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What Evolution Is

3.97  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,324 Ratings  ·  49 Reviews
At once a spirited defense of Darwinian explanations of biology and an elegant primer on evolution for the general reader, What Evolution Is has several audiences in mind: those scientists and nonscientists who accept evolutionary thinking but do not know exactly how it works, and those who accept evolution but are not sure the Darwinian explanation is correct. With rare c ...more
Published December 5th 2002 by Phoenix (first published January 28th 1964)
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Asma Ahmad the evolution is the processby which different kinds of living organism arebelived to havedeveloped from earlier forms, especially by natural…morethe evolution is the processby which different kinds of living organism arebelived to havedeveloped from earlier forms, especially by natural selection or gradual development or in chemistry is the giving off of gaseous product or of heat(less)
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"WHAT EVOLUTION IS", a classic book on this topic, opens with an interesting foreword by Jared Diamond (author of Guns, Germs and Steel and The third Chimpanzee among other books), approaching the importance of how and why evolution needs to be understood not only by the scientific community but also by the general public. I have to say that now I understand the great influence Ernst Mayr I have read on Diamond's publications, specially the role that geography plays on speciation.

In my opinion,
Riku Sayuj

I am guessing most of the science text-books borrowed from this masterpiece to convey these ideas effectively. But that also means that when someone goes back and reads the original it sounds too text-book-ey, in presentation and content. Not many ideas here which you wouldn't have been exposed to, but still a valuable book to turn to if you are coming to the field for the first time, or after a long break.

I am giving it 3 stars only because I didn't get much out of it and had to skim through i
Charles Eliot
I've been reading Stephen Jay Gould's final book, "The Structure of Evolutionary Theory". For all the book's impressive bulk, the central argument is straightforward.

The modern interpretation of Darwin's theory (steady, continuous, and incremental evolution filtered by the agent of natural selection) has vanquished the theories that came before it (saltation, orthogenesis, Lamarkism, etc) but some key questions linger. For example, fossils often show species staying unchanged, in evolutionary st
Franziska Self fisken
This is a wonderfully easy-to-read book that explains evolution in good accessible English and contrasts the theory of evolution with other theories and philosophies such as creationism. My daughter had borrowed it as background reading for her Biology undergraduate course but I felt that it was geared to intelligent laymen too. Due to hectic time pressures, I only had a few hours. However, I managed to skim through the book in only a couple of hours, as it was laid out in such a manner one coul ...more
Jul 05, 2016 Linda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
While intended for the non-biologist, this book still makes some pretty strong demands of the reader. It's worth sticking with though as it gives the best description of the mechanisms and processes of evolution that I've read.

In particular I've always wondered about the process of speciation and while this book doesn't provide all the answers (largely because we haven't discovered them all yet) it does a good job of defining the various ways speciation occurs. And it does it in fairly clear, ea
Geoffrey Benn
“What Evolution Is,” by renowned evolutionary biologist Ernst Mayr, is a non-mathematical overview of modern evolutionary thought. The book starts with a brief rebuttal of creationist arguments, then turns to mechanisms of evolution and speciation, and finally to human evolution. I found it to be a written at a somewhat odd level – I think that it is ideally suited for well-educated, highly motivated readers who are seriously delving into evolution for the first time, or for readers who have had ...more
Dec 28, 2009 Adam rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Adam by: Alex Hiatt
Mayr presents here a thorough overview of the current state of evolutionary science. By comparing them to the basic principles (which he states very clearly) of evolution and the processes through which it occurs, he refutes misconceptions, and thus develops for the reader a clear understanding of what evolution is NOT.

The book begins, then, with an overview of the history of evolutionary science, examining carefully how each of the historical debates regarding evolution were resolved in favor
Steven Peterson
Jan 15, 2010 Steven Peterson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ernst Mayr is one of the key figures in the development of the synthetic theory of evolution, by which Mendelian genetics was wed to Darwinian natural selection. The end result is a powerful paradigm that does well in explaining change in living forms. Especially extraordinary in the case of this book is that he was nearing 100 years of age when he wrote it. And it is a literate, accessible description of evolution that non-biologists can easily understand.

