In The Selfish Gene, Richard Dawkins crystallized the gene's eye view of evolution developed by W.D. Hamilton and others. The Extended Phenotype provoked widespread and heated debate. Written in part as a response, The Extended Phenotype gave a deeper clarification of the central concept of the gene as the unit of selection; but it did much more besides. In it, Dawkins extended the gene's eye view to argue that the genes that sit within an organism have an influence that reaches out beyond the visible traits in that body – the phenotype – to the wider environment, which can include other individuals. So, for instance, the genes of the beaver drive it to gather twigs to produce the substantial physical structure of a dam; and the genes of the cuckoo chick produce effects that manipulate the behaviour of the host bird, making it nurture the intruder as one of its own. This notion of the extended phenotype has proved to be highly influential in the way we understand evolution and the natural world. It represents a key scientific contribution to evolutionary biology, and it continues to play an important role in research in the life sciences.
The Extended Phenotype is a conceptually deep book that forms important reading for biologists and students. But Dawkins' clear exposition is accessible to all who are prepared to put in a little effort.
Oxford Landmark Science books are 'must-read' classics of modern science writing which have crystallized big ideas, and shaped the way we think.
1: Necker Cubes and Buffaloes
2: Genetic Determinism and Gene Selectionism
3: Constraints on Perfection
4: Arms Races and Manipulation
5: The Active Germ-Line Replicator
6: Organisms, Groups and Memes: Replicators or Vehiclesa
7: Selfish Wasp or Selfish Strategya
8: Outlaws and Modifiers
9: Selfish DNA, Jumping Genes, and a Lamarckian Scare
10: An Agony in Five Fits
11: The Genetic Evolution of Animal Artefacts
12: Host Phenotypes of Parasite Genes
13: Action at a Distance
14: Rediscovering the Organism; References
Afterword by Daniel Dennett
Professor Richard Dawkins is one of the most influential science writers and communicators of our generation. He was the first holder of the Charles Simonyi Chair of the Public Understanding of Science at Oxford, a position he held from 1995 until 2008, and is Emeritus Fellow of New College, Oxford. His bestselling books include The Selfish Gene (1976), The Extended Phenotype (1982) and its sequel The Blind Watchmaker (1986), River Out of Eden (1995), Climbing Mount Improbable (1996), Unweaving the Rainbow (1998), A Devil's Chaplain (2004), The Ancestor's Tale (2004), and The God Delusion (2007). He has won many literary and scientific awards, including the 1987 Royal Society of Literature Award, the 1990 Michael Faraday Award of the Royal Society, the 1994 Nakayama Prize for Human Science, the 1997 International Cosmos Prize, and the Nierenberg Prize for Science in the Public Interest in 2009.
"This entertaining and thought-provoking book is an excellent illustration of why the study of evolution is in such an exciting ferment these days."
"The Extended Phenotype is a sequel to The Selfish Gene [...] he writes so clearly it could be understood by anyone prepared to make the effort"
– John Maynard Smith, London Review of Books
"Dawkins is quite incapable of being boring this characteristically brilliant and stimulating book is original and provocative throughout, and immensely enjoyable."
– G. A. Parker, Heredity
"The extended phenotype is certainly a big idea and it is pressed hard in dramatic language."
– Sydney Brenner, Nature
"Richard Dawkins, our most radical Darwinian thinker, is also our best science writer."
– Douglas Adams
"Dawkins is a superb communicator. His books are some of the best books ever written on science."
– Megan Tressider, Guardian
"Dawkins is a genius of science popularization."
– Mark Ridley, The Times