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Academic & Professional Books  Evolutionary Biology  Evolution

Evolution: Making Sense of Life

By: Carl Zimmer(Author), Douglas J Emlen(Author)
707 pages, colour & b/w photos, colour illustrations, colour tables
Evolution: Making Sense of Life
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  • Evolution: Making Sense of Life ISBN: 9781936221554 Edition: 2 Paperback Aug 2015 Usually dispatched within 6 days
Selected version: £58.99
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About this book

Science writer Carl Zimmer and evolutionary biologist Douglas Emlen have produced a thoroughly revised new edition of their widely praised evolution textbook. Emlen, an award-winning evolutionary biologist at the University of Montana, has infused Evolution: Making Sense of Life with the technical rigor and conceptual depth that today's biology majors require. Zimmer, an award-winning New York Times columnist, brings compelling storytelling to the book, bringing evolutionary research to life. Students will learn the fundamental concepts of evolutionary theory, such as natural selection, genetic drift, phylogeny, and coevolution. Evolution: Making Sense of Life also drives home the relevance of evolution for disciplines ranging from conservation biology to medicine. With riveting stories about evolutionary biologists at work everywhere from the Arctic to tropical rainforests to hospital wards, Evolution: Making Sense of Life is a reading adventure designed to grab the imagination of students, showing them exactly why it is that evolution makes such brilliant sense of life.


1. The Whale and the Virus: How Scientists Study Evolution
2. From Natural Philosophy to Darwin: A Brief History of Evolutionary Ideas
3. What the Rocks Say: How Geology and Paleontology Reveal the History of Life
4. The Tree of Life: How Biologists Use Phylogeny to Reconstruct the Deep Past
5. Raw Material: Heritable Variation among Individuals
6. The Ways of Change: Drift and Selection
7. Beyond Alleles: Quantitative Genetics and the Evolution of Phenotypes
8. Natural Selection: Empirical Studies in the Wild
9. The History in Our Genes
10. Adaptation: From Genes to Traits
11. Sex: Causes and Consequences
12. After Conception: The Evolution of Life History and Parental Care
13. The Origin of Species
14. Macroevolution: The Long Run
15. Intimate Partnership: How Species Adapt to Each Other
16. Minds and Microbes: The Evolution of Behavior
17. Human Evolution: A New Kind of Ape
18. Evolutionary Medicine

Customer Reviews


Carl Zimmer is one of the country’s leading science writers. A columnist for The New York Times and a regular contributor to magazines such as Scientific American and National Geographic, he is the author of thirteen books, including The Tangled Bank: An Introduction to Evolution and A Planet of Viruses. Zimmer is a lecturer at Yale University, where he teaches science writing. He is a three-time winner of the American Association for the Advancement of Science Journalism Award and the winner of the National Academies Communication Award. In 2015, he was awarded the Distinguished Service Award by the National Association of Biology Teachers.

Douglas J. Emlen is a professor at the University of Montana. He is the recipient of the Presidential Early Career Award in Science and Engineering from the Office of Science and Technology Policy at the White House, multiple research awards from the National Science Foundation, including their five-year CAREER award, and a Young Investigator Prize and the E. O. Wilson Naturalist Award from the American Society of Naturalists. He is the author of Animal Weapons: The Evolution of Battle and his research has been featured in outlets including the New York Times and National Public Radio’s Fresh Air and Science Friday.

By: Carl Zimmer(Author), Douglas J Emlen(Author)
707 pages, colour & b/w photos, colour illustrations, colour tables
Media reviews

"Zimmer is the master of taking current primary literature and making it come alive."
– Mathew J. Miller, Villanova University

"I think evolution has never before been presented with such clarity and in this engaging way to college students – it is a joy to teach from this textbook. Real-life research stories are coupled with examples such as the development of antibiotic resistant bacteria in our bodies, how some dinosaurs became birds, and arms-race evolution involving toxic newts and snakes. This book gives us a fantastic introduction to the never-ending, billion-year old saga of life on Earth – how it came to be and what is going on."
– Lena Struwe, Rutgers University

"Exciting is a word not often used to describe a new textbook. But by using powerful examples, beautiful images, and finely wrought prose, Zimmer and Emlen have produced a book that not only conveys the explanatory power of evolution, but is also permeated with the joy of doing science. Their text can only be described as an exciting moment for our field: it is an important accomplishment for our students and for evolutionary biology at large."
– Neil Shubin, University of Chicago

"This is not your grandmother's evolution text. Breathtakingly illustrated, this book covers not only the usual topics in evolution – adaptation, drift, phylogenetic analysis – but also a host of new and exciting areas where groundbreaking research is occurring. It also shows how evolutionary biology is done, with glimpses of the real people behind the discoveries."
– Marlene Zuk, University of Minnesota

"If there was ever a book that makes it obvious why evolution is a fascinating topic – and a topic that goes to the core of understanding what biology is about – this is it. It truly makes you better understand and appreciate the biological world around us."
– Svante Pääbo, Director, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology

"I think my students will be genuinely more at ease with their reading assignments and more able to assimilate and retain information from this text. The authors use their expert narrative skills to focus on the big conceptual ideas, which is what matters most in my students' long-term education."
– Bronwyn H. Bleakley, Stonehill College

"A richly illustrated and very clearly written text, Evolution: Making Sense of Life brings forth the excitement, power, and importance of modern evolutionary biology in an accessible, yet sophisticated overview of the field."
– Sean B. Carroll, University of Wisconsin, Madison

"Evolution: Making Sense of Life provides a comprehensive and compelling overview of the field of evolutionary biology. The text contains beautiful illustrations and up-to-date examples from recent research articles. The depth and breadth of the material, ranging from bacteria to humans, will be of interest to students, faculty, and the general public alike."
– Sarah Tishkoff, University of Pennsylvania

"Two master craftsmen in the art of scientific communication have combined to produce an excellent basic text on Evolution: it informs, explains, teaches, and inspires. The illustrations are outstanding."
– Peter R. Grant, Princeton University

"Carl Zimmer and Douglas Emlen have captured in this stunning new book the excitement and richness of twenty-first-century evolutionary biology. They describe clearly and elegantly not only what, but also how, we are learning about evolutionary processes and the patterns they produce. The writing is compelling, the illustrations beautiful and truly informative, and the balance between breadth and depth of discussion on each topic just right. This is a book that would make anyone think about becoming an evolutionary biologist, today."
– John N. Thompson, University of California, Santa Cruz

"Beautifully written and lavishly illustrated, here's a superb textbook that can do double duty gracing the coffee table. This book is bound to attract many more students into the field of evolutionary biology."
– Richard E. Lenski, Michigan State University

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