My interest in Mayr goes back to gradu
Mar 08, 2010 Mark rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ernst Mayr is a reknown evolutionary biologist who has been writing since(at least) the late fifties. That being said, for anyone interested in this book, it must be remembered that he is not a novelist. Mayr's writing style is that of a scientist, which while thorough and although he claims this book is for the 'non-specialist', and as such the book is difficult to read unless you have at least some background in biology.

What makes this particular book special is two-fold: 1st, it is written by
Jul 30, 2013 Reymil rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Having watched a number of National Geographic Wild shows, I was suddenly intrigued how certain animals have this inherent trait(s) that enable them to adapt with their environment. I know little of evolution, so I figured its time to broaden my knowledge about the most controversial science topic. I needed a book about evolution written specifically for nonscientist individuals like myself.

What Evolution Is is that scientific book. It's written in an accesible language that it's easy to underst
Shahine Ardeshir
Oct 28, 2012 Shahine Ardeshir rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Before I begin to gush about how much I enjoyed this book (and I did!), I should start with one caveat: This is not a book for casual reading. So if you're someone who's somewhat curious about evolution, I'd suggest starting with something a little lighter (Your Body: The Fish that Evolved, for instance). If, on the other hand, you're hooked on evolution and want to go into more depth, this is the book for you.

Enrst Mayr has done a fabulous job of synthesizing decades of research and debate into
Feb 09, 2012 Maxczapanskiy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nature
As one of the leading evolutionary biologists of the 20th century, Ernst Mayr's work was integral in the modern evolutionary synthesis between natural selection and genetics. Before he passed away in 2005, he created what is essentially a guidebook to life - where it may have begun, how it changes over time, and the processes by which that change is effected. It is intended for the educated layperson and admirably walks the line between simplified and technical. No one would mistake Mayr for a n ...more
Apr 13, 2013 Aurelien rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science, biology
Perfect. Here at last is a great book explaining the essential facts about evolutionary biology to everyone -novices and afficionados alike. There's a lot of introductory books on the topic, but this one stands out for at least two reasons.

First, Ernst Mayr is not taking side when dealing with arguable issues. Well, he certainly has his convictions (pro-gradualism, anti-selfish gene hypothesis...) but, he is very honest and fairplay with views opoosite to his own. We can't say the same about eve
Vraj je to pohľad na evolúciu, ktorý je určený aj pre širokú verejnosť. Nuž, ak myslia širokou verejnosťou laika, tak ten má naozaj malú šancu pochopiť, čo sa tu píše. Ak myslia širokou verejnosťou ľudí, čo sa biológii venujú aspoň vo forme koníčka, tak áno, je to aj pre širokú verejnosť :D
Apr 29, 2014 Prajapromodya rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: praja
this is grate help to education ,thank you
Jun 15, 2015 Tycoon rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Affable but out of date. Whales aren't mesonychids.
Debrah A
Mar 28, 2013 Debrah A rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science
Written by a highly notable figure, the book is an authoritative tome of information of what evolution is, and more importantly, what it isn't. But I must say that it would have been a good read at the time it appeared. Matter is much better organized in today's popular science books and the flow is good enough to keep most people going.

