Free ePUB Evolution: What the Fossils Say and Why It MattersAuthor Donald R. Prothero –

Over The Past Twenty Years, Paleontologists Have Made Tremendous Fossil Discoveries, Including Fossils That Mark The Growth Of Whales, Manatees, And Seals From Land Mammals And The Origins Of Elephants, Horses, And Rhinos Today There Exists An Amazing Diversity Of Fossil Humans, Suggesting We Walked Upright Long Before We Acquired Large Brains, And New Evidence From Molecules That Enable Scientists To Decipher The Tree Of Life As Never BeforeThe Fossil Record Is Now One Of The Strongest Lines Of Evidence For Evolution In This Engaging And Richly Illustrated Book, Donald R Prothero Weaves An Entertaining Though Intellectually Rigorous History Out Of The Transitional Forms And Series That Dot The Fossil Record Beginning With A Brief Discussion Of The Nature Of Science And The Monkey Business Of Creationism, Prothero Tackles Subjects Ranging From Flood Geology And Rock Dating To Neo Darwinism And Macroevolution He Covers The Ingredients Of The Primordial Soup, The Effects Of Communal Living, Invertebrate Transitions, The Development Of The Backbone, The Reign Of The Dinosaurs, The Mammalian Explosion, And The Leap From Chimpanzee To Human Prothero Pays Particular Attention To The Recent Discovery Of Missing Links That Complete The Fossil Timeline And Details The Debate Between Biologists Over The Mechanisms Driving The Evolutionary Process Evolution Is An Absorbing Combination Of Firsthand Observation, Scientific Discovery, And Trenchant Analysis With The Teaching Of Evolution Still An Issue, There Couldn T Be A Better Moment For A Book Clarifying The Nature And Value Of Fossil Evidence Widely Recognized As A Leading Expert In His Field, Prothero Demonstrates That The Transformation Of Life On This Planet Is Far Awe Inspiring Than The Narrow View Of Extremists

10 thoughts on “Evolution: What the Fossils Say and Why It Matters

  1. says:

    Evolution is happening all around us It happens every time a new germ invades your body, a new pest or weed destroys our crops, or a new insecticide resistant fly or mosquito bites you Creationists may get some personal comfort from their beliefs, but they cannot change the fact that life is evolving all around us and threatens our survival if we don t come to terms with that evolution p 118 If the most profound truths are destined for the most polarizing receptions, then Darwin s ideas surely clinch the heavyweight title From an empirical vantage point, the passage of time has been exceptionally kind to the iconic naturalist, even if scrupulously supported science is a poor solvent for cemented dogma In some parts of the world, the mere mention of evolution can still elicit a range of reactions, from deep seated animosity to a spluttering defiance waged from behind the ramparts of a keyboard And yet for others it is an embodiment of the heightened grandeur science can evoke.One might think something so well established would not so thoroughly dichotomize public attitude, but this mystery is clarified by unboxing the countermovement s religious underpinning Evolution s conflict with a literal exegesis of Genesis is not an insignificant problem for fundamentalists, who feel roused to stamp out this object of dissonance at every turn In what has become de rigeur for many of these blocs, scientific perspectives are measured against the canons of church teaching rather than the other way around Adaptation is selected by committee, not by nature Combine this with man s long harbored fancies about our place in the cosmos and you have an idea ripe for naysaying.Charles Darwin himself might have identified with such sentiments early in his career Like many of his contemporaries, he found little reason to doubt the literal truth of the Bible, having been raised in an Anglican family under the Church of England, the state established Christian institution in Britain By all tradition and probability, Darwin seemed destined to pursue a life of piety and vicarage But his gaze was set on loftier pursuits At the hale and nimble age of twenty two, Darwin accepted consignment to the HMS Beagle and embarked on the famed Pacific voyage that would forever imprint his thinking and shift his worldview.His observations during this expedition were difficult to stomach initially He noticed that animals on outlying oceanic islands like the Gal pagos were nothing like those on the nearest mainland, and that the fossils left behind by extinct species shared a stronger resemblance to the local fauna than they did to continental fauna From these initial whispers was spun a thesis for the ages life on earth had adapted to the environment in which it found itself, with Nature the arbiter So conscious was Darwin of the weighty implications of his newfound understanding that he sat on the concept of natural selection or descent with modification, as he preferred to call it for than twenty years before taking it public Even absent the evidence that would best support his theory the fossil record, still sparse at the time and the field that would tie it all together genetics Darwin s observations and insight were groundbreaking More than one hundred and fifty years later, his landmark ideas tend to provoke the same animus as in the 1860s No amount of corroboration seems sufficient to dissipate its detractors evolutionary science is still disputed and rejected by the bulk of religious America, and by the global majority based on recent indicators This is unfortunate, not just because it signals anti intellectualism, but because biological evolution our evolution ranks among the most important discoveries in all of science Its advent ushered in a far intricate and, indeed, far less anthropocentric understanding of life over against the unquestioned orthodoxy of distinctly created kinds While there may always be holdouts who drum up controversy in a bid to undermine the science, there is no such controversy within the scientific community Evolution What the Fossils Say and Why It Matters, from reputable paleontologist of 30 years, Donald Prothero, illuminates both sides of this longstanding narrative With his expertise in fossils and other inter applicable disciplines, Prothero enlightens his readers on why the occurrence of evolution is part of the furniture of reality and shoots down the biblically motivated dismissals of creationists who deny this reality.First Things FirstBefore establishing the positive case for common descent, Prothero first targets the religious engines which fuel its nonacceptance, allocating considerable space to biblical origins and context I cannot commend this approach enough All of the evidence in the world is not enough to sway fortified religious mindsets The ballast of fundamentalism must first be kicked aside.The forays into biblical interpretation are admirable and strike at the heart of creationism Entire sections are devoted to precursory creation myths, such as those of the Sumerians and Babylonians, the Documentary Hypothesis, and debunking flood geology As Prothero tells us, The Bible is a composite of multiple sources that did not always agree with each other p 30 It is truly refreshing to see a scientist as capable of dissecting the often thorny issues of religion as of science, even though his treatment here is unlikely to break new ground for those well versed in biblical studies.All roads lead back to America as the birthplace of modern creationism from its evangelical roots in the late 19th century and the many spouts of obstructionist fervor in the