This book is aimed at students taking courses on evolution in universities and colleges. Its approach and its structure are very different from previously-published evolution texts. The core theme in this book is how evolution works by changing the course of embryonic and post-embryonic development. In other words, it is an evolution text that has been very much influenced by the new approach of evolutionary developmental biology, or 'evo-devo'.
Key themes include the following: developmental repatterning; adaptation and coadaptation; gene co-option; developmental plasticity; the origins of evolutionary novelties and body plans; and evolutionary changes in the complexity of organisms. As can be seen from this list, the book includes information across the levels of the gene, the organism, and the population. It also includes the issue of mapping developmental changes onto evolutionary trees. The examples used to illustrate particular points range widely, including animals, plants and fossils.
"Although this is a text intended for third level students and professional biologists, Prof Arthur's book brings anyone with more than a passing interest up to date on the mechanisms involved in evolution, and as he notes, we should go easy on the assumptions." (Science Spin, 1 May 2011)