Endless Forms Most Beautiful: The New Science of Evo Devo and the Making of the Animal Kingdom Paperback – 6 Jan 2011
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'Sean B. Carroll is the ideal author to lead the curious on this intellectual adventure - he is the acknowledged leader of the field' Lewis Wolpert. (Lewis Wolpert)
'Impressively skilful first book' Independent. (Independent)
'A first-rate introduction to Evo Devo' Nature. (Nature)
'Carroll... writes in a lively style, peppering the book with endlessly fascinating examples' Scientific American. (Scientific American)
'Provides an essential glimpse into both the creation of life and the excitement of scientific discovery' Sunday Telegraph. (Sunday Telegraph)
'Makes Evo Devo accessible to a wider readership ... Carroll does it splendidly' Guardian. (Guardian)
Sean Carroll explores how evolution has shaped nature's wondrous complexity and diversity, from insects to octopuses, from mice to men.See all Product description
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For too long the sciences of 'genetics' and 'developmental biology' were separated. 'Evolutionary developmental biology' or 'Evo-Devo' brings them back together with embryology as a central focus. Carroll is unquestionably a world leader in this relatively new field, and so is well positioned to write such a book.
The book is split broadly into two sections. First, Carroll describes the development of organisms. This makes readers familiar with genes, gene expression, and gene regulation. He introduces 'tool-kit' genes; those which do specific jobs during development, and then explains how changing when and where they are expressed can change the final developmental outcome. The context of gene expression is all important. In the second part of the book, Carroll moves into proper evolutionary biology but always from an Evo-Devo angle. He talks about changes in limb structures, segmentation, and butterfly wing patterns - all of which are neatly explained by changing the patterns of expression of 'tool-kit' genes.
I still meet people who consider themselves well versed in evolutionary biology but who don't know the first thing about developmental biology. Evolution is the change in development over time. Having one without the other is like being a physicist without knowing any maths - it's just silly. This book, more than other popular science evolution texts (I'm thinking Dawkins, Gould, Zimmer... the list is long) really brings development into focus and keeps it there as a central theme. For that reason, this is an important book and not just another evolution pop-sci.
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