Evolution: A Very Short Introduction

Evolution: A Very Short Introduction

Brian Charlesworth

Language: English

Pages: 168

ISBN: 0192802518

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


This book illuminates the crucial role of evolutionary biology in transforming our view of human origins and our relation to the universe, highlighting the impact of this theory on traditional philosophy and religion. The authors introduce the general reader to some of the most important basic findings, concepts, and procedures of evolutionary biology, as it has developed since the first publications of Darwin and Wallace on the subject, over 140 years ago. They show how evolution provides a unifying set of principles for the whole of biology and sheds light on the relation of human beings to the universe and each other.

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Mutations and their effects Despite the proof-reading mechanisms that correct errors when DNA is copied during cell division, mistakes do occur, and these are the source of mutations. If a mutation results in a change in the amino acid sequence of a protein, the protein may malfunction; for example, it may not fold up correctly and so may be unable to do its job properly. If it is an enzyme, this can cause the metabolic pathway to which it belongs to run slowly, or not at all, as in the case

habitable world forms a minute part of a universe of immense size and duration. Whatever the religious or philosophical beliefs of individual scientists, the whole programme of scientific research is founded on the assumption that the universe can be understood on such a basis. Few would dispute that this programme has been spectacularly successful, particularly in the 20th century, which saw such terrible events in human affairs. The influence of science may have indirectly contributed to

its flowers show several adaptations for bee pollination (see the table on page 97). Unusually for a monkeyflower, M. cardinalis is pollinated by hummingbirds, and its flowers differ in several characteristics that promote pollination by hummingbirds. M. cardinalis thus probably evolved from a bee-pollinated ancestor, similar in appearance to M. lewisii, by a process of changing these flower characteristics. Floral characteristics of two Mimulus species The two monkeyflower species can be

REVOLUTION William Doyle FREUD Anthony Storr GALILEO Stillman Drake GANDHI Bhikhu Parekh GLOBALIZATION Manfred Steger HEGEL Peter Singer HEIDEGGER Michael Inwood HINDUISM Kim Knott HISTORY John H. Arnold HOBBES Richard Tuck HUME A. J. Ayer IDEOLOGY Michael Freeden INDIAN PHILOSOPHY Sue Hamilton INTELLIGENCE Ian J. Deary ISLAM Malise Ruthven JUDAISM Norman Solomon JUNG Anthony Stevens KANT Roger Scruton

detergents snip up proteins (such as blood and sweat proteins) into small pieces that can be washed out of dirty clothes; similar enzymes in our gut break molecules in food into smaller pieces that can be taken up by cells. Other proteins in living organisms have storage or transport functions. The haemoglobin in red blood cells carries oxygen, and in the liver a protein called ferritin binds and stores iron. There are also structural proteins, such as the keratin that forms skin, hair, and

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