427 pages, 257 b/w photos and b/w illustrations
Donald R. Prothero's Evolution is an entertaining and rigorous history of the transitional forms and series found in the the fossil record. Its engaging narrative of scientific discovery and well-grounded analysis has led to the book's widespread adoption in courses that teach the nature and value of fossil evidence. Evolution tackles flood geology, rock dating, neo-Darwinism, and macroevolution. It includes extensive coverage of the primordial soup, invertebrate transitions, the development of the backbone, the reign of the dinosaurs, and the transformation from chimpanzee to human. Evolution details the many "missing links", including some of the most recent discoveries, that flesh out the fossil timeline and the evolutionary process.
In this second edition, Prothero describes new transitional fossils from various periods, vividly depicting such bizarre creatures as the Odontochelys, or the "turtle on the half shell", fossil snakes with legs, and the "Frogamander", a new example of amphibian transition. Prothero's discussion of intelligent-design arguments includes more historical examples and careful examination of the "experiments" and observations that are exploited by creationists seeking to undermine sound science education. With new perspectives, Prothero reframes creationism more as a case study in denialism and pseudoscience than as a field with its own intellectual dynamism. The first edition was hailed as the best book on the fossil evidence for evolution, and this second edition will be welcome in the libraries of scholars, teachers, and general readers who stand up for sound science.
"If you're one of these people who likes to read Dawkins, Gould and Darwin, I would highly recommend this book. If you doubted that evolution was true before, and then you looked at this book, I don't see how you could possibly continue to question it."
– Jerry Coyne, author of Faith Versus Fact: Why Science and Religion Are Incompatible
Reviews of the first edition:
"This book demonstrates the importance of paleontology to the study of evolution."
– Publishers Weekly
"A must read [...] Brilliant and masterfully researched."
– Greg Sweatt, Fossil News
"Engagingly written and scientifically accurate [...] Highly recommended."
"This is one of the best books of its kind."
– Christopher diCarlo, Guelph Mercury
"The book is very valuable as a demonstration of the quality of the fossil record, which has improved dramatically in the past decade."
– Peter Dodson, Reports of the National Center for Science Education
"(T)o anyone who wishes to be informed on our current knowledge about fossils and their interpretation, and for anyone who is still not so sure whom to believe, this book will straighten things out and will be an unforgettable reading experience."
– Zentralblatt fur Geologie und Palaontologie
"This is a wonderful book that beautifully explains in layperson's terms the vast evidence for evolution in the paleontological record. Its publication comes at a critical time. By concentrating the diverse scientific literature into numerous lucid examples, Donald R. Prothero does the fields of geology, biology, and science education a major service. He provides a unique source that will be invaluable to college professors and high school teachers alike, and because his book provides abundant, clearly described examples of evolution in the fossil record, and also synthesizes important information about the Bible, it will make a valuable addition to any scientist's library."
– Bruce Lieberman, the University of Kansas
"Donald R. Prothero is not only one of the leading evolutionary scientists of our time, he writes with clarity and his prose sparkles. Prothero's book is more thorough and comprehensive than any other book for the general public on the evolution versus creationism controversy."
– Michael Shermer, publisher of Skeptic magazine, monthly columnist for Scientific American, and author of Why Darwin Matters: The Case Against Intelligent Design
Foreword: Why People Do Not Accept Evolution
To the Reader: Is Evolution a Threat to Your Religious Beliefs?
Prologue: Fossils and Evolution
Preface to the Second Edition
Part I: Evolution and the Fossil Record
1. The Nature of Science
2. Science and Creationism
3. The Fossil Record
4. The Evolution of Evolution
5. Systematics and Evolution
Part II: Evolution? The Fossils say YES!
6. Life’s Origins
7. Cambrian “Explosion”—or Slow Fuse?
8. Spineless Wonders of Evolution
9. Fish Tales
10. Fish Out of Water
11. Onto the Land and Back to the Sea: The Amniotes
12. Dinosaurs Evolve—and Fly
13. Mammalian Explosion
14. Bossies and Blowholes
15. The Ape’s Reflection?
16. Why Does It Matter?
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Donald R. Prothero has taught college paleontology and geology for almost four decades at the California Institute of Technology, Columbia University, Occidental College, Vassar College, and Knox College. He is adjunct professor of geological sciences at California State Polytechnic University at Pomona, adjunct professor of astronomy and earth sciences at Mt. San Antonio College, and research associate in vertebrate paleontology at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. His Columbia University Press books include The Story of Life in 25 Fossils: Tales of Intrepid Fossil Hunters and the Wonders of Evolution (2015) and Abominable Science! Origins of the Yeti, Nessie, and Other Famous Cryptids (2013).