courtroom to the appearance of its recent cognate, intelligent design ID While most of these efforts to gain academic traction have collapsed in failure, there is a rich history to be told here of the rhapsodic and fitful yet ongoing quarrel over the legality of teaching creationist perspectives in public school systems around the country.Prothero recounts in places his own debates with creationists and the predictable tactics they employ to evade the portfolio of evidence unearthed by the scientific community With devastating effectiveness, Prothero yanks the rug out from creationist and ID peddlers and pinpoints the errors in their tattered objections.Fossils Tell the StoryIn reconstructing the evolutionary history of life, scientists look to the strongest clues available those written in the earth itself As one of the most accomplished paleontologists of his generation, Prothero is in rare form with his dizzying knowledge of the fossil record Unfortunately for scientists like Prothero, the discovery of a fossil is actually an overwhelmingly improbable event due to the unforgiving processes of fossilization and deposition, combined with the fact that few scientists are out there hunting for them Indeed, a fossil record as robust as what we have today is a story in and of itself He walks us through example after example of evolutionary sequences, highlighting transitional forms along the way as well as each taxon s overall place in the topiary of life.Our guided tour commences with the smallest of life on earth, the microbial forms of bacteria and protists whose relatively rapid evolution makes for an impressive array of microfossils We next work our way up to invertebrates, and onto fish, and then proceed to the nonamniote tetrapods what the rest of us might call amphibians Next Prothero discusses the selection pressures giving rise to land based animals return to the sea and the reptilian s branching evolutionary tree leading to the dinosaurs and, later, birds Priority then shifts to the mammals Horse, rhino, pinniped seals, sea lions and walruses and whale evolution are among the most remarkable examples in science of later observation confirming prediction.The book concludes with a recap of our own origins Some 6,000 hominid fossils have been located to date, and biologists have made significant progress in piecing together the complete canvas of human evolution The various collections preserved by museums around the world document our ancestry in near cinematic form Upon Prothero s first visit to the natural history museum in Kenya, he reminisces A tour through the bomb proof hominid vault in the Kenya National Museum in Nairobi is a revelation a whole room full of fossils that document our evolution, and whose existence the creationists must deny p 336 Of all the threads of evidence buttressing Darwin s original insight, the fossil record qualifies as perhaps the most irrefutable testament to the temporal progression from simpler organisms to complex organisms The variety presented here reaches a scale and lucidity few other works can match While Prothero marshals independent corroboration from other disciplines, including embryology, vestigiality, comparative genomics and biogeography, the punch line of the book is the none too shabby fossil record, which only grows exhaustive with each passing year.On a somewhat picky note, I do wish Prothero had mentioned one of the primary objections to fossil science the reconstruction of a full specimen from a small number of bones As paleontologists will emphasize, you do not need a complete set of bones to extrapolate with accuracy a full skeleton For example, the human body is comprised of 206 bones, but many of those are redundant If the left tibia bone is intact, the right tibia is unnecessary Once you account for all the duplicate bones, you re left with around 120 unique fragments Moreover, certain bones constitute defining features for certain genera, relegating others to a lower priority This is important because rarely is a full set found in the wild.Slaying the SlainIf a knock can be made against the book, it is Prothero s relentless captivation with creationists, especially Duane Gish, whom Prothero has debated multiple times in public In fact certain portions of the book seem almost entirely addressed to a creationist a boxing match that never seems to let up At some point it began to feel a bit repetitive, and could potentially turn off the very readers he s trying to reach I get it, though he s spent much of his life wrangling with creationists it s only inevitable this would manifest on the page.Closing ThoughtsAfter the last page had been turned, I couldn t help but feel once a sense of awe at the diversity of life that has roamed this planet and the time tested principles that account for it I find endlessly perplexing the fundamentalist s continued preoccupation with ancient creation stories when life s evolutionary past is ever breathtaking, nuanced and surreal juxtaposed with the prosaic passages introducing the biblical texts Prothero lays down an airtight case, premised on a voluminous amount of empirical evidence, for the truth of the former and against the fallaciousness of the latter Part textbook, part creationist s worst nightmare, Evolution What the Fossils Say and Why It Matters is one of the most accessible resources on the topic I ve had the pleasure of reading It answered the most questions, and may well be the go to reference for debunking pestersome creationists Highly recommended.Note This review is republished from my official website Click through for additional footnotes and imagery.

