This week I read "The Greatest Show on Earth" by Richard Dawkins. In this book, Dawkins presents extensive evidence for evolution of life on Earth.
Dawkins examines evolution in several aspects ranging from physiology to biochemistry, from anatomy to palaeontology, from biogeography to mathematical modelling. It was a vast book, difficult to sum up in one post, but I'll list some of my favourite bits.
In this book I learned that fossils are not necessary to prove evolution, though it provides a good proof. To this day, not a single fossil has turned up in a wrong date order. Epigenetics was one more interesting thing to learn, where genetic expression bring about phenotypic effects and how it affects and differs in natural and artificial selection.
Dawkins lists several experiments in which evolution can be observed right here, in a single human lifetime or even less, especially with bacteria and domestication of animals. Were humans the first animals to bring about artificial selection? How did flowers get the colours and nectar?
Dawkins dives deep into why embryology is critical for evolution. Why are some trees so taller than others and how does 'forest economy' decide it? Why do snakes 'swim on land'? And how do whales resemble land mammals?
This book explores step-by-step and layer-by-layer study of evidences for evolution. Reading this book was a bilateral process for me. My biology background helped me understand this book faster and better; and this book refreshed and enriched my existing biology knowledge to even greater depths. I can't say the language was easy, but in my experience it was a bit easier than other Dawkins' books.
Everyone should read this book to understand how life on earth works. We are surrounded by endless forms, most beautiful and most wonderful, and it is no accident, but the direct consequence of evolution by non-random natural selection – the only game in town, the greatest show on Earth.
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