If evolution doesn’t fascinate you, then likely you haven’t read enough about evolution! Luckily, OverDrive has many titles to suit your level of interest, whether you’re simply wondering “How are humans and monkeys related?” or digging into more advanced questions, like “How did evolution result in complex parts, like eyes or feathers?” Answering these questions will teach you a lot about evolution and, ultimately, yourself.
“What Evolution Is” by Ernst Mayr
Ernst Mayr, who passed away in 2005, was one of the 20th century’s leading biologists. In “What Evolution Is,” Mayr summarizes in layman’s teams the current scientific understanding of how all life has evolved. This is a great title for beginners. Included in the appendix is a helpful section called “Short Answers To Frequently Asked Questions.”
“Feathers: The Evolution of a Natural Miracle” by Thor Hanson
Feathers are masterpieces of evolution. Sure, birds use them for flying, regulating body temperature, waterproofing and mating displays. Thor Hanson, a conservation biologist, explains the evolution behind something so beautiful, functional, and complex. He even includes a chapter on my favorite evolutionary wonders, “The Birds of Paradise.”
“Moral Origins: The Evolution of Virtue, Altruism, and Shame” by Christopher Boehm
Christopher Boehm, anthropologist and director of the Jane Goodall Research Center, proposes how we likely developed our moral conscience and how this trait could help us to survive and reproduce, getting us to where we are today. It turns out that altruism, or concern for the welfare of others, is a trait that allowed individuals to thrive in groups and to create more overall egalitarian societies, which ultimately then favored altruists for survival. We continued to develop this trait, which has led to have a such strong sense of what is right and wrong.
“God vs. Darwin: The War between Evolution and Creationism in the Classroom” by Mano Singham
Mano Singham, theoretical physicist and director of the University Center for Innovation in Teaching and Education at Case Western Reserve University, traces the history of the controversy of teaching evolution in the classroom. Since the Scopes Monkey Trial in 1925, opponents of evolution have formed new arguments, including repackaging creationism as a pseudoscientific theory called intelligent design, that they claim should at least be given equal time in schools. This led to a trial in Dover, Penn., in 2005, after which the judge ruled that intelligent design is a form of creationism and is therefore unconstitutional to be taught in the classroom. This left evolution as the only credible scientific theory. Singham explores the reasons that the debate continues on and what is likely to happen in the future.
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