DNA is the genetic material that defines us as individuals. Over the last two decades, it has emerged as a powerful tool for solving crimes and determining guilt and innocence. But, very recently, an important new aspect of DNA has been revealed—it contains a detailed record of evolution. That is, DNA is a living chronicle of how the marvelous creatures that inhabit our planet have adapted to its many environments, from the freezing waters of the Antarctic to the lush canopy of the rain forest.
In the pages of this highly readable narrative, Sean Carroll guides the general reader on a tour of the massive DNA record of three billion years of evolution to see how the fittest are made. And what a eye-opening tour it is—one featuring immortal genes, fossil genes, and genes that bear the scars of past battles with horrible diseases. This book clinches the case for evolution, beyond any reasonable doubt. 50 black-and-white illustrations and 8 pages of color
From Publishers Weekly
Picking up where scientists like Richard Dawkins have left off, Carroll, a professor of genetics at the University of Wisconsin–Madison (Endless Forms Most Beautiful: The New Science of Evo-Devo
), has written a fast-paced look at how DNA demonstrates the evolutionary process. Natural selection eliminates harmful changes and embraces beneficial ones, and each change leaves its signature on a species' DNA codes. For example, the Antarctic ice fish today has no red blood cells; yet a fossilized gene for hemoglobin remains in its DNA, showing that the fish has adapted over 55 million years by losing the red blood cells that thicken blood and make it harder to pump in extreme cold. The fish has developed other features that allow it to absorb and circulate blood without hemoglobin. . Carroll points out that by examining the DNA of these ice fish species, it's possible to map its origins as well as the history of the South Atlantic's geology. He also uses dolphins, colobus monkeys and microbes to demonstrate how deeply evolution is etched in DNA. While searches for the genetic basis for evolution are hardly new, Carroll offers some provocative and convincing evidence. 7 pages of color illus.; 50 b&w illus. (Oct.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Sensing that many people misunderstand evolution or don't believe it, geneticist Carroll here hopes to teach the interested and convince the doubters. He uses popular interest in animals as his lure and selects specific creatures, beginning with bloodless fishes of the Antarctic seas, as stages for his substantive points about evolution. More particularly, Carroll focuses on specific genes carried by his cast of animals to demonstrate natural selection. Carroll considers the animals' most favorable adaptations, preserved in what he calls "immortal genes"; several hundred are common to all domains of life. Carroll then scales up to the macroscopic and considers traits such as color vision in monkeys; the vision and anatomy of fish, including the famous coelacanth; and the sickle-cell trait in humans. In each case, Carroll explains how the DNA code of the gene responsible for the trait is inferred to be the result of natural selection working on mutations, which occur at a steady rate. Here is evolution clearly explained and stoutly defended. REVWR
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved