Evanston Public Library's Reviews > Why Evolution Is True

Why Evolution Is True by Jerry A. Coyne
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Jul 09, 2010

Read in July, 2010

Like most high school students in the early ‘80s, I was taught the theory of evolution and natural selection in the classroom. But up until recently, I still found it difficult to comprehend how the sophisticated human could have evolved from ancestral monkeys. Mr. Coyne’s Why Evolution is True not only explains evolution from a 21st-century perspective that far surpasses my high school textbooks, he answered many questions about the evolutionary process that—until I read Coyne’s book—had left me wondering. One example: Why do fish, dolphin, and dog embryos look similar to the human embryo? Because, according to Coyne, we’re looking at it backwards: the dog, dolphin, and human embryo look like the embryonic fish—not the other way around. Coyne explains that the developing fetus for each species begins with its original ancestral structure and proceeds through its own evolutionary process. The developing human embryo, for example, develops a yolk, which is later shed; it grow a tail, which is later absorbed; it grows a coat of hair, which is later shed. In other words, evolution is an imperfect, jerryrigged process: in order to get to its current form, it first has to build from its previous ancestral forms. Coyne also explains how evolution produces such drastic changes across species; artificial evolution (such as dog breeding); the seemingly counter-evolutionary mating behaviors of male and female animals; and the genetic heritage of humans and apes based on recent DNA sequencing. Largely written in response to recent controversies over teaching Intelligent Design in the classroom, Coyne’s Why Evolution is True does not disappoint. –Russ (Reference)
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