Improbable Destinies: Fate, Chance, and the Future of Evolution by Jonathan B. Losos

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Read Improbable Destinies: Fate, Chance, and the Future of Evolution Online Free - A major new work overturning our assumptions about how evolution works

Earth's natural history is full of fascinating instances of convergence: phenomena like eyes and wings and tree-climbing lizards that have evolved independently, multiple times. But evolutionary biologists also point out many examples of contingency, cases where the tiniest change--a random mutation or an ancient butterfly sneeze--caused evolution to take a completely different course. What role does each force really play in the constantly changing natural world? Are the plants and animals that exist today, and we humans ourselves, inevitabilities or evolutionary freaks? And what does that say about life on other planets?

Jonathan Losos reveals what the latest breakthroughs in evolutionary biology can tell us about one of the greatest ongoing debates in science. He takes us around the globe to meet the researchers who are solving the deepest mysteries of life on Earth through their work in experimental evolutionary science. Losos himself is one of the leaders in this exciting new field, and he illustrates how experiments with guppies, fruit flies, bacteria, foxes, and field mice, along with his own work with anole lizards on Caribbean islands, are rewinding the tape of life to reveal just how rapid and predictable evolution can be.

Improbable Destinies will change the way we think and talk about evolution. Losos's insights into natural selection and evolutionary change have far-reaching applications for protecting ecosystems, securing our food supply, and fighting off harmful viruses and bacteria. This compelling narrative offers a new understanding of ourselves and our role in the natural world and the cosmos.

Title : Improbable Destinies: Fate, Chance, and the Future of Evolution
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 0399184929
Edition Language : English
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 384 pages


Brian rated it ★★★★☆

August 05, 2017

There's always a danger when a science author puts themselves at the heart of their book that it can come across as 'Me, me, me!' - but Jonathan Losos has a very amiable personal style that gives the impression of having a chat with the author over a beer - and some of the best parts of the book...

Chantal rated it ★★★★★

June 13, 2017

"Improbable Destinies" is personable, easy to follow, and fascinating - well-worth a read by anyone with at least a passing interest in biology and evolution. From beginning to end, Losos works hard to make the studies and theories in the book as vivid as possible. We get to meet the people behind...

Susan rated it ★★★★★

August 21, 2017

Splendorous! (lifted straight for the book,)accessible, informative and entertaining. Losos explains the many paths of evolutionary biology. convergence or or contingency. Kangaroos which are essentially deer have evolved nowhere but Australia. then of course there is the most interesting animal...

Vincent rated it ★★★★★

December 09, 2017

In 1989, the late Stephen Jay Gould published Wonderful Life, a book intended both for the general public and for professional scientists. In it, Gould presented his thesis that today's lifeforms are the result of a historical process founded on contingency, that is if we were to rewind the biolo...

Kimberly rated it ★★★★★

September 18, 2017

An excellent overview of convergent evolution, and of long term evolution experiments that put to the test Stephen Jay Gould's thought experiment of "rewinding the tape" of evolution to determine if we would get the same results (i.e. humans). Many times, convergence happens, but once in a while...

Tony rated it ★★★☆☆

January 03, 2018

IMPROBABLE DESTINIES: Fatge, Chance, and the Future of Evolution. (2017). Jonathan B. Losos. ***1/2. The author is a biology professor and director of the Losos Laboratory at Harvard University, and a curator of herpetology at the Harvard Museum. After spending the first part of the book relating...

Carl rated it ★★★★★

January 15, 2018

I was asked to read this book, and provided this blurb: "Is evolution a story foretold? Or is it little more than the rolls of DNA's dice? In Improbable Destinies, Jonathan Losos tackles these fascinating questions not with empty philosophizing, but with juicy tales from the front lines of scient...

Sara rated it ★★★★★

December 18, 2017

This book was so overlooked! It was really good. :) The book questions how ubiquitous convergent evolution is. He gives examples of convergent evolution in nature to demonstrate how surprisingly common it is for two unrelated lineages to adapt in the same way. He also speak to the speed of evolut...

Ann rated it ★★★★☆

October 10, 2017

A (long and chatty) narrative about whether Stephen J. Gould (in Wonderful Life) was right or not on the question if evolution would play out the same again if we could replay it from the start, or be quite different. Determinism, repeatability, or chance randomness? Interesting, but rather irrit...

Richard rated it ★★★☆☆

August 22, 2017

The late Stephen Jay Gould more than once observed that, were it possible to roll back time and re-run evolutionary history, we would most likely end up with very different results. Minor differences in circumstances can lead to very different evolutionary pathways. Others, most notably Simon Conw...

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