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The Fact of Evolution by Cameron M. Smith
"The Fact of Evolution" is a very instructive, accessible book about evolution. Backed by compelling scientific arguments, great illustrations and conveyed to reach the masses anthropologist Cameron M. Smith does a wonderful job of presenting the fact of evolution. This 346-page book is composed of the following nine chapters: 1. Nullis in Verba, 2. The Fact of Replication, 3. The Fact of Variation, 4. The Fact of Selection, 5. The Fact of Speciation, 6. The Fact of Evolution, 7. Evolution in Action, 8. The Mirror-House of Evolution, and 9. The Grand Illusion.
1. A well written, accessible book about how evolution works.
2. A very well illustrated book. Many figures and tables to assist the reader.
3. Does a good job of defining scientific concepts.
4. Great easy to follow format.
5. A term that is embedded in my brain, "evolution is the consequence of three observable facts of replication, variation, and selection". Thank you.
6. DNA defined and illustrated.
7. The concepts of genotype and phenotype described exquisitely.
8. Sources and constraints of variation.
9. The best description of fitness I've read.
10. Very thorough chapter on how selection works and the many misconceptions about it.
11. The three most recognized modes of selection.
12. Speciation, well defined. Some interesting facts, "species is a stage in a process, not a static unit".
13. Modes of speciation.
14. A great section on observing speciation. The topic is worthy of a book.
15. Great facts, "The fact that the fossil and genetic evidence corroborate one another, even though they were developed centuries apart and for different reasons, is compelling support for a Darwinian explanation of the diversity of life today and in the past".
16. Does a great job of taking a pause and summarizing concepts before continuing on.
17. Evolution in action, many wonderful examples.
18. The eighth chapter, "The Mirror-House of Evolution" was my favorite chapter. It gave me several moments of enlightenment. Bravo!
19. The concept of Horizontal Gene Transfer (HGT) resonates with me, I finally get it and it just makes more sense to me. Thanks!
20. Ok any book that mentions the sonic hedgehog gene, goes down as a positive.
21. The use of the 2009 review from biologist Eugene V. Koonin really does a nice job of wrapping things up in this book.
22. A great notes section, bibliography, index and even websites for more on evolution. Much appreciated.
1. This book is as of this review is not available for the Kindle. Truth is, because of all the illustrations it may be better suited for printed format.
2. No mention of micro or macro evolution. Same process more time, I understand that but it would have been worthwhile.
In summary, at first I felt this book was like many books I've read about evolution. It felt like a good review, but as the foundation was being built I had my aha moments in chapter 8 and it made this book so worthwhile to read. It's one of the reasons I love reading so much, you never know when you are going to have one of those eureka moments. Evolution is a fascinating topic and Cameron M. Smith did it justice, A strong recommendation!
Recommendations (all books reviewed): "Your Inner Fish: A Journey into the 3.5-Billion-Year History of the Human Body (Vintage)..." by Neil Shubin, "The Making of the Fittest: DNA and the Ultimate Forensic Record of Evolution" by Sean B. Carroll, "What Evolution Is" by Ernst Mayr, "Life Ascending: The Ten Great Inventions of Evolution" by Nick Lane, "Written in Stone: Evolution, the Fossil Record, and Our Place in Nature" by Brian Switek, " Evolution: The Triumph of an Idea" by Carl Zimmer, "Why Evolution Works (and Creationism Fails)" by Matt Young, "Why Darwin Matters: The Case Against Intelligent Design" by Michael Shermer, "Only a Theory: Evolution and the Battle for America's Soul" by Kenneth R. Miller, "The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution" by Richard Dawkins and my favorite book for the masses, "Why Evolution Is True" by Jerry A. Coyne.