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Publishers WeeklyStarred Review.
In his fascinating and accessible new book, Jones (Darwin's Ghost: The Origin of Species Updated) sets out to dispel a "parody of the truth" that Darwin "retired into obscurity" after the 1859 publication of Origin of Species as an "almost forgotten savant who...had done his most important work as a young man." Jones deftly illustrates how Darwin's scientific investigations after Origin of Species actually laid the foundation for experimental biology, and are supported and developed by modern work on genetics and DNA. Jones, who has written widely on the famous naturalist, examines the eight years (one sixth of his entire career) that Darwin devoted to a study of the barnacle, providing the basis for later investigations into the workings of the human middle ear. With amazing clarity Jones explains how genes, embryos, the fossils of fish, and other evolutionary elements illuminate shared components between the ear and the sense organs of barnacles. This is one example of many (earthworms, insect-eating plants, the expression of joy or despair in dogs) that the author provides in order to show how "the power of small means, given time, to produce gigantic ends." Jones's ability to dissect complex ideas with verve and wit creates an absorbing and unusually entertaining look at the sweep of Darwin's vision.
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