The Ancestor's Tale: A Pilgrimage to the Dawn of Evolution Hardcover – 1 Oct 2004
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-This clever approach to our extended family tree should prove a natural hit with science readers.- --Publishers Weekly, starred
-One of Dawkins's best: a big, almost encyclopedic compendium bursting with information and ideas.- --Kirkus Reviews, starred
-This is an ambitious, important book rich with fascinating insights. Also, it couldn't come at a better time.---Carl Zimmer, The New York Times Book Review
-Our complete evolutionary story, brilliantly recounted by Dawkins.---Jonathan Keats, Popular Science
-The most modest and winning of his eight books.---John Horgan, Discover
"This clever approach to our extended family tree should prove a natural hit with science readers." --Publishers Weekly, starred
"One of Dawkins's best: a big, almost encyclopedic compendium bursting with information and ideas." --Kirkus Reviews, starred
"This is an ambitious, important book rich with fascinating insights. Also, it couldn't come at a better time."--Carl Zimmer, The New York Times Book Review
"Our complete evolutionary story, brilliantly recounted by Dawkins."--Jonathan Keats, Popular Science
"The most modest and winning of his eight books."--John Horgan, Discover --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From the Back Cover
Like Steven Pinker s "How the Mind Works" or Stephen Hawking s "A Brief History of Time," it s a one-stop education, a marathon for the mind. "Newsday" In the decade since this elegantly wrought tale appeared, a wealth of new discoveries has significantly broadened and refined our understanding of the four-billion-year journey that produced modern humans. Richard Dawkins and Yan Wong now update and revise this classic tale to include these fresh developments. Loosely based on the form of Chaucer s "Canterbury Tales, ""The Ancestor s Tale "presents an exhilarating reverse tour through evolution, from present-day humans back to the microbial beginnings of life. Throughout the journey, Dawkins and Wong spin entertaining, insightful stories and shed light on the most cutting-edge aspects of evolutionary history and theory. At once a survey of the latest, best thinking on biology and a fascinating history of all life on Earth, "The Ancestor s Tale" shows us how remarkable we are, how astonishing our history, and how intimate our relationship with the rest of the living world. As full and clear a picture of the way life developed on our planet as you are likely to find ... A splendid piece of writing. "Washington Post Book World" This is an ambitious and important book rich with fascinating insights. "New York Times" RICHARD DAWKINS is a world-renowned evolutionary biologist. He was educated at Oxford and taught zoology before becoming the first holder of the Charles Simonyi Chair of the Public Understanding of Science at Oxford University in 1995. His best-selling books, which rank among the most influential works of our time, include "The Selfish Gene, River Out of Eden, The God Delusion, "and "The Magic of Reality." His second memoir, "Brief Candle in the Dark, " was published in 2015. YAN WONG is an evolutionary biologist with a diverse range of interests. He was educated at Oxford, where Richard Dawkins was his tutor. He lectured in evolution at the University of Leeds before becoming a radio and television presenter, perhaps best known from the BBC One television show "Bang Goes the Theory." He collaborated with Richard Dawkins in preparing the first edition of this book, and has extensively revised this second edition. " --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.See all Product description
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"In a backward chronology, the ancestors of any set of species must eventually meet at a particular geological moment. Their point of rendezvous is the last common ancestor that they all share, what I shall call their `Concestor': the focal rodent or the focal mammal or the focal vertebrate, say. The oldest concestor is the grand ancestor of all surviving life."
And the oldest concestor, according to Dawkins, before animals and plants, before multicellularity, is the single cell progenitor bacteria.
"The analogy of insect colony to human body is often made, and it is not a bad one. The majority of our cells subjugate their individuality, devoting themselves to assisting the reproduction of the minority that are capable of it: `germ-line' cells in the testes or ovaries, whose genes are destined to travel, via sperm or eggs, into the distant future. But genetic relatedness is not the only basis for subjugation of individuality in fruitful division of labor. Any sort of mutual assistance, where each side corrects a deficiency in the other, can be favored by natural selection on both."
If I were stranded on an island with access to only one book, ANCESTOR'S TALE would easily be my first choice... - lc
The way Dawkins leads the reader through a backwards history of human evolution is original and amusing. The points he chooses as "rendevouz" are used to explain basic concepts in biology, evolution and related sciences, even good explanations on mathematical tools used in evolutionary studies.
After he completes the backwards journey to the origins of life, the last quarter of the book is a little "dry" to read, but this is probably a misperception due to the easy reading of the rest of the book.
A good reading for curious non-biologist and also for biologist looking for new ways to teach evolution.
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