The Major Transitions in Evolution / Edition 1

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Overview


Over the history of life there have been several major changes in the way genetic information is organized and transmitted from one generation to the next. These transitions include the origin of life itself, the first eukaryotic cells, reproduction by sexual means, the appearance of multicellular plants and animals, the emergence of cooperation and of animal societies, and the unique language ability of humans. This ambitious book provides the first unified discussion of the full range of these transitions. The authors highlight the similarities between different transitions--between the union of replicating molecules to form chromosomes and of cells to form multicellular organisms, for example--and show how understanding one transition sheds light on others. They trace a common theme throughout the history of evolution: after a major transition some entities lose the ability to replicate independently, becoming able to reproduce only as part of a larger whole. The authors investigate this pattern and why selection between entities at a lower level does not disrupt selection at more complex levels. Their explanation encompasses a compelling theory of the evolution of cooperation at all levels of complexity. Engagingly written and filled with numerous illustrations, this book can be read with enjoyment by anyone with an undergraduate training in biology. It is ideal for advanced discussion groups on evolution and includes accessible discussions of a wide range of topics, from molecular biology and linguistics to insect societies.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"It spans the major transitions in evolution, starting with a prebiotic mix of free molecules and ending with the evolution of human language . . . . A splendid and rewarding tour de force."--Nature

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780198502944
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 2/28/1998
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 360
  • Sales rank: 1,286,511
  • Product dimensions: 8.90 (w) x 5.80 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

University of Sussex

Institute for Advanced Study, Budapest

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Table of Contents

List of Tables Preface
1. Introduction
2. What is Life?
3. Chemical evolution
4. The evolution of templates
5. The chicken and egg problem
6. The origin of translation and the genetic code
7. The origin of protocells
8. The origin of eukaryotes
9. The origin of sex and the nature of species
10. Intragenomic conflict
11. Symbiosis
12. Development in simple organisms
13. Gene regulation and cell heredity
14. The development of spatial patterns
15. Development and evolution
16. The origins of societies
17. The origins of language References Index

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