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Are we alone in the universe, or are there other life forms 'out there'? This is one of the most scientifically and philosophically important questions that humanity can ask. Now, in the early 2020s, we are tantalizingly close to an answer. As this book shows, the answer will almost certainly be that life forms are to be found across the Milky Way and beyond. They will be thinly spread, to be sure. Yet the number of inhabited planets probably runs into the trillions. Some are close enough for us to detect evidence of life by analysing their atmospheres. This evidence may be found within a couple of decades. Its arrival will be momentous. But even before it arrives we can anticipate what life elsewhere will be like by examining the ecology and evolution of life on Earth. This book considers the current state of play in relation to these titanic issues.
Understanding plant anatomy is not only fundamental to the study of plant systematics and palaeobotany, but is also an essential part of evolutionary biology, physiology, ecology and the rapidly expanding science of developmental genetics. This modernised new edition covers all aspects of comparative plant structure and development, arranged in a series of chapters on the stem, root, leaf, flower, pollen, seed and fruit. Internal structures are described using magnification aids from the simple hand-lens to the electron microscope. Numerous references to recent topical literature are included, and new illustrations reflect a wide range of flowering plant species. The phylogenetic context of plant names has been updated as a result of improved understanding of the relationships among flowering plants. This clearly written text is ideal for students studying a wide range of courses in botany and plant science, and is also an excellent resource for professional and amateur horticulturists.
Why do the debates about evolution persist, despite the plentiful evidence for it? Breaking down the notion that public resistance to evolution is strictly due to its perceived conflict with religion, this concise book shows that evolution is in fact a counterintuitive idea that is difficult to understand. Kostas Kampourakis, an experienced science educator, takes an insightful, interdisciplinary approach, providing an introduction to evolutionary theory written with clarity and thoughtful reasoning. Topics discussed include evolution in the public sphere, evolution and religion, the conceptual obstacles to understanding evolution, the development of Darwin's theory, the most important evolutionary concepts, as well as evolution and the nature of science. Understanding Evolution presents evolutionary theory with a lucidity and vision that readers will quickly appreciate, and is intended for anyone wanting an accessible and concise guide to evolution.
This new edition of a foundational text presents a contemporary review of cladistics, as applied to biological classification. It provides a comprehensive account of the past fifty years of discussion on the relationship between classification, phylogeny and evolution. It covers cladistics in the era of molecular data, detailing new advances and ideas that have emerged over the last twenty-five years. Written in an accessible style by internationally renowned authors in the field, readers are straightforwardly guided through fundamental principles and terminology. Simple worked examples and easy-to-understand diagrams also help readers navigate complex problems that have perplexed scientists for centuries. This practical guide is an essential addition for advanced undergraduates, postgraduates and researchers in taxonomy, systematics, comparative biology, evolutionary biology and molecular biology.
Since the identification of the first cases of the coronavirus in December 2019 in Wuhan, China, there has been a significant amount of confusion regarding the origin and spread of the so-called 'coronavirus', officially named SARS-CoV-2, and the cause of the disease COVID-19. Conflicting messages from the media and officials across different countries and organizations, the abundance of disparate sources of information, unfounded conspiracy theories on the origins of the newly emerging virus and the inconsistent public health measures across different countries, have all served to increase the level of anxiety in the population. Where did the virus come from? How is it transmitted? How does it cause disease? Is it like flu? What is a pandemic? What can we do to stop its spread? Written by a leading expert, this concise and accessible introduction provides answers to the most common questions surrounding coronavirus for a general audience.
Although much is known about the anatomy of adult primates, particularly chimpanzees, the same cannot be said for the anatomy of young primates, especially non-hominoid primates such as lemurs and marmosets. This is the first book dedicated to newborn skeletal and dental anatomy and how it varies across primate species, which is important for interpreting adult primate skeletal form, as well as for comprehending primate and human evolution. Structured according to anatomical regions, the book includes hundreds of detailed anatomical illustrations, a color atlas illustrating entire skeletons in representative taxa, and boxes at the end of each chapter providing further detail on key aspects covered in the main text. Whilst the book is primarily a guide to comparative anatomy, it also highlights the links between development and behavior. An indispensable resource for students and researchers in the fields of biological anthropology, anatomy, primatology, growth and development, dental biology, and veterinary medicine.