  2. says:

    It s my own fault that I did not read the book description or the other reviews here closer I didn t get the impression from the book description that so much of it would be devoted to countering the fallacious arguments of the creationist ID crowd Not expecting that, and not one needing to be convinced, I was a little annoyed at all the time and ink spent describing and shooting down the creationist positions For those who need a little convincing, or who regularly debate creationists, those parts of the book would be quite valuable It is for these reasons that I gave the book four rather than five stars.Nevertheless, it does a good job of describing most of the evolutionary pathways from simple bacteria to various megafauna including dinosaurs, birds, whales, and humans My only other regret that once he takes the reader on to land with the amphibians, that he forgets plants and insects, but I understand that author s have to make choices because of marketing constraints His frequent references to systematics and cladistics made me want to read a book specifically on that topic.So, again, if you are looking for a book on evolution that specifically takes on the creationist and Intelligent Design community, you could do no better than to start here.NOTE TO KINDLE READERS GoodReads does not at the time of this writing show the availability of the Kindle edition, which is what I read If I had to do it again I would buy the hardback There are many cladograms and other illustrations, including color plates Some these zoomed well enough to appreciate while others did not and required the use of a magnifying glass Also, the Kindle version was expensive, close to 15.

  3. says:

    This is a very scholarly book, equivalent to a university level text covering an overview of the origin of life on Earth It has been written as a definitive rebuttal to the assertions of creationists who believe that the bible book of Genesis is literally true The author has debated Creationists over many decades and this work is also an autobiographical account of his absolute frustration that his opponents simply won t accept facts The book would serve as a wonderful text book for an Evangelical college on the subject of evolution Of course, it will never be put to such a use.For the general reader who is interested in Darwin s dangerous idea on the origin of species and the history of life on Earth, this work is a very good source I should again emphasize that this means really, really interested as to the point because of the detailed presentation of this book.Out of curiosity I just checked the Gallup poll and found that the belief of Americans in Young Earth Creationism has now fallen to about 15 percent Darwin is finally winning.Read again in 2018 For prospective readers I give this book 4 stars for it s excellent overview of the history of life and 2 stars for the time wasted on fighting creationists, resulting in the average of 3 stars for the overall rating.

  4. says:

    I sincerely hope that I never again read or hear an argument against the truth of evolution based on the lack of transitional fossils or so called missing links from anyone who hasn t read this book Prothero describes dozens of transitional fossils here and to be extremely generous in giving creationists the benefit of the doubt, many of these have been discovered and or documented in the past 20 to 30 years, so anyone who relies on data older than that will find some gaps But that is emphatically no longer the case the entire history of life is covered here, and among the fossils described are those that show transitions between worm like invertebrates and fish like vertebrates fish and tetrapods amphibians and amniotes dinosaurs and birds reptilian synapsids and mammals terrestrial mammals and marine mammals such as seals, sea lions and walruses proto ungulates and horses, artiodactyls, and whales elephant like tethytheres and sirenians primates and australopithecines and eventually humansSo this book is certainly worth reading just for chapters 7 through 15, where these transitional forms are covered in depth.Prothero also spends a lot of time attacking creationists for their dishonesty when it comes to matters of science, which is certainly a valid and worthy endeavor, but this makes for some tedious reading, especially if you re already familiar with the arguments on both sides or if you re a creationist.Given this agenda, the author has also included plenty of other material that s a bit peripheral to the central subject of fossils, including the nature of science compared to creationism and intelligent design, a debunking of the absurd concept of flood geology and a discussion of mechanisms other than natural selection that also contribute to evolution The categorization of species is covered in the subjects of systematics and cladistics, and there is a chapter regarding theories on the origin of life.It would be fantastic if readers who ve been taught creationism and are curious about evolution would read this book, but if this is their initial exposure to the subject, I would guess it s unlikely they ll make it through So, as a brief introduction to evolution and natural selection, I highly recommend River Out of Eden A Darwinian View of Life by Richard Dawkins For a concise presentation of the evidence for evolution, I recommend Jerry A Coyne s Why Evolution Is True And for those who are looking for the exhaustive history of life on earth, it s covered here in a rather textbook like way for a engagingly written account I would suggest Dawkins The Ancestor s Tale A Pilgrimage to the Dawn of Evolution.

  5. says:

