What Evolution Isby Ernst Mayr, Jared Diamond
Pub. Date: 09/26/2002
Publisher: Basic Books
At once a spirited defense of Darwinian explanations of biology and an elegant primer on evolution for the general reader, What Evolution Is poses the questions at the heart of evolutionary theory and considers how our improved understanding of evolution has affected the viewpoints and values of modern man.Science Masters Series
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What Evolution Is is a concise, easy-to-understand, mind-engaging summary of the current standing of Darwin's Theory of Evolution. Ernst Mayr writes in a way so that anyone can grasp the concepts. In this book, Mayr provides a summary of all the findings made by evolutionary biologists in the past 150 years that have led the Theory of Evolution to become much more than just a theory. Mayr explains how evolution is an irrefutable explanation for why the world is the way it is. Mayr begins his book with a short history of man's philosophies on the creation of the earth, followed by a brief history of evolutionary biology. He then goes on to lay out the vast amounts of evidence that exist for evolution, and the many ways we can see evolutionary forces at work today. This is followed by an explanation of how organic molecules could have arisen in the volatile environment of the newborn earth 4.6 billion years ago and a layout of the phyletic lineages that gave rise to all creatures on the earth today. The rest of the book explains how and why evolution takes place, the process of microevolution, speciation, macroevolution, and the history of human evolution. What Evolution Is answers many basic questions the average person would have, such as: How did life begin after the birth of the earth? How do scientists know the age of the earth? What causes evolution? When did evolution begin? How does evolution happen? At what rate does evolution occur? How do new species come about? How were complex structures, such as the eye, evolved? How is evolution regarded by most scientists today? Why is the fossil record so incomplete? Why are there still prokaryotes and mice and bugs today if everything evolves? and many, many more. What Evolution Is satisfies the reader's curiosity on the topic and explains anything that may seem like a gap in the Theory of Evolution. All information presented is clear and concise. What Evolution Is is a great read for anyone who wants to expand their horizons, anyone who wants an alternative to untestable supernatural explanations, anyone who wants a deeper understanding of the topic, or anyone who simply wants to better understand the world we live in today.
What Evolution Is, is a well written book that was clearly written by a museum curator with a lot of very old references. It describes evolution from an authoritative Paleontological and Typological perspective. I read this after having my belief in evolution challenged by reading Darwin’s Black Box by M. Behe and Genetic Entropy by J. Wells. I read this book to find accurate explanations to several questions: How do very low energy, stable molecules like CH4, NH3 and H2 bump into each other to form complex amino acids then proteins? How do fragile amino acids and proteins bump into each other to form very delicate complex enzymes that eventually begin to self replicate? How does this primordial soup eventually come together to form a cell that can mutate into a human? If the ratio of beneficial mutations to deleterious is between 1 to 100,000, how can evolution outpace fatal mutations? Mayr couldn’t answer any of these questions. I was disappointed by page 28 where Mayr presented Heackel’s illustrations of embryo development from 1870 that were proven fraudulent over 100 years ago. He made no real attempt to explain the Cambrian Explosion and made no attempt to address Irreducible Complexity which was proposed by M. Behe’s, Darwin’s Black Box. I was very disappointed by Mayr’s evidence supporting the primate origin of man starting on page 235. He states “No well-informed person any longer questions the descent of man from primates”, “The evidence for this conclusion is simply too overwhelming”; it consists of three kinds of facts. He proceeds to list Anatomical evidence which is referenced to TH Huxley in 1863, that’s during the Civil War. His second point describes the fossil evidence which Mayr himself contradicts 2 pages later on page 239 when he states “there is no documentation of the branching event between the hominid and the chimpanzee lineages” and “most hominid fossils are extremely incomplete”. Mayr’s third point talks about molecular evolution with no references at all. Mayr’s discussion of molecular bio and genetics was weak throughout the book. In conclusion this book was written in an authoritative, arrogant, insulting manner with several bashes on creationism which I found distasteful. Very weak on Molecular Bio and Genetics with very old references.