Working with human remains raises a whole host of ethical issues, from how the remains are used to how and where they are stored. Over recent years, attitudes towards repatriation and reburial have changed considerably and there are now laws in many countries to facilitate or compel the return of remains to claimant communities. Such changes have also brought about new ways of working with and caring for human remains, while enabling their ongoing use in research projects. This has often meant a reevaluation of working practices for both the curation of remains and in providing access to them. This volume will look at the issues and difficulties inherent in holding human remains with global origins, and how diverse institutions and countries have tackled these issues. Essential reading for advanced students in biological anthropology, museum studies, archaeology and anthropology, as well as museum curators, researchers and other professionals.
The Taï Chimpanzee Project (Taï National Park, Cote D'Ivoire) has yielded unprecedented insights into the nature of cooperation, cognition, and culture in our closest living relatives. Founded in 1979 by Christophe and Hedwige Boesch, the project has entered its 40th year of continuous research. Alongside other famous long-term chimpanzee study sites at Gombe and Mahale in East Africa, the tireless work of the team at Taï has contributed to the fields of behavioural ecology and anthropology, as well as improving public awareness of the urgent need to protect this already endangered species. Encompassing important research topics including chimpanzee ecology, reproductive behaviour, tool use, culture, communication, cognition and conservation, this book provides an engaging account of how Taï chimpanzees are adapted to African jungle life and how they have developed unique forms of cooperation with less violence, regular adoptions and complex cultural differences between groups.
The Ape that Understood the Universe is the story of the strangest animal in the world: the human animal. It opens with a question: How would an alien scientist view our species? What would it make of our sex differences, our sexual behavior, our altruistic tendencies, and our culture? The book tackles these issues by drawing on two major schools of thought: evolutionary psychology and cultural evolutionary theory. The guiding assumption is that humans are animals, and that like all animals, we evolved to pass on our genes. At some point, however, we also evolved the capacity for culture - and from that moment, culture began evolving in its own right. This transformed us from a mere ape into an ape capable of reshaping the planet, travelling to other worlds, and understanding the vast universe of which we're but a tiny, fleeting fragment. Featuring a new foreword by Michael Shermer.
Integrating both scientific and philosophical perspectives, this book provides an informed analysis of the challenges of formulating a universal theory of life. Among the issues discussed are crucial differences between definitions and scientific theories and, in the context of examples from the history of science, how successful general theories develop. The central problem discussed is two-fold: first, our understanding of life is still tacitly wedded to an antiquated Aristotelian framework for biology; and second, there are compelling reasons for considering that familiar Earth life, which descends from a last universal common ancestor, is unrepresentative. What is needed are examples of life as we don't know it. Potential sources are evaluated, including artificial life, extraterrestrial life, and a shadow biosphere right here on Earth, and a novel strategy for searching for unfamiliar life in the absence of a definition or general theory is developed. The book is a valuable resource for graduate students and researchers studying the nature, origins, and extent of life in the universe.
The synthesis of the Aquatic Biodiversity and Ecosystems Conference (ABEC) 2015, which was held to assess scientific progress over the past twnety-five years, this book provides a comprehensive and global review of work since the 1992 publication of Plant-Animal Interactions in the Marine Benthos. Taking a regional and, where appropriate, habitat perspective, it considers sites of coastal biodiversity from around the world to incorporate a global approach. The volume analyses abiotic and biotic interactions, and the factors determining distribution patterns, community structure and ecosystem functioning of coastal systems. It explores themes of how phylogeography and biogeographic process influence assemblage composition, and hence drive community structure and the respective roles of environmental factors and biological interactions, with the overall goal to establish how general are the processes in different regions and habitats. For researchers, graduate students and academics studying coastal ecosystems, with interest for conservation practitioners managing areas of high biodiversity.
Oceanic islands are storehouses for unique creatures. Zoologists have long been fascinated by island animals because they break all the rules. Speedy, nervous, little birds repeatedly evolve to become plump, tame and flightless on islands. Equally strange and wonderful plants have evolved on islands. However, plants are very poorly understood relative to animals. Do plants repeatedly evolve similar patterns in dispersal ability, size and defence on islands? This volume answers this question for the first time using a modern quantitative approach. It not only reviews the literature on differences in defence, loss of dispersal, changes in size, alterations to breeding systems and the loss of fire adaptations, but also brings new data into focus to fill gaps in current understanding. By firmly establishing what is currently known about repeated patterns in the evolution of island plants, this book provides a roadmap for future research.
How fast is evolution, and why does it matter? The rate of evolution, and whether it is gradual or punctuated, is a hotly debated topic among biologists and paleontologists. This book compiles and compares examples of evolution from laboratory, field, and fossil record studies, analyzing them to extract their underlying rates. It concludes that while change is slow when averaged over many generations, on a generation-to-generation time scale, evolution is rapid. Chapters cover the history of evolutionary studies, from Lamarck and Darwin in the nineteenth century to the present day. An overview of the statistics of variation, dynamics of random walks, processes of natural selection and random drift, and effects of scale and time averaging are also provided, along with methods for the analysis of evolutionary time series. Containing case studies and worked examples, this book is ideal for advanced students and researchers in paleontology, biology, and anthropology.
This reference provides comprehensive information on the taxonomy and distribution in time and space of all currently recognized southern African fossil mammals. After an introductory background chapter on southern Africa, mammals, sites and dating, the following chapters are presented by epoch, covering the Eocene, Miocene, Pliocene, Pleistocene and Holocene. Individual maps provide information on where in the landscape specific taxa have been found, and a comprehensive index lists all the fauna and site locations. The book ends with a chapter on how the book can be used, and lines of future research. Collecting a vast amount of information together in an accessible format, this is an essential reference for non-specialist taxonomists and palaeontologists, as well as for those using fossil data for other applications, such as archaeology, neontology and nature conservation. This title is also available as Open Access on Cambridge Core.
The chromosome complement (karyotype) often differs between related mammalian species (including humans vs chimpanzees), such that evolutionary biologists muse whether chromosomal difference is a cause or a consequence of speciation. The common shrew is an excellent model to investigate this problem because of its many geographical races (potential species) differing chromosomally, and its several sibling species (recently speciated forms) that are also chromosomally different. This system is an exceptional opportunity to investigate the role of chromosomes in speciation and this volume reflects detailed research following these approaches. Highlights include the demonstration that chromosomal re-arrangements can be associated with complete loss of gene flow and thus speciation and that selection within species hybrid zones may lead to de-speciation rather than speciation. This book represents an extraordinarily detailed consideration of the role of chromosomes in speciation in one astonishing species, providing insights to those interested in mammalian diversity, chromosomal evolution and speciation.
This volume sits at the cross-roads of a number of areas of scientific interest that, in the past, have largely kept themselves separate - agriculture, forestry, population genetics, ecology, conservation biology, genomics and the protection of plant genetic resources. Yet these areas also have a lot of common interests and increasingly these independent lines of inquiry are tending to coalesce into a more comprehensive view of the complexity of plant-pathogen associations and their ecological and evolutionary dynamics. This interdisciplinary source provides a comprehensive overview of this changing situation by identifying the role of pathogens in shaping plant populations, species and communities, tackling the issue of the increasing importance of invasive and newly emerging diseases and giving broader recognition to the fundamental importance of the influence of space and time (as manifest in the metapopulation concept) in driving epidemiological and co-evolutionary trajectories.
The biological functions debate is a perennial topic in the philosophy of science. In the first full-length account of the nature and importance of biological functions for many years, Justin Garson presents an innovative new theory, the 'generalized selected effects theory of function', which seamlessly integrates evolutionary and developmental perspectives on biological functions. He develops the implications of the theory for contemporary debates in the philosophy of mind, the philosophy of medicine and psychiatry, the philosophy of biology, and biology itself, addressing issues ranging from the nature of mental representation to our understanding of the function of the human genome. Clear, jargon-free, and engagingly written, with accessible examples and explanatory diagrams to illustrate the discussion, his book will be highly valuable for readers across philosophical and scientific disciplines.
Fish, or lower vertebrates, occupy the basal nodes of the vertebrate phylogeny, and are therefore crucial in interpreting almost every feature of more advanced vertebrates, including amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals. Recent research focuses on combining evolutionary observations - primarily from the fish fossil record - with developmental data from living fishes, in order to better interpret evolutionary history and vertebrate phylogeny. This book highlights the importance of this research in the interpretation of vertebrate evolution, bringing together world-class palaeontologists and biologists to summarise the most interesting, current and cutting-edge topics in fish evolution and development. It will be an invaluable tool for researchers in early vertebrate palaeontology and evolution, and those particularly interested in the interface between evolution and development.
How do plant and animal populations change genetically to evolve and adapt to their local environments? How do populations grow and interact with one another through competition and predation? How does behaviour influence ecology and evolution? This second edition of Dick Neal's unique textbook on population biology addresses these questions and offers a comprehensive analysis of evolutionary theory in the areas of ecology, population genetics, and behaviour. Taking a quantitative and Darwinian perspective, Neal uses mathematical models to develop the basic theory of population processes. Key features in this edition include new chapters on inbreeding and species interactions and community structure, a modified structure in Part II, more recent empirical examples to illustrate the application of theoretical models to the world around us, and end-of-chapter problems to help students with self-assessment. A series of spreadsheet simulations have also been conveniently located online, for students to further improve their understanding of such models.