Shaking the Tree: Readings from Nature in the History of Life / Edition 2

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Nature has published news about the history of life ever since its first issue in 1869, in which T. H. Huxley ("Darwin's bulldog") wrote about Triassic dinosaurs. In recent years, the field has enjoyed a tremendous flowering due to new investigative techniques drawn from cladistics (a revolutionary method for charting evolutionary relationships) and molecular biology.

Shaking the Tree brings together nineteen review articles written for Nature over the past decade by many of the major figures in paleontology and evolution, from Stephen Jay Gould to Simon Conway Morris. Each article is brief, accessible, and opinionated, providing "shoot from the hip" accounts of the latest news and debates. Topics covered include major extinction events, homeotic genes and body plans, the origin and evolution of the primates, and reconstructions of phylogenetic trees for a wide variety of groups. The editor, Henry Gee, gives new commentary and updated references.

Shaking the Tree is a one-stop resource for engaging overviews of the latest research in the history of life on Earth.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Fossils and genes dominate this hefty and valuable collection of 19 life-sciences papers, all originally published in the prestigious science journal Nature. Senior editor Gee (In Search of Deep Time) outlines the collection's rationale in a lucid introduction: over the past 10 years or so, new lab technology has connected with new ideas to revitalize the study of evolution, growth and inheritance, from chromosomes to populations. "Evo-devo," or evolutionary developmental biology, explores the large-scale divergences, low down on evolution's branching trees, that separate roundworms from flatworms and lobsters from larks; cladistics improves our guesses about the shape of those trees by studying in mathematical terms the relatedness of present species' DNA. But the collection begins with neither method: in its first paper, Stephen Jay Gould (Rocks of Ages) and collaborator Niles Eldredge revisit and defend their famous theory of "punctuated equilibrium." In the next selections, renowned U.K. biologist John Maynard Smith and E rs Szathm ry consider the chemical basis of major events in early and intracellular evolution, and Caro-Beth Stewart discusses the "powers and pitfalls" of a scheme of thought used in cladistics. The rest of the papers take on broad issues in evolution and earth history; the emergence of various phyla, orders and families from ferns to finches; and primate history and evolution. These are not popularizations, but scientific papers of potentially broad interest, and readers with a serious background in biology--Scientific American subscribers, say--will find in this collection sustained pleasure and interest. (May) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|
Contains 19 review articles written for magazine over the past decade by major figures in paleontology and evolution. Each article is brief, accessible, and opinionated, addressing issues and debates from the origin and evolution of primates to major extinction events. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780226284965
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press
  • Publication date: 5/28/2000
  • Series: Chicago History of American Religion Ser.
  • Edition description: 1
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 418
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Henry Gee is a senior editor at Nature. He is the author of Before the Backbone: Views on the Origin of the Vertebrates and In Search of Deep Time: Beyond the Fossil Record to a New History of Life the latter also published by the University of Chicago Press.

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Table of Contents

Introduction: Shaken and Stirred 1
Pt. 1 Shaping the Tree: How to Create a Tree of Life 13
Punctuated Equilibrium Comes of Age 17
The Major Evolutionary Transitions 32
The Powers and Pitfalls of Parsimony 48
Pt. 2 Geoffroy's Legacy: development, Evolution and Paleontology 63
Homeotic Genes and the Evolution of Arthropods and Chordates 69
A Common Plan for Dorsoventral Patterning in Bilateria 89
Fossils, Genes and the Evolution of Animal Limbs 100
The Fossil Record and the Early Evolution of the Metazoa 128
Pt. 3 Seeing the Tree for the Woods: The Global Context 147
Latest Proterozoic Stratigraphy and Earth History 153
The Early Development of Terrestrial Ecosystems 169
The Permo-Triassic Extinction 189
Pt. 4 Shaking the Tree: Case Histories in Phylogeny 205
The Origin and Early Evolution of Plants on Land 217
The Origin and Early Diversification of Angiosperms 233
Agnathans and the Origins of Jawed Vertebrates 251
The Origin and Early Diversification of Tetrapods 267
The First 85 Million Years of Avian Evolution 288
Mammalian Phylogeny: Shaking the Tree 306
Pt. 5 Climbing Down: The History of Primates 321
Primate Origins: Plugging the Gaps 325
Evolution and Environment in the Hominoidea 354
Origin and Evolution of the Genus Homo 371
Afterword 393
Index 395
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