Life on a Young Planet: The First Three Billion Years of Evolution on Earth [EPUB]
30 December 2016, 08:02
2015 | EPUB | 4.03MB
Australopithecines, dinosaurs, trilobites--such fossils conjure up images of lost worlds filled with vanished organisms. But in the full history of life, ancient animals, even the trilobites, form only the half-billion-year tip of a nearly four-billion-year iceberg. Andrew Knoll explores the deep history of life from its origins on a young planet to the incredible Cambrian explosion, presenting a compelling new explanation for the emergence of biological novelty.
The very latest discoveries in paleontology--many of them made by the author and his students--are integrated with emerging insights from molecular biology and earth system science to forge a broad understanding of how the biological diversity that surrounds us came to be. Moving from Siberia to Namibia to the Bahamas, Knoll shows how life and environment have evolved together through Earth's history. Innovations in biology have helped shape our air and oceans, and, just as surely, environmental change has influenced the course of evolution, repeatedly closing off opportunities for some species while opening avenues for others.
Readers go into the field to confront fossils, enter the lab to discern the inner workings of cells, and alight on Mars to ask how our terrestrial experience can guide exploration for life beyond our planet. Along the way, Knoll brings us up-to-date on some of science's hottest questions, from the oldest fossils and claims of life beyond the Earth to the hypothesis of global glaciation and Knoll's own unifying concept of ''permissive ecology.''
In laying bare Earth's deepest biological roots, Life on a Young Planet helps us understand our own place in the universe--and our responsibility as stewards of a world four billion years in the making.
In a new preface, Knoll describes how the field has broadened and deepened in the decade since the book’s original publication.
Ancestors in Our Genome: The New Science of Human Evolution [EPUB]
30 December 2016, 07:43
2014 | EPUB | 5.83MB
In 2001, scientists were finally able to determine the full human genome sequence, and with the discovery began a genomic voyage back in time. Since then, we have sequenced the full genomes of a number of mankind's primate relatives at a remarkable rate. The genomes of the common chimpanzee (2005) and bonobo (2012), orangutan (2011), gorilla (2012), and macaque monkey (2007) have already been identified, and the determination of other primate genomes is well underway. Researchers are beginning to unravel our full genomic history, comparing it with closely related species to answer age-old questions about how and when we evolved. For the first time, we are finding our own ancestors in our genome and are thereby gleaning new information about our evolutionary past.
In Ancestors in Our Genome, molecular anthropologist Eugene E. Harris presents us with a complete and up-to-date account of the evolution of the human genome and our species. Written from the perspective of population genetics, and in simple terms, the book traces human origins back to their source among our earliest human ancestors, and explains many of the most intriguing questions that genome scientists are currently working to answer. For example, what does the high level of discordance among the gene trees of humans and the African great apes tell us about our respective separations from our common ancestor? Was our separation from the apes fast or slow, and when and why did it occur? Where, when, and how did our modern species evolve? How do we search across genomes to find the genomic underpinnings of our large and complex brains and language abilities? How can we find the genomic bases for life at high altitudes, for lactose tolerance, resistance to disease, and for our different skin pigmentations? How and when did we interbreed with Neandertals and the recently discovered ancient Denisovans of Asia?
Harris draws upon extensive experience researching primate evolution in order to deliver a lively and thorough history of human evolution. Ancestors in Our Genome is the most complete discussion of our current understanding of the human genome available.
Humankind: How Biology and Geography Shape Human Diversity [EPUB]
30 December 2016, 07:29
2015 | EPUB | 6.16MB
An innovative and illuminating look at how the evolution of the human species has been shaped by the world around us, from anatomy and physiology, to cultural diversity and population density.
Where did the human species originate? Why are tropical peoples much more diverse than those at polar latitudes? Why can only Japanese peoples digest seaweed? How are darker skin, sunlight, and fertility related? Did Neanderthals and Homo Sapiens ever interbreed? In Humankind, U. C. Davis professor Alexander Harcourt answers these questions and more, as he explains how the expansion of the human species around the globe and our interaction with our environment explains much about why humans differ from one region of the world to another, not only biologically, but culturally.
What effects have other species had on the distribution of humans around the world, and we, in turn, on their distribution? And how have human populations affected each other’s geography, even existence? For the first time in a single book, Alexander Harcourt brings these topics together to help us understand why we are, what we are, where we are.
It turns out that when one looks at humanity's expansion around the world, and in the biological explanations for our geographic diversity, we humans are often just another primate. Humanity's distribution around the world and the type of organism we are today has been shaped by the same biogeographical forces that shape other species.