    Evolution What the Fossils Say and Why It Matters is the best book I have ever read emphasizing the importance of the fossil record as the indisputable facts of biological evolution, documenting the history of life on Planet Earth Its publication is long overdue, and yet, remains quite timely, when major publishers like Simon and Schuster have mistakenly published sterling examples of mendacious intellectual pornography like Michael Behe s The Edge of Evolution Indeed, Prothero s book ought to be viewed as the one that demolishes forever, Behe s inane assertion that the fossil record is irrelevant, claiming that the truth will be found only at the molecular level More than anything else, that terse comment from Behe merely demonstrates his profound ignorance and understanding of the fossil record Incidentally, Prothero refers to Behe as an Intelligent Design creationist It also demonstrates the absurdity of creationist claims from the likes of Behe s Discovery Institute colleagues Paul Nelson, Jonathan Wells, and Geoffrey Simmons, among others, that the fossil record does not have transitional forms Indeed, as Prothero clearly shows his readers again and again, the history of life on our planet is replete with transitional forms documenting the evolutionary transitions from fish to tetrapods, from terrestrial carnivorous dinosaurs to flying birds, from primitive ungulate mammals to whales, and from apes to mankind He also stresses the relevance of the fossil record to other aspects of evolutionary biology, noting its relevance with respect to molecular as well as comparative anatomical data All of this is told in clear, concise, and persuasive, prose that often reaches the same literary heights attained by Prothero s mentor and friend, the late Stephen Jay Gould without question this splendid book ought to be regarded as among the finest published last year Prothero s book is also a superb guide to the history and regrettably ever present danger posed by Intelligent Design advocates and other creationists The first three chapters emphasize the profound intellectual differences between valid mainstream science like contemporary evolutionary biology and pseudoscientific religious nonsense like scientific creationism in all of its flavors, especially Intelligent Design Prothero offers a detailed look at the scientific method in the very first chapter, comparing and contrasting it with creationism He also provides a superb introductory guide too to the writing of the Judeo Christian Old Testament The second chapter is an in depth exploration of creationism, tracing its roots in early 20th Century American Fundamentalist Protestant Christianity, and, of course, describing the emergence of Intelligent Design and its zealous promotion by the Discovery Institute, the Seattle, Washington based conservative think tank However, much to my amazement, he does not emphasize sufficiently, the important work done by philosopher of science Barbara Forrest and biologist Paul Gross in their book Creationism s Trojan Horse The Wedge of Intelligent Design in exposing the Discovery Institute s crypto Fascist agenda for a future United States Yet, to his credit, he does acknowledge that agenda by referring to its infamous Wedge Document while noting the Discovery Institute s deceitful promotion of Intelligent Design at the expense of valid mainstream science like contemporary evolutionary biology Finally, in Chapter Three, Prothero exposes both the intellectual inanity of Flood Geology and the popular creationist pastime of quote mining the latter, a practice that s still popular with Discovery Institute Senior Fellows Michael Behe, William Dembski and Jonathan Wells The next two chapters comprise an excellent introduction to the history and science of evolutionary biology and the theory and practice of cladistic systematics In Chapter Four, Prothero discusses the history of evolutionary biology, tracing its intellectual roots from the ancient Greeks to Lamarck, Darwin, and those biologists who became the architects of the Modern Synthesis Theory of Evolution also known as the so called Neo Darwinian Synthesis , since it merged population genetics with paleontology, biogeography, ecology and systematics He also discusses some of the current controversies in contemporary evolutionary biology, beginning with evolutionary developmentaly biology, better known as Evo Devo , and, ending, of course, with punctuated equilibrium, noting how often it has been twisted and bent out of shape by creationists of all stripes, who have excelled only in quote mining from the published scientific and popular publications written by Stephen Jay Gould and Niles Eldredge the two American invertebrate paleobiologists responsible for punk eke In Chapter Five, Prothero offers an especially lucid account of the theory and history of cladistic systematics, emphasizing its importance as a tool for studying both Earth s current biodiversity and its history of life In Part II Evolution The Fossils Say YES , Prothero gives us a whirlwind tour of the history of life on Planet Earth, emphasizing major episodes in the history of life on Planet Earth, beginning with the origin of life, and culminating with the emergence of mankind In Chapter Six, Prothero offers clear, persuasive evidence for the relative ease in creating life from inert organic compounds, brushing aside creationist arguments to the contrary He debunks the outdated notion of a Cambrian Explosion which remains popular with creationists, including Intelligent Design advocates in Chapter 7, observing that the fossil record points to instead, a Cambrian Slow Fuse , involving the gradual diversification of hard part skeletonized fauna over the span of eighty million years, from the Late Precambrian through early Ordovician He discusses the emergence of tetrapods from limbless fish in Chapter 10, the rise of early amniotes which includes the reptiles, birds and mammals in Chapter 11, and the evolution of flight in avian dinosaurs in Chapter 12, demonstrating the existence of countless transitional forms Further chapters are devoted to the origin of whales Chapter 14 and humans Chapter 15 , and thus, offer a terse, but still thorough, glimpse, at the history of life on this planet Prothero s coverage is so superb, that I am surprised by his all too brief references to mass extinctions, especially when their very existence ought to raise ample questions about an Intelligent Designer and his ability to design life that is extinction resistant In the final chapter of his book Chapter 16 , Prothero makes a truly compelling argument explaining why creationism is a clear and present danger, not only to American education, but indeed, the very survival of the United States too He quotes from an extended excerpt from the Los Angeles Times, describing creationist Ken Ham s indoctrination of young school children against evolution, conjuring up at least for me an image of Adolf Hitler s infamous Nuremberg Nazi Party rallies He blames the advent of creationism since the late 1950s for fostering scientific illiteracy among Americans, and noting that this threatens our future economic success as we compete with other, better educated, countries like those in Europe and East Asia in a global economy increasingly dominated by science and technology He also argues persuasively that denial of evolution is harmful to our health and well being, graphically illustrating this point by reminding us of the unsuccessful 1984 baboon to human heart transplant by a creationist Loma Linda University surgeon Prothero s dire warning is a message I have read before, especially from Niles Eldredge, but here, Prothero s remarks are most compelling, and ones that ought to be heeded by all Not surprisingly, Prothero compares and contrasts current denial of evolution with that of global warming, and finds obvious parallels with both Reposted from my review

