Darwin's Lost World

The hidden history of animal life

Author: Martin Brasier

Publisher: OUP Oxford

ISBN: 0191613908

Category: Science

Page: 320

View: 5114

Darwin made a powerful argument for evolution in the Origin of Species, based on all the evidence available to him. But a few things puzzled him. One was how inheritance works - he did not know about genes. This book concerns another of Darwin's Dilemmas, and the efforts of modern palaeontologists to solve it. What puzzled Darwin is that the most very ancient rocks, before the Cambrian, seemed to be barren, when he would expect them to be teeming with life. Darwin speculated that this was probably because the fossils had not been found yet. Decades of work by modern palaeontologists have indeed brought us amazing fossils from far beyond the Cambrian, from the depths of the Precambrian, so life was certainly around. Yet the fossils are enigmatic, and something does seem to happen around the Cambrian to speed up evolution drastically and produce many of the early forms of animals we know today. In this book, Martin Brasier, a leading palaeontologist working on early life, takes us into the deep, dark ages of the Precambrian to explore Darwin's Lost World. Decoding the evidence in these ancient rocks, piecing together the puzzle of what happened over 540 million years ago to drive what is known as the Cambrian Explosion, is very difficult. The world was vastly different then from the one we know now, and we are in terrain with few familiar landmarks. Brasier is a master storyteller, and combines the account of what we now know of the strange creatures of these ancient times with engaging and amusing anecdotes from his expeditions to Siberia, Outer Mongolia, Barbuda, and other places, giving a vivid impression of the people, places, and challenges involved in such work. He ends by presenting his own take on the Cambrian Explosion, based on the picture emerging from this very active field of research. A vital clue involves worms - burrowing worms are one of the key signs of the start of the Cambrian. This is fitting: Darwin was inordinately fond of worms.
Posted in Science

Darwin's Devices

What Evolving Robots Can Teach Us About the History of Life and the Future of Technology

Author: John Long

Publisher: Basic Books

ISBN: 0465029280

Category: Science

Page: 288

View: 3495

What happens when we let robots play the game of life? The challenge of studying evolution is that the history of life is buried in the past—we can’t witness the dramatic events that shaped the adaptations we see today. But biorobotics expert John Long has found an ingenious way to overcome this problem: he creates robots that look and behave like extinct animals, subjects them to evolutionary pressures, lets them compete for mates and resources, and mutates their ‘genes’. In short, he lets robots play the game of life. In Darwin’s Devices, Long tells the story of these evolving biorobots—how they came to be, and what they can teach us about the biology of living and extinct species. Evolving biorobots can replicate creatures that disappeared from the earth long ago, showing us in real time what happens in the face of unexpected environmental challenges. Biomechanically correct models of backbones functioning as part of an autonomous robot, for example, can help us understand why the first vertebrates evolved them. But the most impressive feature of these robots, as Long shows, is their ability to illustrate the power of evolution to solve difficult technological challenges autonomously—without human input regarding what a workable solution might be. Even a simple robot can create complex behavior, often learning or evolving greater intelligence than humans could possibly program. This remarkable idea could forever alter the face of engineering, design, and even warfare. An amazing tour through the workings of a fertile mind, Darwin’s Devices will make you rethink everything you thought you knew about evolution, robot intelligence, and life itself.
Posted in Science

Darwin's Lost World

The hidden history of animal life

Author: Martin Brasier

Publisher: OUP Oxford

ISBN: 0191567736

Category: Science

Page: 304

View: 7413

Darwin made a powerful argument for evolution in the Origin of Species, based on all the evidence available to him. But a few things puzzled him. One was how inheritance works - he did not know about genes. This book concerns another of Darwin's Dilemmas, and the efforts of modern palaeontologists to solve it. What puzzled Darwin is that the most very ancient rocks, before the Cambrian, seemed to be barren, when he would expect them to be teeming with life. Darwin speculated that this was probably because the fossils had not been found yet. Decades of work by modern palaeontologists have indeed brought us amazing fossils from far beyond the Cambrian, from the depths of the Precambrian, so life was certainly around. Yet the fossils are enigmatic, and something does seem to happen around the Cambrian to speed up evolution drastically and produce many of the early forms of animals we know today. In this book, Martin Brasier, a leading palaeontologist working on early life, takes us into the deep, dark ages of the Precambrian to explore Darwin's Lost World. Decoding the evidence in these ancient rocks, piecing together the puzzle of what happened over 540 million years ago to drive what is known as the Cambrian Explosion, is very difficult. The world was vastly different then from the one we know now, and we are in terrain with few familiar landmarks. Brasier is a master storyteller, and combines the account of what we now know of the strange creatures of these ancient times with engaging and amusing anecdotes from his expeditions to Siberia, Outer Mongolia, Barbuda, and other places, giving a vivid impression of the people, places, and challenges involved in such work. He ends by presenting his own take on the Cambrian Explosion, based on the picture emerging from this very active field of research. A vital clue involves worms - burrowing worms are one of the key signs of the start of the Cambrian. This is fitting: Darwin was inordinately fond of worms.
Posted in Science

