By: JM Smith and Eörs Szathmáry
384 pages, 90 illus
During evolution there have been several major changes in the way genetic information is organised and transmitted from one generation to the next. These transitions include the origin of life itself, the first eukaryotic cells, reproduction by sexual means, the appearance of multicellular plants and animals, the emergence of cooperation and of animal societies, and the unique language ability of humans. A common theme in the book is that entities that could replicate independently before the transition can replicate afterwards only as part of a larger whole. Why, then, does selection between entities at the lower level not disrupt selection at the higher level? In answering this question, the distinguished authors offer an explanation for the evolution of cooperation at all levels of complexity.
It spans the major transitions in evolution, starting with a prebiotic mix of free molecules and ending with the evolution of human language . . . . A splendid and rewarding tour de force.--Nature
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