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Recommended Reading

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  06 November 2020

Mike Cassidy
Durham University
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Biological Evolution
An Introduction
, pp. 255 - 261
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2020

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Attenborough, D. (2013) Galapagos with David Attenborough [DVD]. Sky1. (An excellent visual introduction to the Galapagos archipelago, written and directed by the acclaimed UK naturalist and presenter, David Attenborough. Set in three parts (‘Origin’, ‘Adaptation’ and ‘Evolution’), the programme explores both the evolution of the islands together with their unique plant and animal communities.)Google Scholar
Bowler, P. (2003) Evolution, the History of an Idea, 3rd ed. University of California Press, Berkeley. (A detailed survey of the history of evolutionary thought. Often used as a textbook to teach the ‘History of Science’ to university undergraduates.)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Bridson, G. (2008) The History of Natural History, 2nd ed. The Linnean Society of London, London. (An interesting and comprehensive account of the development of natural history.)Google Scholar
Darwin, C. (1845) Journal of Researches into the Natural History and Geology of the Countries Visited during the Voyage of HMS Beagle round the World, 2nd ed. [Later re-titled ‘Voyage of the Beagle’]. John Murray, London. (The best account of the Beagle voyage is still that of Charles Darwin himself. It has been reprinted many times.)Google Scholar
Grant, P. R. (1999) Ecology and Evolution of Darwin’s Finches. Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ. (Originally published in 1986, this new edition has an ‘Afterword’ bringing each chapter up to date.)Google Scholar
Parent, C. E. and Crespi, B. J. (2009) Ecological opportunity in adaptive radiation of Galápagos endemic land snails. The American Naturalist, 174(6), 898905. (A model example of ‘ecological opportunity’ leading to phenotypic divergence (adaptive radiation) in endemic land snails.)CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Ridley, M. (Ed.) (2004) Evolution, Oxford Readers, 2nd ed. Oxford University Press, Oxford. (An anthology of major scientific writing on a variety of evolutionary topics ranging from Darwin’s, 1858, unpublished works on species to Palumbi’s, 2001, description of ‘Humans as the world’s greatest evolutionary force’. Each extract comes with its own brief summary.)Google Scholar
Ruse, M. and Travis, J. (eds) (2009) Evolution: The First Four Billion Years. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA. (A series of essays written by top US and UK academics to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin. The latter half of the book (pp. 401–934) comprises a very useful ‘Alphabetical Guide’, a sort of glossary where both scientific terms and important individuals and discoveries are thoughtfully explained, each entry with its own mini-bibliography.)Google Scholar
Stott, R. (2012) Darwin’s Ghosts: In Search of the First Evolutionists. Bloomsbury, London. (Using the premise that Charles Darwin had overlooked his ‘intellectual predecessors’, Rebecca Stott looks at a range of individuals who, themselves, had planted the seeds for the development of the theory of evolution by natural selection.)Google Scholar
Sulloway, F. J. (1982) Darwin and his finches: the evolution of a legend. Journal of the History of Biology, 15, 153. (The most reliable account of Darwin, the finches and the origin of his evolutionary views.)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Weiner, J. (1994) The Beak of the Finch: A Story of Evolution in Our Time. Jonathan Cape, London. (One of the best popular books on evolution which is based on the work of the Grants.)Google Scholar
Cox, C. B and. Moore, P. D. (2000) Biogeography: An Ecological and Evolutionary Approach, 6th ed. Blackwell Science, Oxford. (A standard text on biogeography.)Google Scholar
Coyne, J. A. (2009) Why Evolution Is True. Oxford University Press, Oxford. (A very readable introduction to the evidence for evolution providing a mix of both interesting observation and plausible explanation. The book makes a compelling case for evolution and is written with scientific rigour.)Google Scholar
Dawkins, R. (2009) The Greatest Show on Earth. Bantam Press, London. (A masterly synthesis of the evidence for evolution written by a passionate evolutionist. The book has comprehensive coverage and is very well illustrated.)Google Scholar
Gallup, (2017) Evolution, creation, intelligent design. Gallup News. (accessed 29 December 2017). (An interesting look at public opinion reflecting ‘the primitive nature of the evolution debate’.)Google Scholar
Hall, B. R. (ed.) (2000) Homology: The Hierarchical Basis of Comparative Anatomy. Academic Press, San Diego. (A collection of papers from experts in comparative biology with a focus on the 150th anniversary of Richard Owen’s seminal paper. Homology is dealt with at all levels from molecules to behaviour.)Google Scholar
Kemp, T.S. (1999) Fossils and Evolution. Oxford University Press, Oxford. (Rather than a survey of the extensive information concerning fossil evidence, this book focuses on ‘the ideas, methodology and scope of contemporary palaeobiology’. It is particularly concerned with ideas and the interpretation of fossil evidence.)Google Scholar
Laubichler, M. D. and Maienschein, J. (2009) From Embryology to Evo-Devo (Dibner Institute Studies in the History of Science & Technology Series). MIT Press, Cambridge MA. (A well-integrated book exploring embryology and evolution from a particular, Evo-Devo, viewpoint. A comprehensive study of embryology and developmental genetics as they apply to evolution.)Google Scholar
MacFadden, B. J. (1994) Fossil Horses: Systematics, Paleobiology, and Evolution of the Family Equidae. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK. (Synthesises a large body of data from geology, biology and palaeontology to present a thorough overview of horse evolution.)Google Scholar
Cook, L. M. and Callow, R. S. (1999) Genetic and Evolutionary Diversity. Stanley Thornes, Cheltenham. (A short introduction to population genetics and variation; the text explores the possibility of single-locus and multiple-locus genetic studies explaining the evolutionary process. A broad-ranging and well-evidenced summary.)Google Scholar
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Gillespie, J. H. (2008) Population Genetics: A Concise Guide. (2nd Edition) John Hopkins University Press. (A concise overview and reprint of a popular US primer in this topic. Genetic drift and natural selection are well covered together with an interesting final chapter on the evolutionary advantages of sexual reproduction.)Google Scholar
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Henig, R. M. (2000) A Monk and Two Peas. Weidenfeld and Nicolson, London. (Beginning with William Bateson’s ‘rediscovery’ of Gregor Mendel’s work at the turn of the century, this book relates the story of Mendel from his time at the St Thomas monastery to his death from Bright’s disease in 1884. An excellent account of both the man and his work are provided.)Google Scholar
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Mielke, J. H. and Konisberg, L. W. (2008) Human Biological Variation, 2nd ed. Oxford University Press, USA. (An exploration of human diversity using genetic, anthropological and evolutionary models. Blood group polymorphism and DNA markers are covered in detail with a clear description of basic molecular genetics.)Google Scholar
Neal, D. (2004) Introduction to Population Biology. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK. (Darwin’s theories of natural selection and evolutionary biology are used as underlying themes in the study of population genetics and interactions between species. Problems are provided at the end of each chapter; answers are found at the end of the book. A well written and suitably descriptive introduction to this complex topic.)Google Scholar
Schluter, D. (2000) The ecology of Adaptive Radiation. Oxford University Press, Oxford. (The text focuses on the evolution of ecological diversity. Examples are used throughout and an evidence-based approach is employed. Having worked on the Galapagos finches, Dolph Schluter is currently working on sticklebacks and the evolution of differences between species.)Google Scholar
Vinicius, L. (2010) Modular Evolution. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK. (Arguing from units of inheritance to origins of species to the development of multicellularity and life cycle evolution; this text emphasises, as stated in its subtitle, ‘How natural selection produces biological complexity’.)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Bell, G. (2008) Selection: The Mechanism of Evolution. Oxford University Press, Oxford. (A detailed and up-to-date account of both natural and artificial in a range of different populations.)Google Scholar
Darwin, C. (1859) On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection. John Murray, London. (Every student of evolution should read the Origin in the original – the first edition (reprinted many times) is recommended.)Google Scholar
Ford, E. B. (1976) Ecological Genetics, 4th ed. Chapman & Hall, London. (The classic account of Ford’s and other’s work in ecological genetics.)Google Scholar
Gould, S. J. and Lewontin, R. C. (1979) The Spandrels of San Marco and the Panglossian paradigm: a critique of the adaptationist programme. Proceedings of the Royal Society B, 205, 581598. (Stephen Jay Gould coauthored this account with his friend Richard Lewontin where they argue that not every morphological structure or piece of behaviour can be accounted for by natural selection historical circumstances and chance must also be taken into account. A classic paper.)Google Scholar
Grant, B. S. and Wiseman, L. L. (2002) Recent history of melanism in American peppered moths. Journal of Heredity, 93, 8690. (An interesting account, drawing on UK studies, mapping the rise and fall in the incidence of melanism in the USA.)CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Kimura, M. (1979) The neutral theory of molecular evolution. Scientific American, 241, 94104. (Motoo Kimura’s thesis is that at the molecular level most evolutionary change and most of the variability within a species are caused not by selection but by random drift of mutant genes that are selectively equivalent. A study of neutralism.)CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Krebs, J. R., Davies, N. B. and West, S. A. (2012) An Introduction to Behavioural Ecology, 4th ed. Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford. (Still the standard text on the topic; the text adopts the modern adaptationist programme. This edition is superbly illustrated and reveals much of behavioural evolution.)Google Scholar
Skelton, P. (ed.) (1993) Evolution: A Biological and Palaeontological Approach. Addison-Wesley, Wokingham. (A comprehensive and thorough account of biological evolution. In particular, Tim Halliday’s chapter 7 explores sexual selection and mating systems in great detail; a very readable account.)Google Scholar