Eye of the Shoal

A Fishwatcher's Guide to Life, the Ocean and Everything

Author: Helen Scales

Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing

ISBN: 1472936833

Category: Science

Page: 288

View: 7587

Seventy per cent of the earth's surface is covered by water. This vast aquatic realm is inhabited by a multitude of strange creatures and reigning supreme among them are the fish. There are giants that live for centuries and thumb-sized tiddlers that survive only weeks; they can be pancake-flat or inflatable balloons; they can shout with colours or hide in plain sight, cheat and dance, remember and say sorry; some rarely budge while others travel the globe restlessly. And yet the mesmerising and complex lives of fish remain largely underrated and unseen, living hidden beneath the waterline, out of sight and out of mind. Helen Scales is our guide on an underwater journey, as we fathom the depths and watch these animals going about the glorious business of being fish. As well as the fish, we meet devoted fishwatchers past and present, from voodoo zombie potion hunters and scientists who taught fish how to walk to nonagenarian explorers of the deep sea. Woven throughout are vignettes of Helen's own aquatic explorations, from eerie nighttime dives with glowing fish and up-close encounters with giant manta rays, to floating in the middle of a swirling shoal being watched by thousands of inquisitive eyes. As well as being a rich and entertaining read, this book will inspire readers to think again about these animals and the seas they inhabit, and to go out and appreciate the wonders of fish, whether through the glass walls of an aquarium or, better still, by gazing into the fishes' wild world and swimming through it.
Posted in Science

Darwin's Sacred Cause

How a Hatred of Slavery Shaped Darwin's Views on Human Evolution

Author: Adrian Desmond,James Moore

Publisher: HMH

ISBN: 0547527756

Category: Biography & Autobiography

Page: 448

View: 719

An “arresting” and deeply personal portrait that “confront[s] the touchy subject of Darwin and race head on” (The New York Times Book Review). It’s difficult to overstate the profound risk Charles Darwin took in publishing his theory of evolution. How and why would a quiet, respectable gentleman, a pillar of his parish, produce one of the most radical ideas in the history of human thought? Drawing on a wealth of manuscripts, family letters, diaries, and even ships’ logs, Adrian Desmond and James Moore have restored the moral missing link to the story of Charles Darwin’s historic achievement. Nineteenth-century apologists for slavery argued that blacks and whites had originated as separate species, with whites created superior. Darwin, however, believed that the races belonged to the same human family. Slavery was therefore a sin, and abolishing it became Darwin’s sacred cause. His theory of evolution gave a common ancestor not only to all races, but to all biological life. This “masterful” book restores the missing moral core of Darwin’s evolutionary universe, providing a completely new account of how he came to his shattering theories about human origins (Publishers Weekly, starred review). It will revolutionize your view of the great naturalist. “An illuminating new book.” —Smithsonian “Compelling . . . Desmond and Moore aptly describe Darwin’s interaction with some of the thorniest social and political issues of the day.” —Wired “This exciting book is sure to create a stir.” —Janet Browne, Aramont Professor of the History of Science, Harvard University, and author of Charles Darwin: Voyaging
Posted in Biography & Autobiography

In Darwin's Shadow

The Life and Science of Alfred Russel Wallace: A Biographical Study on the Psychology of History

