Evolution: A Scientific American Reader

I bought this book while browsing the book section of the gift shop at the Museum of Natural History in New York. My interest in biology, genetics, and evolution is paramount in my intellectual life right now, and has been for a while. I was hoping that the book would give me new information and inspire my thinking on the subject. I wasn’t disappointed.

The book is a compilation of articles from Scientific American magazine related to evolution. It starts with a section on the evolution of the universe, continues with cellular evolution, dinosaurs and pre-hominid life, and then finishes with human evolution. Each section contains several articles worth reading, with the standouts being:

  • The entire section on the evolution of the universe.
  • The articles about primitive cellular evolution and immunology (this is a fascinating subject).
  • Stephen Jay Gould on Punctuated Equilibrium.
  • The articles about early hominid evolution and population dispersal.
  • There are a few misses in there as well, but because the book is loosely organized by discrete topics, without much continuity between them, you can simply skip the articles that don’t interest you. For a primer on evolution, and in particular to learn about the evolution of the universe, the formation of stars, and utterly amazing biology of cells, Evolution: A Scientific American Reader is a great book. I recommend it.

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