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Reciprocating Bill

Posts: 4265
Joined: Oct. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: July 09 2007,18:26   

I've completed Endless Forms Most Beautiful. It left me feeling a bit underwhelmed - not by the astounding discoveries vis the evolution of development described by Carroll, but by the narrative structure of the book itself. It was a great thrill to follow him into the Cambrian explosion, and as he unfolded his presentation of the logic of animal bodies (modularity, repetitive reuse of modules for differing adaptive functions, etc.), but I found his discussions of butterfly eyespots and the evolution of black pigmentation that follow a bit anticlimactic, and the sections on evolution and education rather obviously tacked on (in fact, I didn't bother with them). I would have given the book a different, more cumulative narrative structure.

I also wondered whether somewhat MORE technical detail was called for in his description of the operation of genetic toolkits and the logic of switching, as I left these passages not quite able to visualize how all this works. Perhaps others who are more sophisticated vis contemporary biology can comment.

Lastly, I felt frustrated by the lack of footnotes, endnotes, references - SOMETHING to give guidance to find quoted material - eg. Gould on the implications of toolkit genes - do I really have to find a quoted passage in the Gouldian Brick myself?

However, there are some wonderful passages describing the logic of research that leverages common descent to which the likes of FTK should attend. And vis the above criticisms, I am certainly open to being told that I didn't quite get it.

[edit] I somewhat overlooked the section entitled "Sources and Further Reading" at the back of the book, which provides some information on sources and is moderately helpful - but STILL does not give citations for significant quotations. Example: on Page 72, first paragraph, a passage from "The Structure of Evolutionary Theory" (Gould) vis the genetics of development is quoted, but there is no indication of the page number either at the quotation or in the afterward.

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  443 replies since June 15 2007,14:54 < Next Oldest | Next Newest >  

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