Author: Michael Shermer

Publisher: Oxford University Press

ISBN: 9780198033813

Category: Science

Page: 448

View: 7159

Virtually unknown today, Alfred Russel Wallace was the co-discoverer of natural selection with Charles Darwin and an eminent scientist who stood out among his Victorian peers as a man of formidable mind and equally outsized personality. Now Michael Shermer rescues Wallace from the shadow of Darwin in this landmark biography. Here we see Wallace as perhaps the greatest naturalist of his age--spending years in remote jungles, collecting astounding quantities of specimens, writing thoughtfully and with bemused detachment at his reception in places where no white man had ever gone. Here, too, is his supple and forceful intelligence at work, grappling with such arcane problems as the bright coloration of caterpillars, or shaping his 1858 paper on natural selection that prompted Darwin to publish (with Wallace) the first paper outlining the theory of evolution. Shermer also shows that Wallace's self-trained intellect, while powerful, also embraced surprisingly naive ideas, such as his deep interest in the study of spiritual manifestations and seances. Shermer shows that the same iconoclastic outlook that led him to overturn scientific orthodoxy as he worked in relative isolation also led him to embrace irrational beliefs, and thus tarnish his reputation. As author of Why People Believe Weird Things and founding publisher of Skeptic magazine, Shermer is an authority on why people embrace the irrational. Now he turns his keen judgment and incisive analysis to Wallace's life and his contradictory beliefs, restoring a leading figure in the rise of modern science to his rightful place.
Posted in Science

The Evolution of Beauty

How Darwin's Forgotten Theory of Mate Choice Shapes the Animal World - and Us

Author: Richard O. Prum

Publisher: Anchor

ISBN: 0385537220

Category: Science

Page: 448

View: 5757

A FINALIST FOR THE PULITZER PRIZE NAMED A BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR BY THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW, SMITHSONIAN, AND WALL STREET JOURNAL A major reimagining of how evolutionary forces work, revealing how mating preferences—what Darwin termed "the taste for the beautiful"—create the extraordinary range of ornament in the animal world. In the great halls of science, dogma holds that Darwin's theory of natural selection explains every branch on the tree of life: which species thrive, which wither away to extinction, and what features each evolves. But can adaptation by natural selection really account for everything we see in nature? Yale University ornithologist Richard Prum—reviving Darwin's own views—thinks not. Deep in tropical jungles around the world are birds with a dizzying array of appearances and mating displays: Club-winged Manakins who sing with their wings, Great Argus Pheasants who dazzle prospective mates with a four-foot-wide cone of feathers covered in golden 3D spheres, Red-capped Manakins who moonwalk. In thirty years of fieldwork, Prum has seen numerous display traits that seem disconnected from, if not outright contrary to, selection for individual survival. To explain this, he dusts off Darwin's long-neglected theory of sexual selection in which the act of choosing a mate for purely aesthetic reasons—for the mere pleasure of it—is an independent engine of evolutionary change. Mate choice can drive ornamental traits from the constraints of adaptive evolution, allowing them to grow ever more elaborate. It also sets the stakes for sexual conflict, in which the sexual autonomy of the female evolves in response to male sexual control. Most crucially, this framework provides important insights into the evolution of human sexuality, particularly the ways in which female preferences have changed male bodies, and even maleness itself, through evolutionary time. The Evolution of Beauty presents a unique scientific vision for how nature's splendor contributes to a more complete understanding of evolution and of ourselves.
Posted in Science

The Lost Species

Great Expeditions in the Collections of Natural History Museums

Author: Christopher Kemp

Publisher: University of Chicago Press

ISBN: 022638635X

Category: Science

Page: 256

View: 9936

The tiny, lungless Thorius salamander from southern Mexico, thinner than a match and smaller than a quarter. The lushly white-coated Saki, an arboreal monkey from the Brazilian rainforests. The olinguito, a native of the Andes, which looks part mongoose, part teddy bear. These fantastic species are all new to science—at least newly named and identified; but they weren’t discovered in the wild, instead, they were unearthed in the drawers and cavernous basements of natural history museums. As Christopher Kemp reveals in The Lost Species, hiding in the cabinets and storage units of natural history museums is a treasure trove of discovery waiting to happen. With Kemp as our guide, we go spelunking into museum basements, dig through specimen trays, and inspect the drawers and jars of collections, scientific detectives on the hunt for new species. We discover king crabs from 1906, unidentified tarantulas, mislabeled Himalayan landsnails, an unknown rove beetle originally collected by Darwin, and an overlooked squeaker frog, among other curiosities. In each case, these specimens sat quietly for decades—sometimes longer than a century—within the collections of museums, before sharp-eyed scientists understood they were new. Each year, scientists continue to encounter new species in museum collections—a stark reminder that we have named only a fraction of the world’s biodiversity. Sadly, some specimens have waited so long to be named that they are gone from the wild before they were identified, victims of climate change and habitat loss. As Kemp shows, these stories showcase the enduring importance of these very collections. The Lost Species vividly tells these stories of discovery—from the latest information on each creature to the people who collected them and the scientists who finally realized what they had unearthed—and will inspire many a museumgoer to want to peek behind the closed doors and rummage through the archives.
Posted in Science

