Read The Book of Life: An Illustrated History of the Evolution of Life on Earth by Stephen Jay Gould Free Online
Book Title: The Book of Life: An Illustrated History of the Evolution of Life on Earth|
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 32.78 MB
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The author of the book: Stephen Jay Gould
Edition: W. W. Norton & Company
Date of issue: January 15th 2001
ISBN: No data
ISBN 13: No data
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Reader ratings: 7.2
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An unusual scientific reference work by any measure, The Book of Life opens with an unusual protest from its editor, Stephen Jay Gould, who worries that it may have left out much of importance discovered between the present and the book's original publication in 1993. Gould's worry is well placed--in the last few years, many advances have been made in taxonomy and genetics, to name just two areas. Still, the book is a lucid, readily comprehensible, and largely up-to-date overview of the origins and evolution of life on earth, from the emergence of bacteria 4 billion years ago to that of Homo sapiens in recent geological time. Written by distinguished scientists, the text proceeds chronologically, giving an in-depth account of the fossil record. It is matched by hundreds of paintings, drawings, charts, and graphs that reinforce the authors' discussions.
More than all that, The Book of Life is a manifesto proclaiming the essential correctness of evolutionary theory, which has come under fire in places like Afghanistan and Kansas. "Life has changed through time," paleontologist Michael Benton observes. "No other explanation will account for the sequence and variety of the life forms preserved as fossils, or the history recorded since humankind began to draw, paint, and carve, about 30,000 years ago." The book's careful documentation of those changes makes it a highly useful reference for high school and university students, and it's a book that rewards casual browsing as well. --Gregory McNamee
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Read information about the authorStephen Jay Gould was a prominent American paleontologist, evolutionary biologist, and historian of science. He was also one of the most influential and widely read writers of popular science of his generation. Gould spent most of his career teaching at Harvard University and working at the American Museum of Natural History in New York.
Most of Gould's empirical research was on land snails. Gould helped develop the theory of punctuated equilibrium, in which evolutionary stability is marked by instances of rapid change. He contributed to evolutionary developmental biology. In evolutionary theory, he opposed strict selectionism, sociobiology as applied to humans, and evolutionary psychology. He campaigned against creationism and proposed that science and religion should be considered two compatible, complementary fields, or "magisteria," whose authority does not overlap.
Many of Gould's essays were reprinted in collected volumes, such as Ever Since Darwin and The Panda's Thumb, while his popular treatises included books such as The Mismeasure of Man, Wonderful Life and Full House.