The Evolutionary Synthesis
Perspectives on the Unification of Biology New edition
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Evolutionary Synthesis by Ernst Mayr
Book DescriptionBiology was formed into one coherent single science only within living memory. In this volume the thinkers responsible for the "modern synthesis" of evolutionary biology and genetics come together to analyze that remarkable event. In a new preface, Ernst Mayr calls attention to the fact that scientists in different biological disciplines differed considerably in their degree of acceptance of Darwin's theories. Mayr shows us that these differences were played out in four separate periods between 1859 and 1947 - and thus enables us to understand fully why the synthesis was necessary and why Darwin's original theory - that evolutionary change is due to the combination of variation and selection - is as solid at the end of the 20th century as it was in 1859.
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Book DetailsISBN: 9780674272262
(235mm x 155mm x 33mm)
Imprint: Harvard University Press
Publisher: Harvard University Press
Publish Date: 27-Feb-1998
Country of Publication: United States
Books By Author Ernst Mayr
What Makes Biology Unique?, Paperback (April 2007)
This book contains essays by Ernst Mayr, the most eminent evolutionary biologist of the twentieth century.
What Evolution Is, Paperback (December 2002)
What we do and do not know about evolution, by one of the field's pioneering thinkers.
Birds of Northern Melanesia, Hardback (January 2002)
Ernst Mayr and Jared Diamond decided in 1970 to collaborate on an authoritative monograph presenting their data and interpretations of the evolution of the birds of the Solomon and Bismark Islands. This text is the culmination of their research.
Systematics and the Origin of Species from the Viewpoint of a Zoologist, Paperback (September 1999)» View all books by Ernst Mayr
This study, first published in 1942, helped to revolutionize evolutionary biology by offering a new approach to taxonomic principles, and correlating the ideas and findings of modern systematics with those of other life disciplines.
US Kirkus Review » Somewhere between 1920 and 1950, William Provine notes in an epilogue, "a consensus concerning the mechanism of evolution appeared among biologists. . . Whatever it is called - evolution, the modern synthesis, the evolutionary synthesis, or twentieth century Darwinism. . . [it was] a comprehensive and compelling view of the mechanism of evolution." The present volume is no less than an attempt to record how that consensus came about, tapping the memories and interpretations of some of the prime movers as well as latter-day inheritors and historians in the field. The forces to be reconciled were those of the geneticists, other specialists working at the cellular level, and the macrobiologists - those concerned with species, natural selection, taxonomy, paleontology. By the late 1940s, geneticists had taken the lead and laid claim to accomplishing the evolutionary synthesis. Not so, proclaimed Ernst Mayr and C. H. Waddington. In 1974, two workshops were held to address the issue. Mayr was the chairman. Dobzhansky was there. So were Darlington, Provine, Lewontin, DeVore, and such new lights as Stephen Jay Gould, Frank Sulloway, and Robert Trivers. Their retrospective papers, plus contributions from a stellar list of invitees, constitute the text, along with some fascinating biographical appendices. Even a casual reading of the papers points up how disparate were views here and abroad during the first quarter of the century. Many a geneticist was a neo-Lamarckian. Embryologists typically dismissed the genetic material in cells as having no significance for development: after all, the genetic material was the same in all the cells of an animal, but the cells were different. In truth, reading the volume does not clearly explain how synthesis came about - nor even convey exactly what synthesis means. Rather, as Mayr indicates, it shows just how many and how complex were the strands to be woven into synthesis. While the material is all at the professional level, lay readers - and especially students - may find much of this first-hand testimony exciting. For historians and philosophers of science, it is paydirt to be tapped as they debate how pivotal theories form and evolve. What better example than the evolutionary synthesis itself? (Kirkus Reviews)
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Author Biography - Ernst Mayr
Ernst Mayr is Alexander Agassiz Professor of Zoology, Emeritus, at Harvard University. He is also the recipient of numerous honorary degrees and awards, including the Crafoord Prize for Biology, the National Medal of Science, the Balzan Prize, and the Japan Prize.
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