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Modular Evolution: How Natural Selection Produces Biological Complexity

By: Lucio Vinicius

236 pages, 4 figs, 2 tabs

Cambridge University Press

Paperback | Jul 2010 | #186039 | ISBN-13: 9780521728775
Availability: Usually dispatched within 6 days Details
NHBS Price: £30.99 $41/€35 approx
Hardback | Jul 2010 | #186038 | ISBN-13: 9780521429641
Availability: Usually dispatched within 6 days Details
NHBS Price: £69.99 $92/€80 approx

About this book

Natural selection is more than the survival of the fittest: it is a force engendering higher biological complexity. Presenting a new explanation for the tendency of life to become more complex through evolution, this book offers an introduction to the key debates in evolutionary theory, including the role of genes and sex in evolution, the adaptive reasons for senescence and death and the origin of neural information.

The author argues that biological complexity increased through the process of 'modularity transfer': modular phenotypes (proteins, somatic cells, learned behaviours) evolved into new modular information carriers (regulatory proteins, neural cells, words), giving rise to new information systems and higher levels of biological organisation. Modular Evolution makes sense of the unique place of humans in evolution, both as the pinnacle of biological complexity and inventors of non-biological evolution.

Readers will be well rewarded by the nice representation of both sides of each controversial topic and the fresh perspective on biological complexity, especially those interested in an evolutionary perspective of development. Highly recommended. J.E. Platz, Creighton University for Choice Magazine "I found Modular Evolution to be interesting and informative... This book encourages us to continue to evaluate what we consider a "major transition" with an eye towards understanding the important development and evolutionary mechanisms that have led to complex and diverse phenotypes." Tami Cruickshank, Evolution & Development


Preface; 1. From natural selection to the history of nature; 2. From the units of inheritance to the origin of species; 3. Multicellularity and the developmental code; 4. Life cycle evolution: life and death of the soma; 5. Sex and its consequences: the transition that never happened; 6. Animal societies: the case of incomplete evolutionary transitions; 7. The new 'Chain of Being': hierarchical evolution and biological complexity; References; Index.

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Lucio Vinicius is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Leverhulme Centre for Human Evolutionary Studies in Cambridge, UK. He has published articles in various fields including life history evolution, Drosophila genetics, brain evolution and human growth.

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