  6. says:

    My second book on evolution the first was Dawkins The Greatest Show on Earth This one is probably a bit palatable to those with a creationist background, since Prothero is at least a theistic evolutionist He mentions in the acknowledgement section I am grateful to my brilliant pastor, the late Rev Dr Bruce Thielmann, who showed me that you could be religious and intellectual at the same time Anyway, there is a wealth of info on fossils for all the major branches of the tree of life Actually, I was a bit overwhelmed by the sheer number of transitional fossils presented, especially with all of the names in Latin So, after reading this book I don t think I could believe a statement such as There are no transitional fossils However, fossils are only brought into focus in the second half of the book The first half gives a very good overview of philosophy of science, the history of evolution, the history of creationism and flood geology, the history of the conflict of the two, and some comparative mythology thrown in just for good measure All of these topics are highly relevant to the controversy, in addition to the fossil evidence.After reading this book, I did some Googling about Enuma Elish , and found the writings of another theistic evolutionist, a minister, that explained Genesis from a totally different perspective than I was raised with, and that was one influence that led me to leave Biblical literalism in the dust The other was Misquoting Jesus The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why I also found out that a coworker of mine had grown up the daughter of a minister, and he had even taught a class on this very topic Certainly not the sort of churches I grew up attending. reminds me of something Dan Barker said about there not being just one Christianity, but a spectrum.

  7. says:

    Fascinating read Very enlightening on the subject I mainly bought this book because I thought it would cover some of the unique factors and discoveries within evolutional history While it does contain some interesting facts about evolution like how whales and snakes still have hips , an portion of the book is spent discussing the ignorance and deceitful tactics of fanatical creationists which is understandable given the fact that prothero has dedicated his life to the subject and has to face a constant barrage of mindless attacks from people who refuse to do proper research It is unfortunate that a text on evolution would need to first deal with the problem of creationist thinking, but after reading about some of the things that have been done in the name of willful ignorance I can understand why the religious fanatics garner such hate and ridicule from anyone with a modicum of knowledge on the subject luckily the problem does not appear to be as bad outside the confines of the United States An excellent text covering a broad overview of the evolution of life on this planet from single cell to hominid Well worth reading for those with an interest in the subject Prothero does an excellent job explaining the scientific workings of evolution, even though some places still come across as a bit dense.

