The Ancestor's Tale is a pilgrimage back through time; a journey on which we meet up with fellow pilgrims as we and they converge on our common ancestors. Chimpanzees join us at about 6 million years in the past, gorillas at 7 million years, orang utans at 14 million years, as we stride on together, a growing band. The journey provides the setting for a collection of some 40 tales. Each explores an aspect of evolutionary biology through the stories of characters met along the way or glimpsed from afar – the Elephant Bird's Tale, the Marsupial Mole's Tale, the Lungfish's Tale. Together they give a deep understanding of the processes that have shaped life on Earth: convergent evolution, the isolation of populations, continental drift, the great extinctions. The tales are interspersed with prologues detailing the journey, route maps showing joining lineages, and life-like reconstructions of our common ancestors. The Ancestor's Tale represents a pilgrimage on an unimaginable scale: our goal is four billion years away, and the number of pilgrims joining us grows vast – ultimately encompassing all living creatures. At the end of the journey lies something remarkable in its simplicity and transformative power: the first, humble, replicating molecules.
"[...] Dawkins is unequalled in his ability to express complex ideas in layman's terms without sounding patronising."
– Simon Shaw, Mail on Sunday
"more readable than almost anyone else, a master of liquid-clear prose and revleatory pearls of insight."
– David Smith, The Observer
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Richard Dawkins is an evolutionary biologist renowned throughout the world. He was educated at Oxford where he did his doctorate under the nobel-prize winning ethologist Niko Tinbergen. From 1967-1969 he was an Assistant Professor at the University of California at Berkley. Since 1995 he has been Charles Simonyi Professor of the Public Understanding of Science at Oxford University. His books rank among the most influential intellectual works of our time.
Yan Wong is an evolutionary biologist who studies the theoretical underpinnings of life. He is also a radio and television presenter, perhaps best known from the BBC One television show Bang Goes the Theory.