William's Reviews > Eight Little Piggies : Reflections In Natural History

Eight Little Piggies  by Stephen Jay Gould
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Dec 19, 14

bookshelves: biology, us, evolution, nonfiction, essays, science, 20-ce
Read from December 02 to 14, 2014, read count: 1

It's easy to think that we are the most ephemeral of creatures, our lifetimes but a blink in the overall scheme. One of the things I get from reading Gould is the knowledge that we are very ancient creatures. I am an ancient creature. On the cellular level "mitochondria and chloroplasts look uncannily like entire prokaryotic organisms (they have their own DNA and are the same size as bacteria). Almost surely, they began as symbionts within cells of other species and later became more highly integrated to form the eukaryotic cell (so that each cell in our body has the evolutionary status of a former colony.)" (p. 320)

So, not only are we each a living record of hundreds of millions of years of ancestry, but the so-called "junk" DNA--the seemingly useless, nonfunctional copies upon copies of genes we possess--may actually permit the evolution of complexity. We are very ancient yet our species contains the mechanism for further evolution. In light of this, it becomes difficult for me to feel for very long any sense of dislocation from my time and place in the world. Such knowledge grounds one in a complex universe. "Life is continuous in the crucial sense that all creatures form a web of unbroken genealogical linkage." (p. 327)

Here, too, is a reason I love reading. Highly recommended.
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Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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message 1: by Lilo (new) - added it

Lilo Fascinating!


message 2: by Jeanette (new)

Jeanette All of Gould is worth the time and dense effort it takes to sift the background of the forensic and evolutionary biology.


William Yes, I'm pretty much committed to reading all of him now. :-)


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