The Major Transitions in Evolution

The Major Transitions in Evolution

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.

Title:The Major Transitions in Evolution
Edition Language:English
ISBN:9780198502944
Format Type:

    The Major Transitions in Evolution Reviews

  • Jon Richfield

    Though not a formal textbook, this is not a popular book; it is a get-down-to-business book, and very edifying. If you feel frustrated because you find it difficult to follow, read the simplified vers...

  • Jafar Isbarov

    Scientific literature is sharply divided into relevant and outdated. There is little room for classics, yet The Major Transitions in Evolution is a certain one. After death of both authors, it has bee...

  • Xander

    "This book has been about the major changes that have taken place in the way in which information is encoded, and transmitted between generations." So say both authors on the last page (p. 309) in The...

  • Helio

    This is an earlier, longer, more elaborat version of the same authors' "Origins of Life". It has better drawings and better explanations on how natural selfotion might account for transitions such ori...

  • Bria

    The first half or so of this book brought the immense achievement of the existence of life and cells to the forefront of my attention, making me feel if not guilty, at least a little strange, every ti...

  • David Hunter

    A really difficult read. The last chapter covers linguistics, which I happened to study in college. That was the only chapter that did not require heavy mental lifting to make sense of....

  • Rodrigo

    I found it difficult to follow and too geared towards specialists in evolutionary biology. I'm reading their "origins of life" next so that the ideas hopefully sink in a little more. It's interesting ...

  • mensch

    Despite the reviewers blurbs mentioning that this is a very readable book, this is not a title for the regular lay person. It's very readable though, just very hard to understand when not an expert on...