Improbable Destinies: Fate, Chance, and the Future of Evolution

By  Jonathan B. Losos
Read by Marc Cashman

12.00 Hours 08/08/2017 unabridged
Format: Digital Download (In Stock)
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    ISBN: 9781524778552

A major new book overturning our assumptions about how evolution works Earth’s natural history is full of fascinating instances of convergence: phenomena like eyes and wings and tree-climbing lizards that have evolved independently, multiple times. But evolutionary biologists also point out many examples of contingency, cases where the tiniest change—a random mutation or an ancient butterfly sneeze—caused evolution to take a completely different course. What role does each force really play in the constantly changing natural world? Are the plants and animals that exist today, and we humans ourselves, inevitabilities or evolutionary flukes? And what does that say about life on other planets? Jonathan Losos reveals what the latest breakthroughs in evolutionary biology can tell us about one of the greatest ongoing debates in science. He takes us around the globe to meet the researchers who are solving the deepest mysteries of life on Earth through their work in experimental evolutionary science. Losos himself is one of the leaders in this exciting new field, and he illustrates how experiments with guppies, fruit flies, bacteria, foxes, and field mice, along with his own work with anole lizards on Caribbean islands, are rewinding the tape of life to reveal just how rapid and predictable evolution can be. Improbable Destinies will change the way we think and talk about evolution. Losos’s insights into natural selection and evolutionary change have far-reaching applications for protecting ecosystems, securing our food supply, and fighting off harmful viruses and bacteria. This compelling narrative offers a new understanding of ourselves and our role in the natural world and the cosmos.

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Summary

Summary

A Library Journal bestseller in science history

A major new book overturning our assumptions about how evolution works

Earth’s natural history is full of fascinating instances of convergence: phenomena like eyes and wings and tree-climbing lizards that have evolved independently, multiple times. But evolutionary biologists also point out many examples of contingency, cases where the tiniest change—a random mutation or an ancient butterfly sneeze—caused evolution to take a completely different course. What role does each force really play in the constantly changing natural world? Are the plants and animals that exist today, and we humans ourselves, inevitabilities or evolutionary flukes? And what does that say about life on other planets?

Jonathan Losos reveals what the latest breakthroughs in evolutionary biology can tell us about one of the greatest ongoing debates in science. He takes us around the globe to meet the researchers who are solving the deepest mysteries of life on Earth through their work in experimental evolutionary science. Losos himself is one of the leaders in this exciting new field, and he illustrates how experiments with guppies, fruit flies, bacteria, foxes, and field mice, along with his own work with anole lizards on Caribbean islands, are rewinding the tape of life to reveal just how rapid and predictable evolution can be.

Improbable Destinies will change the way we think and talk about evolution. Losos’s insights into natural selection and evolutionary change have far-reaching applications for protecting ecosystems, securing our food supply, and fighting off harmful viruses and bacteria. This compelling narrative offers a new understanding of ourselves and our role in the natural world and the cosmos.

Editorial Reviews

Editorial Reviews

“In staggeringly clear and engaging prose, Losos shows us remarkable vignettes of scientists working at personal and professional risk in all sorts of habitats—field, lab and museu —to elucidate stunning mechanisms of evolution…He is one of the premier writers in biology today.” Nature
“With an ideal combination of clarity and comedy, scholarly caution and infectious enthusiasm, Losos shows us how evolutionary biology opens up for each of us the glorious workings of our world, with surprises around every corner.” Washington Post
“Explores how we think evolutionary changes happen in populations, from mice to microbes to sticklebacks. Get this for the backyard biologist in your life.” Popular Science

Reviews

Reviews

Author

Author Bio: Jonathan B. Losos

Jonathan B. Losos is a biology professor and director of the Losos Laboratory at Harvard University and Curator of Herpetology at Harvard’s Museum of Comparative Zoology. His research regularly appears in top scientific journals, such as Nature and Science, and he has written a popular series about his work for the New York Times. He is the editor in chief of The Princeton Guide to Evolution and a member of the National Geographic Society’s Committee for Research and Exploration. He is the author of Improbable Destinies and Lizards in an Evolutionary Tree: Ecology and Adaptive Radiation of Anoles.

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Details

Details

Available Formats : Digital Download
Category: Nonfiction/Science
Runtime: 12.00
Audience: Adult
Language: English