Life's Splendid Drama: Evolutionary Biology and the Reconstruction of Life's Ancestry, 1860-1940

Life's Splendid Drama: Evolutionary Biology and the Reconstruction of Life's Ancestry, 1860-1940

by Peter J. Bowler
     
 

ISBN-10: 0226069214

ISBN-13: 9780226069210

Pub. Date: 11/28/1996

Publisher: University of Chicago Press

In 1928, paleontologist William Diller Matthew wrote, "The story of life on earth is a splendid drama." This story has captivated generations of biologists, including those working in the years immediately following publication of Darwin's Origin of Species in 1859. Yet histories of the Darwinian revolution have ignored the main nineteenth-century application of…  See more details below

Overview

In 1928, paleontologist William Diller Matthew wrote, "The story of life on earth is a splendid drama." This story has captivated generations of biologists, including those working in the years immediately following publication of Darwin's Origin of Species in 1859. Yet histories of the Darwinian revolution have ignored the main nineteenth-century application of evolution: the attempt to reconstruct the history of life on earth. Now Peter J. Bowler seeks to recover some of this lost history in Life's Splendid Drama, the definitive account of evolutionary morphology and its relationships with paleontology and biogeography. As Bowler tracks major scientific debates over the emergence of the vertebrates, the origins of the main types of living animals, and the rise and extinction of groups such as the dinosaurs, his richly detailed accounts bring to light complex interactions among specialists in various fields of biology. Charting the role of Darwin's ideas and the degree and direction of their influence, Bowler shows how these interactions constituted an interdisciplinary program with a focus on reconstructing the past rather than on mechanisms of evolutionary change. Bowler also examines the socially laden metaphors used by early biologists to describe the history of life, and argues that such usage influenced the development of modern evolutionism by exploiting Darwinian principles outside the context of the genetical theory of natural selection. Much of the rhetoric of "social Darwinism" may thus have been derived not directly from natural selection theory but from the application of Darwinian principles to the rise and fall of different animal groups over time. Bowler's magisterial work will appeal to historians of science and ideas and also to biologists - particularly those working in evolutionary biology, paleontology, and systematicsinterested in the roots of their disciplines, as well as to the many readers fascinated by Darwin and his influence.

Read More

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780226069210
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
Publication date:
11/28/1996
Series:
Science and Its Conceptual Foundations series Series
Edition description:
1
Pages:
540
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.40(d)

Table of Contents

List of Figures
Preface
Table of Geological Periods and Eras
1The First Evolutionary Biology1
A New Biology6
A Revolution in Science?15
Transforming Traditions18
The Professional Framework25
2The Tree of Life40
Relationships Redefined45
Form and Function62
Convergence and Parallelism67
Ontogeny and Phylogeny74
The Base of the Tree83
3Are the Arthropoda a Natural Group?97
The Problem of Arthropod Origins103
The Genealogy of the Crustacea106
Peripatus and the Origin of the Tracheata120
Limulus an Arachnid123
The Debate Widens127
The Fossil Record132
4Vertebrate Origins141
The Ascidian Theory147
The Annelid Theory154
The Arthropod Theories171
Nemertines and the Actinozoa180
Balanoglossus and the Echinoderms185
The Environmental Trigger192
Later Developments196
5From Fish to Amphibian203
The Origin of Fish206
The Fin Problem219
The Origin of the Amphibians229
From Water to Land244
6The Origin of Birds and Mammals259
From Reptile to Bird261
Taking to the Air273
Monotremes, Marsupials, and Mammals280
The Mammal-like Reptiles297
7Patterns in the Past313
Putting Things Together320
Adaptive Radiation328
Laws and Trends339
Rise and Fall352
Mass Extinctions366
8The Geography of Life371
Zoological Provinces379
Lost Worlds389
Northern Origins394
Southern Continents407
9The Metaphors of Evolutions419
Trees and Ladders424
The Biology of Imperialism?435
Phylogeny and Modern Darwinism441
Biographical Appendix447
Bibliography461
Index511

Read More

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >