phylogenetic trees, the theme of this book will become even more relevant.

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  • Global
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Interprétation
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Histoire
    3 out of 5 stars
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  • J. Fischer
  • 07/12/2018

A little redundant

I enjoyed the general presentation of theories and experiments. However, in the middle part the author goes into details of specific experiments a little too much for my taste. In the last part experiments on bacteria are presented that I would have expected to be the obvious way to draw conclusions about evolution, so the previous chapters seem somewhat superfluous. Anyway the book is generally enjoyable, but the conclusion is not very surprising. "The selfish gene" impressed me far more.