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Do similarities exist between the ways the living and nonliving worlds function and evolve?
In The Pattern of Evolution, Niles Eldredge – one of the world's most accomplished scientific thinkers – examines the history of ideas on evolution from the beginning of the modern scientific era about two centuries ago to the present. Seizing on evidence of similar patterns across disciplines, he shows how key issues and events have brought us to the brink of a more comprehensive understanding of the Earth. Eldredge believes that exploring these similarities will lead to the realization that biological evolution is driven by the same underlying forces that shape the geology of our planet.
Full of fascinating events, from global geologic catastrophes and mass extinctions to the fine-scale events of day-to-day ecology, The Pattern of Evolution explores the Earth's past to explain its present, and to light the way toward the future. But it also tells the story of modern science itself – an intellectual "system" that has had to diversify and subdivide in order to advance. The result is a fascinating exploration of the way we investigate and understand the evolution of Earth and the life on it.
"Eldredge's book is well endowed with notes and a comprehensive bibliography, and it should be thoroughly accessible to anyone with a basic knowledge of Darwin's and Lamarck's theories. But if they come away with new insights into the history of life, I fear that it will be through being seduced by poetry rather than being convinced by scientific evidence."
- R.McNeill Alexander, Professor of Zoology, Leeds University