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The Kingfisher Book of Evolution


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Part 1 The idea of evolution: the Ancient Greeks; the age of Christianity; the rise of science; revolutionary ideas; Darwin and "The Beagle"; "The Origin of Species"; the last 100 years. Part 2 Evolution explained: principles of heredity; variation; population; adaptation; the formation of new species; the evolution of sex; problems of evidence 1; problems of evidence 2. Part 3 The history of life: life begins; life in the sea; land invasion 1 - plants; land invasion 2 - vertebrates; dinosaurs; mammals; life in the air; the whole story. Part 4 Evolution of behaviour: cooperation; sex and parental care; hunting and feeding; aggression; migration; communication. Part 5 The evolution of people: on being human; apes to australopithicine; the first humans; the spread of "homo sapiens"; "homo sapiens" and neanderthals; brain and language. Part 6 The future of evolution: genomes and gene therapy; xenotransplantation and cloning; people and the world; evolution after humans; future evolution of man; alien evolution.


Gr 5-9-This ambitious undertaking attempts to be all encompassing, but it is fragmentary and simplistic. Going beyond the basic tenet of explaining the complexities of evolution, Webster includes a section on future evolutionary trends as well, incorporating cloning and gene therapy, the possible direction of human evolution, and even includes "alien" evolutionary possibilities. Divided into double-page "chapters" that constrict the information flow, the text is further broken down into captions and headed paragraphs. Certain complex concepts do not fare well with such oversimplification. Take, for example, the assertion that "All mammals are intelligent creatures, good parents, and very sociable-." Intelligent probably, but not always good parents (watch the nightly news), and not always sociable (North American badgers, grizzly bears, and most wild felines, to name a few, tend to be loners). The glossary defines an atom as "The smallest particle of matter." The artwork, some of which is merely decorative, consists of a plethora of photos, colorful illustrations, and diagrams scattered on every page. Some of the diagrams-e.g., that of migrating arctic terns-are a tad confusing. There is food for the mind here, if properly sifted. Linda Gamlin's eye-catching Evolution (DK, 1993) is less ambitious though the format is similar and works better, and Alvin Silverstein's Evolution (21st Century, 1998) is far less visual, but has a smoother flow of text. In many areas of the country, the subject is still a very sticky wicket, and the topic demands the best presentation possible. This is not it.-Patricia Manning, formerly at Eastchester Public Library, NY Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

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