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The ancestor's tale : a pilgrimage to the dawn of evolution
Dawkins, Richard
Adult Nonfiction QH361 .D39 2004

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From Publishers' Weekly:

The diversity of the earth's plant and animal life is amazing especially when one considers the near certainty that all living things can trace their lineage back to a single ancestor a bacterium that lived more than three billion years ago. Taking his cue from Chaucer, noted Oxford biologist Dawkins (The Selfish Gene, etc.) works his way narratively backward through time. As the path reaches points where humanity's ancestors converge with those of other species primates, mammals, amphibians and so on various creatures have tales that carry an evolutionary lesson. The peacock, for example, offers a familiar opportunity to discuss sexual selection, which is soon freshly applied to the question of why humans started walking upright. These passages maintain an erudite yet conversational voice whether discussing the genetic similarities between hippos and whales (a fact "so shocking that I am still reluctant to believe it") or the existence of prehistoric rhino-sized rodents. The book's accessibility is crucial to its success, helping to convince readers that, given a time span of millions of years, unlikely events, like animals passing from one continent to another, become practically inevitable. This clever approach to our extended family tree should prove a natural hit with science readers. Agent, John Brockman. (Oct. 6) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

From Library Journal:

Because the DNA of humans and chimpanzees is so similar, the two species must have had a common ancestor in the recent evolutionary past. Even further back, prior species also went through a succession of earliest common ancestors, all the way to the bacterial origins of life on Earth. Blending tools of scientific rigor and theoretical frontiers, noted biologist and science writer Dawkins (The Selfish Gene) pushes deep into the evolutionary past, through 39 such "rendezvous points" where species coalesced, back to the original most common ancestors of all living things. He models this odyssey as a Chaucerian "pilgrimage," which at over 500 pages wears as a somewhat overwrought analogy of suspect literary effectiveness ("The Cauliflower's Tale"?). Still, the book's scope and provocativeness are truly worthy of epic treatment, and Dawkins is skilled in simultaneously conveying cutting-edge science to the public and also contributing to its advancement. For most libraries. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 6/15/04.] Gregg Sapp, Science Lib., SUNY at Albany (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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