  8. says:

    Evolution What the Fossils Say and Why it Matters by Donald R Prothero Evolution What the Fossils Say and Why it Matters is an outstanding book that focuses on the fossil record as strong evidence for evolution It covers the science of evolution with great expertise and eloquence The book is basically broken out into two main parts The first part focuses on the science or progression of evolution while the second part gets into the technical and fossil case studies Dr Prothero s scientific background is unquestioned and is an accomplished science writer evidenced by the number of books and papers under his belt He tackles many fascinating topics of evolution with proficiency and annihilates the so called evolution creationism controversy This is a reference quality book on evolution and is a significant scientific contribution This 408 page book is broken out into two main parts Part I Evolution and the Fossil Record, and Part II Evolution The Fossils Say YES.Positives 1 Reference quality book.2 Extensively researched by an expert in the field.3 Great accessible science writing.4 The always fascinating topic of evolution.5 Great use of converging sciences to solidify points.6 Excellent use of charts and diagrams 7 Great defense of science Explains what science is all about.8 Evolution is a scientific fact But even if Darwin s mechanism, the theory of natural selection, were to be rejected by scientists, it would not change the fact that life has evolved.9 One of the main goals of this book is to debunk creationism and it succeeds by providing overwhelming evidence One of the great strengths of this book Bravo 10 A who s who of creationists and their weak positions exposed.11 Creation myth debunked 12 A historical look at creationism and evolution Great stuff.13 The author does a wonderful job of explaining what the threats to science are.14 A fascinating look at geology, The geologists who first discovered the fact that fossils change through time, or faunal succession, were actually devoutly religious men who were not trying to prove evolution an idea that would not be published for 50 or 70 years after they discovered faunal succession.15 A close examination of the great flood Interesting.16 Understanding punctuated equilibrium, mosaic evolution 17 The genius of Charles Darwin and his legacy.18 Some fascinating and eye opening facts I will not spoil them for you.19 The importance of regulatory genes.20 Thought provoking quotes, Yet amidst all this turmoil no biologist has been lead to doubt the fact that evolution occurred we are debating how it happened 21 How converging science like genetics solidify evolution.22 The impact of Hox genes.23 Systematics one of the least understood by the general public Cladistics 24 Human evolution, awe inspiring The fossils, the evidence 25 Debunking the distortions of the fossil record that the creationists promote.26 Living up to the title, what the fossils say.27 Microfossils and why they are ideal for evolutionary studies.28 One of the great strengths of this marvelous book a look at a number of captivating cases of transitional forms I can t stress that enough Awesome 29 Many great evolutionary breakthroughs covered in this book With plenty of examples.30 Great fossil discoveries.31 The author does a wonderful job of helping the reader ground the timelines involved with evolution The combination of lucid narratives and illustrations is an effective teaching tool.32 What teeth tell us about our ancestors.33 How close are human and chimpanzee DNA Find out.34 The author closes out the book with a persuasive plea in defense of science 35 Links worked great 36 An extensive and I mean extensive bibliography.Negatives 1 Creationists don t need to believe evolution but if they care about their beliefs corresponding to reality must certainly learn to accept it This book will rattle dogmatic believers.2 I will disagree with the author that supernatural hypotheses cannot be tested in a scientific manner Some can be take the efficacy of prayers as an example Can prayers help amputees grow a new limb I do however, respect the author s stance.3 Science is moving at a fast pace so some new findings in particular in the genetics field has altered some things from this book For instance, there are some new findings that show that Neanderthals in fact did mate with humans The book was published in late 2007, so some minor differences are bound to happen In summary, I thoroughly enjoyed this book I ve read a number of books on evolution as my further suggestions will attest, and this book has become one of my favorites It s great science writing with conviction and passion Dr Prothero cares about the state of science and in particular the so called scientific controversy and relentlessly goes after creationists who attempt to undermine science and in particular evolution The book is thorough, comprehensive and quite enlightening It is reference quality and I really appreciate how the author lets the reader know the areas in which creationists misrepresent or flat out lie about scientific facts One of the greatest strengths of this book is the number of cases in which the author provides fossil evidence for transitional forms The author also uses converging scientific knowledge such as genetics to solidify his arguments An absolute intellectual treat Further suggestions Written in Stone by Brian Switek, Why Evolution Is True by Jerry A Coyne, Why Evolution Works and Creationism, Fails by Matt Young, The 10,000 Year Explosion by Gregory Cochran and Henry Harpending, The Red Queen by Matt Ridley, The Making of the Fittest by Sean B Carroll, The Greatest Show On Earth by Richard Dawkins, Your Inner Fish by Neil Shubin, Relics of Eden by Daniel J Fairbanks, Why Darwin Matters by Michael Shermer, Only a Theory by Kenneth R Miller, and Life Ascending The Ten Great Inventions of Evolution by Nick Lane, Evolution The Triumph of an Idea, by Carl Zimmer, Before the Dawn Recovering the Lost History of Our Ancestors by Nicholas Wade, and What Evolution Is by Ernst Mayr.

