This book shows what can be achieved by combining insights from sensory physiology with anatomy, phylogeny and the fossil record across the widest range of organisms to document the evolution of a biological system. It demonstrates how the study of living forms can successfully be used to interpret fossil ones, and vice versa. The book's magnificent sweep is all-encompassing, and remarkably up-to-date for such a cross-disciplinary work. It's rare for one person to have such a broad background, but Schwab has achieved this, such that the work provides an example for future studies of the kind.
-Prof. Jennifer A. Clack, ScD, FRS
Professor and Curator of Vertebrate Palaeontology,
University Museum of Zoology
An astounding erudite and exciting visual description of eye evolution, something every inquisitive biologist, veterinarian, neuroscientist, or ophthalmologist should have in their library. This book contains 400 illustrations that define and refine the text providing a unique look at the how the eye was achieved. It is truly one of a kind.
Bruce E. Spivey, M.D., M.S., M.Ed.
President, International Council of Ophthalmology
Schwab's lavishly illustrated book documents the amazing proliferation of eyes across the animal kingdom, in all their variations and all their splendour, and it explains the pathways by which these eyes have evolved. Aimed at the non-specialist but intelligent reader, the book begins with the early evolution of life on earth, and sets the scene for the advent of eyes that took place some 500-600 million years ago (mya). By combining fossil evidence with information from extant "primitive" organisms, Schwab explains current ideas about the simple animals that were present during the Ediacaran period (around 600 mya), about the light-detection mechanisms and the genetic machinery that they possessed, and about the split of these primitive animals into two major divisions
- comprising on the one hand most invertebrates and on the other hand our own line that led to vertebrates and mammals.
High on the agenda is the invention, around the time of the Cambrian explosion in body forms (more than 500 mya), and the subsequent re-invention, of the two radically different forms of eye: the camera-style eye (as we have) with a single lens, and the compound eye, with multiple repeated units each having its own lens or mirror. Using beautiful images, Schwab charts the myriad variations on these two themes that have been employed by countless species, extinct and extant, over the course of 500 million years of global experimentation, refinement, and rejection. The result is a stunning book that will serve both to introduce non-specialists to the concepts of evolution and eye evolution and also as a reference work for experts.
Trevor D Lamb
Professor of Neuroscience
John Curtin School of Medical Research
The Australian National University
The evolution of the eye was unquestionably one of the most important innovations in the history of life. Ivan Schwab has synthesized a huge array of disparate information to provide us with an indispensable guide through the complexities of visual systems throughout the animal kingdom.
Richard Fortey FRS FRSL
"Which leads to a just published book -- a most remarkable book -- that needs to be in the library of every school and college, and maybe in every household ...There aren't many books like this one, transformative books that provide a wondrous experience -- especially for young people -- just by turning the pages of mesmerizing illustrations of the evolution of the eyes that are looking at the book... A deep majestic event: human eyes looking at a book explaining the evolution of human eyes. (The only event that I know of with more majesty is the human brain contemplating its own evolution.)" -- Huffington Post
"Evolution's Witness: How the Eyes Evolved is an outstanding book. It can be highly recommended. Every neuroophthalmologist should strongly consider adding this book to their library. It would also be valuable for ophthalmologists, neurologists, and neurosurgeons interested in the field of evolution." -- Walter M. Jay, MD, Neuro-ophthalmology
"An all-inclusive glossary and chapter-specific references accommodate diverse readers of this captivating text. Appendices detailing evolution of ocular muscles, retinal blood supply, cornea, lens, accommodation, and photoreceptors prove in valuable for specialists and generalists alike. Evolution's Witness, in whole or part, is an essential mainstay for multiple disciplines, irreplaceable for vision scientists and eye care professionals." -- Jeff C. Rabin, The Journal of the American Academy of Optometry
"Evolution's Witness can serve a variety of uses. For the scholar of vision, it is a comprehensive reference but also a source of inspiration and ideas for new ways to study myriad aspects of vision. For the instructor, it would function well as a textbook in a seminar, since it is laid out in a didactic and accessible way, with clear and engaging writing. With its sumptuous illustration, it would make a great coffee-table book for anyone with an interest in biology. The book is also an implicit riposte to the fallacy that eyes are too complex to have evolved by natural selection, so it will also be useful for those engaged in countering creationist agendas. The book has helpful appendices on detailed anatomical matters that are discussed at many points in the book." --
Daniel Graham, Perception
"This comprehensive and beautifully illustrated text should sit on the shelves of all students, graduates and academics with an interest in evolution, adaptation, neural plasticity and natural history. For those more intimately working in the field of visual neuroscience (including optometrists and ophthalmologists), it provides a unique and holistic perspective that provides the context in which we are all working. The book will also emphasize how inadequate the human visual system is in many ways and how much we can learn from nature. Therefore, I highly recommend you to witness the 'inimitable contrivances' of the eye in evolution and appreciate the exquisite complexity of how different organisms form an optical image of the world and convert this to a neural image
that is recognizable by the central nervous system." -- Clinical and Experimental Optometry