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The Making of the Fittest: DNA and the Ultimate Forensic Record of Evolution

By: Sean B Carroll

332 pages, 50 b/w illus, colour plates

Quercus Publishing

Paperback | Jan 2009 | #177879 | ISBN-13: 9781847247247
Availability: Usually dispatched within 5 days Details
NHBS Price: £12.99 $17/€15 approx
Hardback | Feb 2008 | #170742 | ISBN-13: 9781847244765
Out of Print Details

About this book

DNA evidence not only solves crimes - if you know how to read it, it can also reveal the history of life on earth. This fast-paced book guides the general reader on a tour of the DNA record left by three billion years of evolution to see how the fittest were made. And what a eye-opening tour it is - one featuring immortal genes, fossil genes, and genes that bear the scars of past battles with terrible diseases. Natural selection eliminates harmful changes and embraces beneficial ones, and each change leaves its signature on a species' DNA codes. For example, the Antarctic ice fish today has no red blood cells; yet a fossilized gene for hemoglobin remains in its DNA, showing that the fish has adapted over 55 million years by losing the red blood cells that thicken blood and make it harder to pump in extreme cold. The fish has developed other features that allow it to absorb and circulate blood without hemoglobin.

Carroll points out that by examining the DNA of these ice fish species, it's possible to map its origins as well as the history of the South Atlantic's geology. He also uses dolphins, colobus monkeys, pigeons, fruit flys and microbes to demonstrate how deeply evolution is etched in DNA.

Reading The Making of the Fittest is like spending a few hours with an extremely knowledgeable and enthusiastic dinner companion - Washington Post


Preface Beyond Any Reasonable Doubt. Chapter 1 Introduction: The Bloodless Fish of Bouvet Island. Chapter 2 The Everyday Math of Evolution: Chance, Selection, and Time. Chapter 3 Immortal Genes: Running in Place for Eons. Chapter 4 Making the New from the Old. Chapter 5 Fossil Genes: Broken Pieces of Yesterday's Life. Chapter 6 Deja Vu: How and Why Evolution Repeats Itself. Chapter 7 Our Flesh and Blood: Arms Races, the Human Race, and Natural Selection. Chapter 8 The Making and Evolution of Complexity. Chapter 9 Seeing and Believing. Chapter 10 The Palm Trees of Wyoming. Sources and Further Reading. Acknowledgements. Index.

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Sean B. Carroll is an Investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Professor of Genetics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His scientific discoveries have been featured in Time and The New York Times, and Carroll himself has written articles for Natural History and Playboy. His first book, Endless Forms Most Beautiful was a 2005 Top Popular Science Book of the Year (USA Today). He and his wife and children reside in Madison, Wisconsin.

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