Life's Splendid Drama: Evolutionary Biology and the Reconstruction of Life's Ancestry, 1860-1940
University of Chicago Press, 15. nov 1996 - 525 pages
In 1928, paleontologist William Diller Matthew wrote, "The story of life on earth is a splendid drama". This story has captivated generations of biologists, including those working in the years immediately following publication of Darwin's Origin of Species in 1859. Yet histories of the Darwinian revolution have ignored the main nineteenth-century application of evolution: the attempt to reconstruct the history of life on earth. Now Peter J. Bowler seeks to recover some of this lost history in Life's Splendid Drama, the definitive account of evolutionary morphology and its relationships with paleontology and biogeography. As Bowler tracks major scientific debates over the emergence of the vertebrates, the origins of the main types of living animals, and the rise and extinction of groups such as the dinosaurs, his richly detailed accounts bring to light complex interactions among specialists in various fields of biology. Charting the role of Darwin's ideas and the degree and direction of their influence, Bowler shows how these interactions constituted an interdisciplinary program with a focus on reconstructing the past rather than on mechanisms of evolutionary change. Bowler also examines the socially laden metaphors used by early biologists to describe the history of life, and argues that such usage influenced the development of modern evolutionism by exploiting Darwinian principles outside the context of the genetical theory of natural selection. Much of the rhetoric of "social Darwinism" may thus have been derived not directly from natural selection theory but from the application of Darwinian principles to the rise and fall of different animal groups over time. Bowler's magisterialwork will appeal to historians of science and ideas and also to biologists - particularly those working in evolutionary biology, paleontology, and systematicsinterested in the roots of their disciplines, as well as to the many readers fascinated by Darwin and his influence.
What people are saying - Write a review
Life's splendid drama: evolutionary biology and the reconstruction of life's ancestry, 1860-1940Kasutaja arvustus - Not Available - Book Verdict
Bowler (Norton History of Environmental Sciences, LJ 8/93) has written a comprehensive and critical survey of evolutionary thought (l860-l940) that stresses the movement in phylogenetic research from ... Read full review
THE FIRST EVOLUTIONARY BIOLOGY
THE TREE OF LIFE
ARE THE ARTHROPODA A NATURAL GROUP?
FROM FISH TO AMPHIBIAN
THE ORIGIN OF BIRDS AND MAMMALS
PATTERNS IN THE PAST