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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Revolutionary evolutionary theory.
Lynn Margullis and Dorian Sagan reveal their daring theory of the origins of species and it's a mind bender. John Maynard Smith says that these two may well be wrong but it is really good having them around to inspire new ideas. I doubt if they are completely wrong or completely right but they are certainly wonderfully stimulating.
Published 10 months ago by Jungle Jim

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19 of 24 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Life as a Lego construction?
What prompts some American scientists, avowed evolutionists, to engage in ardent Darwin bashing? Steve Gould tried it and failed miserably. Richard Lewontin is still at it, with even less success. Niles Eldredge acknowledged he thought it would gain him "exposure." Lynn Margulis has joined the pack, attempting a direct refutation of Darwin's idea of evolution by natural...
Published on 23 Aug 2005 by Stephen A. Haines


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19 of 24 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Life as a Lego construction?, 23 Aug 2005
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Stephen A. Haines (Ottawa, Ontario Canada) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Acquiring Genomes: A Theory of the Origins of Species (Paperback)
What prompts some American scientists, avowed evolutionists, to engage in ardent Darwin bashing? Steve Gould tried it and failed miserably. Richard Lewontin is still at it, with even less success. Niles Eldredge acknowledged he thought it would gain him "exposure." Lynn Margulis has joined the pack, attempting a direct refutation of Darwin's idea of evolution by natural selection. In her view, natural selection plays only a minimal role in the story of life. Instead, like Gould, she demolishes not only "Origin," but all those scientists adhering to its tenets, as well. It's an ambitious programme, but like that of her accomplices, doomed from the outset. As with her confederates, the demise is from self-inflicted wounds.
Extending Margulis' earlier thesis that cellular organelles were the result of symbiotic relationships, the authors attempt to make "symbiogenesis" replace natural selection. Symbiosis reflects two organisms existing together and mutually dependent. Like Lego pieces they may enjoy individual identity which changes when they're assembled. Margulis and Sagan stress that symbiosis is far more prevalent than a fungi and algae forming lichens on rocks. With many vivid examples, such as green slugs that never eat or a marine organism that "shoots" predators with bacterial ribbons, they stress that the ubiquitous nature of symbiotic relationships "proves" gradual evolution by genetic variation is misleading. Instead, they propose a saltationist approach - new species can be formed as rapidly as the symbiotic relationship is stable.
Margulis derides Darwinist scholars for focussing on extinction, even going to the extent of counting the synonyms for "death" in Darwin's Origin. Arguing that natural selection doesn't "create" new species, she further contends science has never demonstrated the emergence of a new species. She scorns the work of Peter and Rosemary Grant in the Galapagos [featured in Jonathan Weiner's "The Beak of the Finch"] as failing to demonstrate evolution of new bird species. Margulis cannot seriously expect the emergence of a new bird in two decades of study. However, since she contends symbiogenesis can be achieved in a single generation, such extravagant demands aren't surprising. Although she suggests environmental pressures can force symbiotic relationships to emerge, she rejects the notion that these same pressures can winnow life to leave survivors as a new species in the changed circumstances.
While the book is an informative and provocative read, Margulis and Sagan spend nearly as much time ranting about the failures of Darwin and Darwinists as they do presenting evidence for their thesis. As with many polemicists, the authors erect the occasional straw man. In this case, as advocates of Eldredge and Gould's "punk eek" concept, they assault any aspect of sociobiology targetable. Among other false claims, they contend sociobiologists assert altruism among individuals is "monitored." Overzealousness leads them into the occasional blunder, claiming that genes don't produce cells because cells are mostly protein. The job of all genes is to express proteins. Finally, as they have done elsewhere, the pair insert a lengthy support for Lovelock's Gaia thesis. In this case, the section is an abrupt non-sequitur providing no relevant information supporting their thesis.
There's no question of the authors' prose abilities. They present a wealth of new information on microorganisms, all of which makes compelling reading. In too many cases, however, there are few or no references to sources. The assertion that certain mushrooms possess "thousands of genders" may be old news to biologists, but it was a first for me. Yet there is no citation for this information. The illustrations are interesting, but poorly tied to the text. In short, this book presents numerous challenges and topics for further investigation. Margulis and Sagan may have outlined how the methods of natural selection may be expanded, but they have hardly replaced Darwin's original thesis with this effort. [stephen a. haines - Ottawa, Canada]
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Revolutionary evolutionary theory., 20 Feb 2014
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Lynn Margullis and Dorian Sagan reveal their daring theory of the origins of species and it's a mind bender. John Maynard Smith says that these two may well be wrong but it is really good having them around to inspire new ideas. I doubt if they are completely wrong or completely right but they are certainly wonderfully stimulating.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars great book, 20 April 2013
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This review is from: Acquiring Genomes: A Theory of the Origins of Species (Paperback)
Wonderful book that takes you by the hand through the world we live in. Easily read by anyone enjoying science it will deepen your feeling about the life we think we know. Hard to put down and a good addition to the other Margulis books.
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6 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not only for scientists and biology fans!, 1 Aug 2003
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This review is from: Acquiring Genomes: A Theory of the Origins of Species (Paperback)
An interesting theory on how organisms evolve by acquiring or merging with "free-lance" gene sets. Darwinism and Neo-Darwinism are strongly debated and an alternative way of evolution is presented that does not depend solely on random mutations. Readers interested in business can relate to a good extend with the contemporary business environment (if they just merely browse through the 'technical' chapters) and find a couple of interesting points that may explain the course of certain corporate histories.
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Acquiring Genomes: A Theory of the Origins of Species
Acquiring Genomes: A Theory of the Origins of Species by Margulis (Paperback - 21 May 2003)
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