Horseshoe Crabs and Velvet Worms

The Story of the Animals and Plants That Time Has Left Behind

Author: Richard Fortey

Publisher: Knopf

ISBN: 0307957411

Category: Science

Page: 352

View: 7653

From one of the world’s leading natural scientists and the acclaimed author of Trilobite!, Life: A Natural History of Four Billion Years of Life on Earth and Dry Storeroom No. 1 comes a fascinating chronicle of life’s history told not through the fossil record but through the stories of organisms that have survived, almost unchanged, throughout time. Evolution, it seems, has not completely obliterated its tracks as more advanced organisms have evolved; the history of life on earth is far older—and odder—than many of us realize. Scattered across the globe, these remarkable plants and animals continue to mark seminal events in geological time. From a moonlit beach in Delaware, where the hardy horseshoe crab shuffles its way to a frenzy of mass mating just as it did 450 million years ago, to the dense rainforests of New Zealand, where the elusive, unprepossessing velvet worm has burrowed deep into rotting timber since before the breakup of the ancient supercontinent, to a stretch of Australian coastline with stromatolite formations that bear witness to the Precambrian dawn, the existence of these survivors offers us a tantalizing glimpse of pivotal points in evolutionary history. These are not “living fossils” but rather a handful of tenacious creatures of days long gone. Written in buoyant, sparkling prose, Horseshoe Crabs and Velvet Worms is a marvelously captivating exploration of the world’s old-timers combining the very best of science writing with an explorer’s sense of adventure and wonder.
Posted in Science

The Evolution Underground: Burrows, Bunkers, and the Marvelous Subterranean World Beneath our Feet

Author: Anthony J. Martin

Publisher: Pegasus Books

ISBN: 1681773759

Category: Science

Page: 400

View: 5699

What is the best way to survive when the going gets tough? Hiding underground. From penguins to dinosaurs, trilobites, and humans, Anthony Martin reveals the subterranean secret of survival. Humans have “gone underground” for survival for thousands of years, from underground cities in Turkey to Cold War–era bunkers. But our burrowing roots go back to the very beginnings of animal life on earth. Without burrowing, the planet would be very different today. Many animal lineages alive now—including our own—only survived a cataclysmic meteorite strike 65 million years ago because they went underground. On a grander scale, the chemistry of the planet itself had already been transformed many millions of years earlier by the first animal burrows, which altered whole ecosystems. Every day we walk on an earth filled with an under-ground wilderness teeming with life. Most of this life stays hidden, yet these animals and their subterranean homes are ubiquitous, ranging from the deep sea to mountains, from the equator to the poles. Burrows are a refuge from predators, a safe home for raising young, or a tool to ambush prey. Burrows also protect animals against all types of natural disasters: fires, droughts, storms, meteorites, global warmings—and coolings. In a book filled with spectacularly diverse fauna, acclaimed paleontologist and ichnologist Anthony Martin reveals this fascinating, hidden world that will continue to influence and transform life on this planet.
Posted in Science

Wonderful Life: The Burgess Shale and the Nature of History

Author: Stephen Jay Gould

Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company

ISBN: 039330700X

Category: Fiction

Page: 347

View: 6251

A study of the Burgess Shale, a sea bed 530 million years old, and attempts to tackle what the findings are and what it means
Posted in Fiction

Earth System Evolution and Early Life

A Celebration of the Work of Martin Brasier

Author: A.T. Brasier,D. McIlroy,N. McLoughlin

Publisher: Geological Society of London

ISBN: 1786202794

Category: Science

Page: 440

View: 4347

This volume in memory of Professor Martin Brasier, which has many of his unfinished works, summarizes recent progress in some of the hottest topics in palaeobiology including cellular preservation of early microbial life and early evolution of macroscopic animal life, encompassing the Ediacara biota. The papers focus on how to decipher evidence for early life, which requires exceptional preservation, employment of state-of-the-art techniques and also an understanding gleaned from Phanerozoic lagerstätte and modern analogues. The papers also apply Martin’s MOFAOTYOF principle (my oldest fossils are older than your oldest fossils), requiring an integrated approach to understanding fossils. The adoption of the null-hypothesis that all putative traces of life are abiotic until proven otherwise, and the consideration of putative fossils within their spatial context, characterized the work of Martin Brasier, as is well demonstrated by the papers in this volume.
Posted in Science