  9. says:

    An absolutely fantastic read, clear and concise and a great book for both laypersons and experts alike

  10. says:

    I think a appropriate subtitle of this book would have been Creationists Can t Be Bothered Having been one and having spent some of that time trying to sort out why everybody thought the way they did, I understand why he kept coming back to that phrase When you don t understand science and when it doesn t interest you, reading about it piecemeal on the Internet is exhausting The conclusion I came to out of that exhaustion was just to think, Gee, there s nothing one side can argue that the other side can t answer and to therefore stop thinking about it altogether If you had asked me point blank if I was a Creationist, I would have said so, but at the same time I don t think I would have denied the fact that we can see evolution happening around us and that the conclusions scientists come to do seem to lead to effective advancements toward human goals in medicine, geology, and physics.They call this cognitive dissonance and I had it in spades This book, especially the early parts that lay the foundation as to how scientists come to understand the fossils, was really speaking to my young adult self So many of the experiences he has had as an educator were the same ones I had as the person being educated I disrupted my college biology class while my high school acquaintances sank in their seats I told an adjunct professor about the second law of thermodynamics fully expecting him to be stumped and being amazed when he absolutely wasn t.What s , even though the church I grew up in didn t really harp on the subject very much, I have a very distinct memory of the very quote mining Prothero is exasperated by I work in a world class research library, you see There isn t an article you could cite in any church that I can t get And I did And it said the opposite of what the Bible School Teacher said it did.I cannot remember if I pointed this out to that teacher I have tried at least once to correct this kind of error, but I got dismissed and felt demoralized by it and may have not wanted to go through it again if it was not this time I really doubt it would have changed his mind.The whole thing makes me sad That man is still around the church, but I m not And I don t think there s anybody left with the inclination and the resources to check up on him.buuuuuuuuuuuuhMaybe I should stick to talking about the book Okay.Lots of pictures The first part is the best part, the part about fossils sort of bogs you down like the book of Numbers with its lists of incomprehensible names peppered with the occasional bizarre story reptiles, except for crocodilians, can t breathe and eat at the same time there used to be this crazy hornless rhino that was bigger than an elephant fish be walking all the time, bro He gets docked a star because his tone gets a little albeit understandably exasperated quite often Though, he does a good job making clear that he isn t against religious people in general, just creationists in specific Religion is great, in his book, so long as you keep it out of the science books.I got a lot out of it, but I think it s another book that won t be read by the people who need it most The story of my life.Thanks Donald Prothero Despite the depressed tone of this review, I really enjoyed the book Also, now I know you re not Stephen Prothero who is a different human being altogether, apparently.The end.