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Published: 13 September 2007

256 Pages | 7 lineart, 10 halftones


ISBN: 9780195306750

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Darwinian Detectives

Revealing the Natural History of Genes and Genomes

Norman A. Johnson

  • This is the first book geared to the general public that explores how biologists use DNA information to address questions about the processes of evolution, and in particular natural selection. Other books (see below) have addressed how biologists can determine the dates of when humans and chimps split and like questions about our evolutionary history, but this is the first that goes into detail about how we detect the action of natural selection and other evolutionary forces acting on genes.
  • This is also the first book that discusses what we can learn from examining the chimpanzee genome in addition to that of our species.
  • The last chapter (chapter 12) is devoted to properties of the genome (size, in particular). This is the first book for general audiences that addresses this subject in depth.
  • The book is very current with many 2005 and 2006 references. These include discussions of the recent work on avian flu, the chimpanzee genome studies, the dog genome studies, recent dating of Neanderthal samples, and the Kitzmiller/Dover Intelligent Design trial and decision (from December 2005).
  • Current "Event" Topics covered: Chapter 1 contains a discussion of the H5N1 bird flu strain and its potential to cause a flu pandemic in humans. Chapter 1 in its entirety outlines the practical importance of evolutionary studies, using timely examples to present the case. Chapter 2 is a discussion about the Intelligent Design movement, dealing both the scientific critique of ID as well as the political and religious underpinnings of the movement. The recent discovery of the Flores "Hobbit Man" in the Interlude on Human Evolution, as well as at the end of the Chapter 7 (on Neanderthals). Chapter 7 is about Neanderthals, and whether they should be considered a separate species from humans or just a subspecies. Johnson presents several very recent studies that are not included in the other books about this subject. Research based on the recent sequencing of the chimp genome is discussed in Chapters 8 and 9.

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