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  Topic: Endless Forms Most Beautiful, book review< Next Oldest | Next Newest >  
stevestory



Posts: 10127
Joined: Oct. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: June 26 2006,17:00   

Yesterday I bought Endless Forms Most Beautiful: The New Science of Evo Devo. I plan on reading it and posting comments here about each chapter as I finish them.

   
plasmasnake23



Posts: 42
Joined: June 2006

(Permalink) Posted: June 26 2006,18:21   

Evo-devo is cool stuff. I'd be interested in your opinion on how approachable it is given that I find development to be pretty tough material in general.

  
Ichthyic



Posts: 3325
Joined: May 2006

(Permalink) Posted: June 26 2006,20:09   

Certainly not required; but I would suggest to get the most out of that book, a companion book might be:

Developmental Biology  by Scott Gilbert.

not exactly light reading (as noted by plasma), but it's amazing how much more you will get out of a text on evo-devo if you've boned up on straight developmental biology first.

Of course, if you're really a masochist, a decent treatise on endocrinology might be useful as well.

meh, maybe a bit of biochem thrown in to boot.

They foisted this regime on me and called it "Integrative Biology" at Berkeley.

go figure ;)  (but they were right)

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Chris Hyland



Posts: 705
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: June 27 2006,02:46   

I highly recommend this book for anyone interested in the subject. It's aimed at the general reader, and no previous knowledge of developmental biology, genetics or evolutionary biololgy is required.

It's a great read, plus there's more fulfilled evolutionary predictions than you can shake a creationist at.

  
stevestory



Posts: 10127
Joined: Oct. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: June 27 2006,13:10   

I just finished ch 2. So here's the first installment.

The book makes excellent use of illustrations, right from the beginning, and the preface and introduction lay out the overview of the book in very clear language.

In chapter 1, Carroll introduces the idea of modularity in body construction, repetitious segments, for instance. One interesting thing he mentions is the historical pattern of repitition and then specialization. An animal's ancient ancestors might have had 40 copies of one type of tooth, whereas the decendant has 30 teeth of 5 different types. This sort of thing is so common, it has a name, Williston's Law. As a Panda's Thumb watcher, what I'm reminded of is the process of gene duplication. Introduce some redundancy, and then experiment with the redundant part. Very neat.

In chapter 2 he explores some of the early discoveries about polarity and asymmetry, how organisms are different from front to back, up to down, and in to out. Some bright embryologists spent their careers doing macabre experiments wherein they transplanted embryonic tissue from one place to another, and watched the result. By doing so they discovered some basic rules for how organisms lay the foundations of their body plans. Inducing things like polydactyly and eyespots showed how simple early changes could have large effects down the road. Apparently it was thought by some that these types of changes could lead to almost instant speciation, but this is no longer believed to be true. And it is discussed that embryology was so hard and late to develop, that it played almost no role even in the Modern Synthesis in the 40's, which came as a surprise to me.

   
Chris Hyland



Posts: 705
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: June 28 2006,02:09   

Which is why I get annoyed on UD when people use 'modern synthesis' as a strawman for modern evolutionary theory.

  
Lou FCD



Posts: 5402
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: June 28 2006,02:19   

Thanks for this, Steve.  I'll be keeping one eye on this thread.

If you get a moment, could you hit me with a little more detail on this:

Quote
And it is discussed that embryology was so hard and late to develop, that it played almost no role even in the Modern Synthesis in the 40's, which came as a surprise to me.

?

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