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Science History


The Evolution of Biology

by (author) Jan Sapp

Oxford University Press
Initial publish date
Aug 2003
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Aug 2003
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Genesis: The Evolution of Biology presents a history of the past two centuries of biology, suitable for use in courses, but of interest more broadly to evolutionary biologists, geneticists, and biomedical scientists, as well as general readers interested in the history of science. The book covers the early evolutionary biologists-Lamarck, Cuvier, Darwin and Wallace through Mayr and the neodarwinian synthesis, in much the same way as other histories of evolution have done, bringing in also the social implications, the struggles with our religious understanding, and the interweaving of genetics into evolutionary theory. What is novel about Sapp's account is a real integration of the cytological tradition, from Schwann, Boveri, and the other early cell biologists and embryologists, and the coverage of symbiosis, microbial evolutionary phylogenies, and the new understanding of the diversification of life coming from comparative analyses of complete microbial genomes.

The book is a history of theories about evolution, genes and organisms from Lamarck and Darwin to the present day. This is the first book on the general history of evolutionary biology to include the history of research and theories about symbiosis in evolution, and first to include research on microbial evolution which were excluded from the classical neo-Darwinian synthesis. Bacterial evolution, and symbiosis in evolution are also excluded from virtually every book on the history of biology.

About the author

Contributor Notes

Jan Sapp is at McGill University.

Editorial Reviews

"Genesis is a masterwork and a milestone. Highly readable, broad and deep, it is by far the best introduction to the history of the theories of evolution ever written. Impeccable in its scholarship, Jan Sapp's book is fully original and provides information and viewpoints to be found nowhere else in the literature. There is nothing like it. " --Camille Limoges, author of La Selection Naturelle, and co-editor of Historical Studies in History of Biology

"This work is an inspired and well-informed history of the logic of biology, giving us penetrating detail of all the major advances and controversies. Be it evolution, cell or molecular biology, genetics, microbiology, ontogeny, symbiosis or the limning of the organism, the meaty stuff of argument is offered in historical context. Taking account of social, political and ideological movements, and the role of singular personalities, we are also offered a logic of the history. " --Joshua Lederberg, Professor emeritus, Rockefeller University, Nobel laureate

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