If you want an intro to Evolution, there are many more books available today than was at the time this came out. If you want a text with historical significance,
Sep 05, 2011 David marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Well, it was certainly an introduction to evolution, but unless you have a solid science (biology) background, or love using a dictionary/Wikipedia, I wouldn't bother starting it just yet. It really does seem to be written for some one that is more than passively familiar with biological terms and processes. If you want an introduction for the layperson, try something else. If you are currently taking or remember your biology courses, give it a go.
Nov 10, 2011 Tom rated it it was amazing
This is a great book, even if you are religious or not, this book will certainly answer any queries you have on evolution.
why i chose to read this- my father recommended this book to me because of my fascination with natural history and biology.
who would i recomend this to- anyone who is wondering how evolution works.
i loved this book it is probably the best book i have read since the origin of species.
Mar 09, 2012 Nathan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
It's not that it's not informative, but it's rather too technical to be an introductory book, which, with a title like that is what you expect it to be. You actually do have to already have a background in biology (or biological anthropology) to really understand what he's talking about, which makes it exactly the wrong book to give to a layperson.
Sep 23, 2010 Barbara rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Evolution is fact not theory and Mayr supports this statement with facts. I'm not a scientist and I found some of the scientific language overwhelming but I made myself get through it and was surprised at how much I do understand. He filled in a lot of gaps for me especially about the evolution of species. I'm glad I read it.
May 24, 2012 Zrinka rated it really liked it
You can see that he was an old man when he wrote this book, because he keeps repeating some pieces of information, but it's absolutely splendid! If you're interested in evolution, this is your book. Even is you already know everything about evolution, you're still going to enjoy this book.
Dec 20, 2011 Carlos rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ernst Mayr es posiblemente el biólogo evolutivo más importante desde Darwin. Este es un libro tan básico para comprender la evolución como "El origen de las especies", y un buen punto de partida para no tener que empezar en 1859 y, sobre todo, no quedarse allí.
Aug 16, 2007 J rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science
As someone about to dive into a biology degree, this book provide an excellent broad discussion of the many aspects and topics which make up evolution. It lies somewhere between the average popular science book on evolution and an undergraduate textbook.
Jody Fanning
Dec 13, 2014 Jody Fanning rated it it was amazing
Not an introductory book and a bit disjointed, but it covers pretty much everything you would need to know and more. That is probably the only problem, sorting out the essential details from all the other information may be a bit difficult.
Mar 09, 2013 Ali rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
tema evolusi adalah tema yang menjadi akar dalam biologi. buku ini berhasil membuat sedikit rangkuman tentang evolusi sebagai point of view namun buku yang tidak dimaksudkan untuk menjawab banyak keraguan tentang evolusi.
Jul 29, 2007 Aga rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anybody wanting a really great overview of evolution
I read this book knowing alot of the material in it already, but also learned a few things that I didn't know. It was very well written and anybody who is interested in learning a little bit more about evolution should read it.
Sam Faith
Mar 02, 2016 Sam Faith rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A magnificently detailed, yet accessible and simplified explanation about the process of evolution and how multiple applications of the scientific method to various aspects of evolution prove the process as fact.
Nick Black
Jun 24, 2008 Nick Black rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Borders, recommendation by a friendly Morehouse history professor, 2008-05-13. An absolutely phenomenal introduction to a science I'm really, embarrassingly enough, just now coming to know.
Oct 23, 2009 Barefootinthedirt rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: anthropology
This was a well written explanation of evolution. The explanation covers from the beginning to the appearance of modern humans. A great choice for teaching evolutionary theory.
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  • Evolution: The Triumph of an Idea
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  • The Making of the Fittest: DNA and the Ultimate Forensic Record of Evolution
  • Evolution vs. Creationism: An Introduction
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  • Only a Theory: Evolution and the Battle for America's Soul
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  • Evolution: The Remarkable History of a Scientific Theory (Chronicles)
  • Why Darwin Matters: The Case Against Intelligent Design
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  • Darwin's Ghost: The Origin of Species Updated
  • River Out of Eden: A Darwinian View of Life
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Ernst Walter Mayr (July 5, 1904 – February 3, 2005) was one of the 20th century's leading evolutionary biologists. He was also a renowned taxonomist, tropical explorer, ornithologist, and historian of science. His work contributed to the conceptual revolution that led to the modern evolutionary synthesis of Mendelian genetics, systematics, and Darwinian evolution, and to the development of the bio ...more
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“No amphibian succeeded in adapting to salt water.” 1 likes
“Actually, the entire ascent of life can be presented as an adaptive radiation in the time dimension. From the beginning of replicating molecules to the formation of membrane-bounded cells, the formation of chromosomes, the origin of nucleated eukaryotes, the formation of multicellular organisms, the rise of endothermy, and the evolution of a large and highly complex central nervous system, each of these steps permitted the utilization of a different set of environmental resources, that is, the occupation of a different adaptive zone.” 1 likes
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