What Darwin Got Wrong

Author: Jerry Fodor,Massimo Piattelli-Palmarini

Publisher: Profile Books

ISBN: 1847651909

Category: Science

Page: 262

View: 4604

Jerry Fodor and Massimo Piatelli-Palmarini, a distinguished philosopher and scientist working in tandem, reveal major flaws at the heart of Darwinian evolutionary theory. They do not deny Darwin's status as an outstanding scientist but question the inferences he drew from his observations. Combining the results of cutting-edge work in experimental biology with crystal-clear philosophical argument they mount a devastating critique of the central tenets of Darwin's account of the origin of species. The logic underlying natural selection is the survival of the fittest under changing environmental pressure. This logic, they argue, is mistaken. They back up the claim with evidence of what actually happens in nature. This is a rare achievement - the short book that is likely to make a great deal of difference to a very large subject. What Darwin Got Wrong will be controversial. The authors' arguments will reverberate through the scientific world. At the very least they will transform the debate about evolution.
Posted in Science

Disinformation Guide to Ancient Aliens, Lost Civilizations, Astonishing Archaeology and Hidden History

Author: Preston Peet

Publisher: Red Wheel Weiser

ISBN: 1609258673

Category: Body, Mind & Spirit

Page: 344

View: 5431

*Previously published as Underground! Where did "modern" civilization begin? What lies beneath the waves? Do myths describe interstellar impact? How'd they lift that stone? Was the Ark of the Covenant a mechanical device? Were there survivors of an Atlantean catastrophe? Who really discovered the "New" World? "Hidden history" continues to fascinate an ever wider audience. In this massive compendium, editor Preston Peet brings together an all-star cast of contributors to question established wisdom about the history of the world and its civilizations. Peet and anthology contributors guide us through exciting archeological adventures and treasure hunts, ancient mysteries, lost or rediscovered technologies, and assorted "Forteana," using serious scientific studies and reports, scholarly research, and some plain old fringe material, as what is considered "fringe" today is often hard science tomorrow. Contributors include: Graham Hancock (Fingerprints of the Gods and Underworld), David Hatcher Childress (Lost Cities and Civilizations series), Colin Wilson (From Atlantis to the Sphinx), Michael Cremo (Forbidden Archeology), William Corliss (Ancient Infrastructures), Robert Schoch (Voyages of the Pyramid Builders), John Anthony West (Serpent in the Sky), Michael Arbuthnot (Team Atlantis), Erich Von Daniken (Chariots of the Gods), and many more.
Posted in Body, Mind & Spirit

Popular Science

Author: Arthur Mee

Publisher: N.A

ISBN: N.A

Category: Science

Page: 5192

View: 9789

Posted in Science

Popular Science News

Author: N.A

Publisher: N.A

ISBN: N.A

Category: Chemistry

Page: N.A

View: 7009

Posted in Chemistry

The Book That Changed America

How Darwin's Theory of Evolution Ignited a Nation

Author: Randall Fuller

Publisher: Penguin

ISBN: 0698186672

Category: History

Page: 304

View: 7577

A compelling portrait of a unique moment in American history when the ideas of Charles Darwin reshaped American notions about nature, religion, science and race “A lively and informative history.” – The New York Times Book Review Throughout its history America has been torn in two by debates over ideals and beliefs. Randall Fuller takes us back to one of those turning points, in 1860, with the story of the influence of Charles Darwin’s just-published On the Origin of Species on five American intellectuals, including Bronson Alcott, Henry David Thoreau, the child welfare reformer Charles Loring Brace, and the abolitionist Franklin Sanborn. Each of these figures seized on the book’s assertion of a common ancestry for all creatures as a powerful argument against slavery, one that helped provide scientific credibility to the cause of abolition. Darwin’s depiction of constant struggle and endless competition described America on the brink of civil war. But some had difficulty aligning the new theory to their religious convictions and their faith in a higher power. Thoreau, perhaps the most profoundly affected all, absorbed Darwin’s views into his mysterious final work on species migration and the interconnectedness of all living things. Creating a rich tableau of nineteenth-century American intellectual culture, as well as providing a fascinating biography of perhaps the single most important idea of that time, The Book That Changed America is also an account of issues and concerns still with us today, including racism and the enduring conflict between science and religion.
Posted in History

Darwin's Ghosts

In Search of the First Evolutionists

Author: Rebecca Stott

Publisher: A&C Black

ISBN: 1408831015

Category: Biologists

Page: 383

View: 1341

An electrifying account of the extraordinary untold history behind Darwin's theory of evolution
Posted in Biologists