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The Tree of Life: A Phylogenetic Classification (Harvard University Press Reference Library) [Hardcover]

Guillaume Lecointre , Herve Le Guyader
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

5 Jan 2007 0674021835 978-0674021839
Did you know that you are more closely related to a mushroom than to a daisy? That crocodiles are closer to birds than to lizards? That dinosaurs are still among us? That the terms "fish," "reptiles," and "invertebrates" do not indicate scientific groupings? All this is the result of major changes in classification, whose methods have been totally revisited over the last thirty years. Modern classification, based on phylogeny, no longer places humans at the centre of nature. Groups of organisms are no longer defined by their general appearance, but by their different individual characteristics. Phylogeny, therefore, by showing common ancestry, outlines a tree of evolutionary relationships from which one can retrace the history of life. This book diagrams the tree of life according to the most recent methods of classification. Each branch of the tree is a group that includes the hypothetical ancestor and all its descendants. The basis for classification is the evolutionary adaptations that the unique ancestor passed to its modern-day descendants. By showing how life forms arose and developed and how they are related, "The Tree of Life" presents a key to the living world in all its dazzling variety.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 560 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press (5 Jan 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0674021835
  • ISBN-13: 978-0674021839
  • Product Dimensions: 28.7 x 19.8 x 4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 511,995 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"..he does a good job of guiding us through the scientific
complexities of his argument." -- FT, 24 November 2006

About the Author

Guillaume Lecointre is Professor and Research Scientist at the Museum National d'Histoire Naturelle, Paris. Herve Le Guyader is a Professor of Evolutionary Biology at the University of Pierre and Marie Curie, Paris.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Thorough in what it covers, but has serious gaps 18 Jun 2008
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is an up to date and very readable account of the phylogentic relationships in the tree of life according to latest research. It is more up to date than Colin Tudge's excellent The Variety of Life, for example describing the current thinking about the division of eukaryota into unikonta and bikonta. What it covers, it covers excellently, but it has serious gaps. Some major groups, for example, mycota (fungi), angiosperms (flowering plants), birds and teleost fish amongst others are largely reduced to one page summary diagrams in the appendices. Mammals, and particularly primates, get significant coverage, showing an anthropocentric bias (something Tudge's book is also guilty of). OK, so it is a large book already, but I don't see why some of these groups could not have been given a bit more coverage. If it had covered these groups to the same level of detail, this would have been a superb book (worth 10 stars, never mind 5). Nevertheless, still a book worth having (as is the Tudge book).
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Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  4 reviews
22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thorough phylogenetic classification of life on Earth 7 Sep 2007
By R. Austin - Published on Amazon.com
"The Tree of Life" is a thorough modern phylogenetic classification of life on this planet. This book is great for anyone interested in how different organisms are really related, from single-celled organisms up to humans and our close relatives. Anyone who has ever thought it strange that we should group turtles, crocodilians and dinosaurs together as "reptiles", but exclude birds (and mammals), will likely be interested in this book. The book is comprehensive, detailed, and well illustrated, and remarkably well-priced.

This book covers the whole range of life on Earth, though primates and other mammalian groups are given far more thorough treatment than bacteria and archaeans. Each section provides a description of the distinguishing features of the relevant group, with examples of some of the members, information on the fossil record, and plenty of illustrations.

The main drawback with such a work is, of course, that the field is changing rapidly and it is close to impossible to ever be fully up-to-date. Another minor, but slightly annoying, problem is that a number of errors have crept into the English translation, so, for example, "Pliocene" appears as "Pilocene" in many places in the book.*

Nonetheless, the scope of "The Tree of Life", the detailed description and the abundant illustrations make this an invaluable reference work for those interested in biological classification.

*Note: I assume that these errors are absent from the original French text.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The real tree of life 10 Jun 2009
By Gerald Posner - Published on Amazon.com
WOW! This is an excellent and superbly organized presentation of the phylogenetic relationships of 'all' organisms. Cross-referencing is simple with common name and Latin name indices. Shading, drawings and color are used effectively to highlight relationships. An inserted summary is so useful that it is worth the price alone. No biologist (cellular, organismic or whatever) should be without this book --- and it is amazingly inexpensive.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The book to cast revolution onto classes 23 July 2013
By P. Lopes - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is the one every biology teacher should read thoroughly. Biodiversity taching in highschool is clearly outdated, and this book may be used as a solid reference to structure highschol courses and books. "Magnifique".
15 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome reference 18 Dec 2006
By James R. Tearney - Published on Amazon.com
This book is truly a work of art in layout, design and presentation of line drawings and scientific content. It is one of the best scientific presentations I have seen and anyone remotely interested in this subject needs to check this excellent reference.
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