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A Remarkable Journey

The Story of Evolution

Charles Darwin published On the Origin of Species a little over one hundred and fifty years ago, and it changed everything. But many don’t realize that it took Darwin over twenty years to develop his theory, that others had been advocating a similar theory before him, and many others have been developing it since. In A Remarkable Journey, R. Paul Thompson tells the story of evolutionary theory, of the empirical and theoretical discoveries and the endless heated debates that have led to our understanding of it today.
As Thompson shows, the tortuous path from Darwin’s brilliant formulation to today’s robust and vibrant model is filled with intrigue. Evolutionary theory has become, in many respects, the center of biological science, and its maturation is an indication of a larger and more sophisticated scientific understanding more generally. But this development was not easily won, a point Thompson makes clear as he takes readers from one stage of the theory’s maturation to the next, detailing all that went into the development of what most of us now take for granted as a basic—and beautiful—principle of life. 

160 pages | 50 halftones | 5 1/2 x 8 1/2 | © 2015

Biological Sciences: Evolutionary Biology

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“An engaging account of the diverse people, observations, experiments, analyses, and controversies that led to an increasingly cohesive theory. This is all accomplished in a more lucid and readable manner than has been done in previous publications, resulting in a comprehensive overview of people’s understanding of evolution. Thompson covers Darwin’s precursors, Darwin himself, the contributions from biometrics, Mendel, the modern synthesis, the discovery and role of DNA, sociobiology, and evo-devo. The latter two are arguably covered too briefly, but that is a minor complaint for a major accomplishment. . . . Highly recommended.”


“Evolutionary science is over 150 years old now. Thompson’s book, A Remarkable Journey: The Story of Evolution, gives a delightful overview of how it was born, how it struggled through adolescence, and how it reached the mature state one can witness today. The book explains the main ideas and introduces the key scientists in a way that makes it an interesting read, both for non-scientists and for scholars from outside biology. But it is also of interest to professional biologists, because the history of science is usually only briefly touched upon in the standard curriculum. Many of the blind alleys and wrong paths taken in earlier stages of science tend to be forgotten, but they still provide valuable lessons for practicing scientists.”


Table of Contents

1. Prologue
2. A New Dawn: Darwin Transforms Biology
3. Missing Pieces: Heredity and Variation
4. Mendel Unlocks one of Nature’s Secrets
5. Troubled Waters
6. A Bridge over Troubled Water
7. Evolutionary Biology Comes of Age
8. Extending Genetics: The Molecular and Chemical Basis of Heredity and Life
9. The Evaluation of Behaviour: Sociobiology
10. Development: From Genes to Organisms
11. Science and the Death Throes of Biblical Literalism

Photo Acknowledgements

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