Evolution: The First Four Billion Years

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Harvard University Press, 2009 - Science - 979 pages
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Spanning evolutionary science from its inception to its latest findings, from discoveries and data to philosophy and history, this book is the most complete, authoritative, and inviting one-volume introduction to evolutionary biology available. Clear, informative, and comprehensive in scope, Evolution opens with a series of major essays dealing with the history and philosophy of evolutionary biology, with major empirical and theoretical questions in the science, from speciation to adaptation, from paleontology to evolutionary development (evo devo), and concluding with essays on the social and political significance of evolutionary biology today.

A second encyclopedic section travels the spectrum of topics in evolution with concise, informative, and accessible entries on individuals from ≠Aristotle and Linneaus to Louis Leakey and Jean Lamarck; from T. H. Huxley and E. O. Wilson to Joseph Felsenstein and Motoo Kimura; and on subjects from altruism and amphibians to evolutionary psychology and Piltdown Man to the Scopes trial and social Darwinism. Readers will find the latest word on the history and philosophy of evolution, the nuances of the science itself, and the intricate interplay among evolutionary study, religion, philosophy, and ≠society.

Appearing at the beginning of the Darwin Year of 2009—the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin and the 150th anniversary of the publication of the Origin of Species—this volume is a fitting tribute to the science Darwin set in motion.


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Evolution: the first four billion years

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The "long argument" over Darwinian theory has spawned unending commentary, spilling out of the natural sciences into varied realms of the social sciences and humanities. Ruse and Travis (Florida State ... Read full review

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If I told you once, I told you a million times:
It’s The Horses Pulling, Not The Wagon Pushing
Lasting Evolutionary Change Takes About One Million Years
“The exact cause of these long-term, persistent evolutionary changes is not certain.”
Getting Inside the Mind (and Up the Nose) of Our Ancient Ancestors
“"This is the first real evidence for the steps that led to the evolutionary origin of jawed vertebrates.”
Right-Handedness Evolution
by dovhenis on March 24, 2011
Right-Handedness Evolution
Culture-Genetics Relationship
Nov 12 2009 (http://www.the-scientist.com/community/posts/list/220/122.page)
A. From "Aping the Stone Age"
Chimp chasers join artifact extractors to probe the roots of stone tools:
Converging lines of evidence indicate that wild chimps indeed invent distinctive types of tools within communities, and these tools get passed from one generation to the next as a kind of cultural legacy.
For roughly 50,000 generations, Oldowan toolmaking techniques got passed from hominid experts to novices. In recent experiments, it was found that captive chimps display a similar capacity for learning how to use tools by observing more experienced comrades.
One of the projects combines chimp, hominid and modern human data to explore the enduring mystery of why most people are right-handed. Judging by stone tools, by at least 120,000 years ago right-handedness frequently occurred among Neandertals, and archaeological record from ancient Homo sapiens that lived during the same time as Neandertals shows similar signs of a right-handed skew. Most Oldowan toolmakers from nearly 2 million years ago were probably right-handed. However, whereas wild chimp communities display a variety of hand preferences, a trend of relatively stronger right- and left-handedness does appear in chimp groups that regularly use tools, such as nut-cracking stones or sticks for poking into termite mounds to remove the edible insects.
Researchers suspect that "specific genes contribute to human hand preferences". Uomini hypothesizes that people and chimps share a genetic propensity to use one hand more than another on tasks that demand dexterity. Genes for right-handedness, though, have evolved in humans alone, she proposes.
B. Adnauseam, it is culture that drives genetic changes, NOT genetics that drives cultural changes
"Specific genes contribute to human hand preferences"? Read this above abstract again and again. Note: First comes culture. Genetics follows culture. Genes propagate in an expression conformation that maintains their evolved energy constraint level. If/when their higher stratum take-off organism attains an enhanced level of energy constraint the genes modify their expressions accordingly. This is the drive and direction of life's evolution. This is how the horses are harnessed, to the front of the wagon, not to the rear.
C. And also adnauseam, right-handedness is NOT an enduring mystery
Just as life's chirality was the best energy-constraining product of the early organisms, direct sun-energy fueled independent RNA genes, and therefore it was selected to survive, so a preferred-tools-handedness proved energetically advantageous, and since it happened to start with right-handedness it has been since then inducing genetic expression adjustment. And since humans, and even primates, are just fresh young novel organisms on Earth, the process is still going on, not yet completed. Just wait and see. When you return to Earth one-two million years from now you'll hardly find any left-handed people.
Dov Henis
(Comments From The 22nd Century)


The History of Evolutionary Thought
The Origin of Life
Paleontology and the History of Life
Molecular Evolution
Evolution of the Genome
The Pattern and Process of Speciation
Evolution and Development
Understanding Biological Forms
Philosophy of Evolutionary Thought
Evolution and Society
Evolution and Religion
Retrospect and Prospect
Alphabetical Guide
Illustration Credits

Social Behavior and Sociobiology
Human Evolution
Evolutionary Biology of Disease and Darwinian Medicine

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About the author (2009)

Michael Ruse is Lucyle T. Werkmeister Professor of Philosophy and Director of the Program in the History and Philosophy of Science, Florida State University. He is the founder and editor of the journal Biology and Philosophy, and has appeared on ‚eoeQuirks and Quarks‚e and the Discovery Channel.

Joseph Travis is Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and Robert O. Lawton Distinguished Professor of Biological Science at Florida State University.

He was born in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1929. He is currently Pellegrino University Research Professor & Honorary Curator in Entomology of the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard. He is on the Board of Directors of the Nature Conservancy, Conservation International & the American Museum of Natural History. He lives in Lexington, Massachusetts.

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