Arthur, W. (2014) Evolving Animals. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK. (Concentrating on animal evolution, Wallace Arthur’s book looks at evolution almost from a problem-solving approach – ‘How to make an animal’, ‘How to make a tree’, etc. The book is written with admirable clarity and discusses evolution through a diversity of ideas and concepts.)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Robert, J. S. (2004) Embryology, Epigenesis and Evolution; Taking Development Seriously. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK. (A detailed account of the history of embryonic development looking at how a homogeneous cellular mass can differentiate into a heterogeneous and complex embryo. A well-written exploration of development is illustrated by a range of strategies employed.)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Vinicius, L. (2010) Modular Evolution, How Natural Selection Produces Biological Complexity. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK. (With sections on epistasis, gene expression and the origins of animal phyla, this text looks in detail at information systems and the origins of biological complexity.)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Williams, T. A. and Nagy, L. M. (1995) Arthropod evolution: brine shrimp add salt to the stew. Current Biology, 5, 13301333. (The brine shrimp Artemia franciscana is used to illustrate Hox genes and their expression. The pattern of expression ‘provide a new perspective on the evolution of arthropod body plans’.)CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Wolpert, L., Beddington, R., Jessell, T. et al. (2002) Principles of Development, 2nd ed. Oxford University Press, Oxford. (Looking at developmental biology as being ‘at the core of biology’, this text emphasises main concepts with chapters on the developmental control of individual organisms or groups.)Google Scholar
Harrison, R. G. (ed.) (1993) Hybrid Zones and the Evolutionary Process. Oxford University Press, Oxford. (An excellent ‘popular’ book on speciation.)Google Scholar
Mayr, E. (1963) Animal Species and Evolution. Oxford University Press, Oxford. (It is still worth reading Mayr’s magnum opus on speciation.)Google Scholar
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Otte, D. and Endler, J. A. (eds) (1989) Speciation and Its Consequences. Sinauer, Sunderland, MA. (A series of collected edited works that cover most of the topics seen in this chapter.)Google Scholar
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Trends in Ecology and Evolution, July 2001, vol. 16, No. 7. (A whole issue of a foremost evolution journal was devoted to speciation.)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Hennig, W., Davis, D. D. and Zangeri, R. (1999) Phylogenetic systematics, Illinois, University of Illinois Press. (The original work by Wili Hennig, the founder of cladistics (or as he called it phylogenetic systematics) was published in 1966 and translated by Davis and Zangeri.)Google Scholar
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Richards, R. A. (2016) Biological Classification: A Philosophical Introduction (Cambridge Introductions to Philosophy and Biology). Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK. (A survey of biological classification set within both an historical and human/cultural context. The major philosophical issues and taxonomic limitations are discussed.)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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Dawkins, R. (2009) The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution. Bantam Press, London. (A comprehensive account of Life on Earth introducing evolutionary theory to a lay reader. Topics such as ‘missing links’, ‘macroevolution’ and ‘molecular clocks’ are described in a clear and coherent manner.)Google Scholar
Makishima, A. (2017) Origins of the Earth, Moon and Life: An Interdisciplinary Approach. Elsevier, Amsterdam. (Beginning with the origin of elements, and thence formation of the early solar system, and the oldest records of life, this interdisciplinary reference affords an overview of Life’s potential within our solar system.)Google Scholar
Ridley, M. (2004) Evolution, 2nd ed. Oxford University Press, Oxford. (One of the Oxford Readers providing important writings (on evolution) together with a succinct commentary. Topics cover ‘macroevolution’ and the ‘history of life’.)Google Scholar
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Lesk, A. M. (2007) Introduction to Genomics. Oxford University Press, Oxford. (The elements of heredity comprehensively covered at the molecular level. Chapter 3 (Evolution and Genomic Change) is particularly relevant and explores change at various levels.)Google Scholar
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Dunbar, R. (2014) Human Evolution. Pelican (Penguin Books), London. (An evolutionary psychologist (formerly at the Institute of Cognitive and Evolutionary Anthropology, Oxford), Robin Dunbar explores human cognitive and social evolution through a series of five ‘transitions’. An extensive ‘Bibliography’ and ‘Notes’ concludes this text exploring Man’s unique evolutionary trajectory.)Google Scholar
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Danowitz, M., Vasilyev, A., Kortlandt, V. and Solounias, N. (2015) Fossil evidence and stages of elongation of the Giraffa camelopardalis neck. Royal Society Open Science, 2(10), 150393.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
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Brockman, J. (2016) Life. Harper Perennial, New York. (A collection of interviews and commissioned essays belonging to the ‘Best of Edge’ series ( exploring life and the modern evolutionary synthesis with biologists such as Dawkins and Mayr and Venter, physicists such as Dyson and Sasselov. A fascinating insight into life and evolution from some of the world’s most acclaimed scientists).Google ScholarPubMed
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  • Recommended Reading
  • Mike Cassidy, Durham University
  • Book: Biological Evolution
  • Online publication: 06 November 2020
  • Chapter DOI:
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  • Recommended Reading
  • Mike Cassidy, Durham University
  • Book: Biological Evolution
  • Online publication: 06 November 2020
  • Chapter DOI:
Available formats

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To send content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

  • Recommended Reading
  • Mike Cassidy, Durham University
  • Book: Biological Evolution
  • Online publication: 06 November 2020
  • Chapter DOI:
Available formats