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The Mystery of Metamorphosis: A Scientific Detective Story

3.47  ·  Rating details ·  55 ratings  ·  11 reviews
Metamorphosis has intrigued human observers for thousands of years. While everyone knows this trick of nature transforms caterpillars into butterflies, fewer are aware that this process of transformation also occurs in many other insect species, as well as in amphibians and-in its greatest diversity-in marine creatures. Still, despite its widespread occurrence, metamorphos ...more
Hardcover, 294 pages
Published April 7th 2011 by Chelsea Green Publishing Company
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Feb 25, 2014 rated it did not like it
I was hesitant about this book, as it seemed from the synopsis that it was pushing extreme or even crank views and to a large extent, this was correct. Much of the book, I think couldn't be done today, as anyone reading would say "and what does the molecular evidence say?" Some of this is handwaved away, claiming the researcher couldn't afford the molecular studies, which might well have been true 20-30 years ago but even then, with most people could study chromosomes under an inexpensive micros ...more
Elliott Bignell
Apr 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing
My pleasure in this brilliant and sometimes horrific scientific story was heightened by the discovery that the late Lynn Margulis played an important enabling role. Equally the involvement of the Isle of Man, one of my favourite places on Earth, as the locus of marine biological work. The supplementary fact that it is engagingly written and deals with science that is genuinely unsettled and sometimes even unfamiliar renders it a work of uncommon fascination.

Metamorphosis at some stage engages ev
Diane Kistner
Oct 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Mad Atlantean Scientists and the Evo-Devo Band!

I'm kidding in my title, people. Well, somewhat. (Evo-Devo, as you'll learn in this book, is shorthand for "evolution of development" as studied by, who else, evolutionary developmental biologists—informally known as evo-devos. And some of the studies going on now in this cutting-edge field sound like what some New Age folks believe lead to the downfall of Atlantis.)

Let me just say that Frank Ryan's book is a mind-blowing experience, so much so that
Oct 01, 2012 rated it liked it

I got a copy of this book to review through the Amazon Vine program. It ended up being an interesting, and at times boring, read. If you are really interested in evolution theories that compliment or go against Darwin’s theory of evolution this might be a good book to read.

The first part of this book goes into great detail about the experiments of a guy named Williamson. Williamson has a theory that marine species did not necessarily evolve but in some cases cross-hybridized to form new species.
Mark Stephenson
Oct 15, 2011 rated it really liked it
A challenging read for a non-scientist like me, but tells the touching and inspiring story of Donald Williamson, a marine biologist whose investigations put him at odds with much of the evolutionary theory of our day and who may have the best explanation yet put forward for the Cambrian explosion.To quote Ryan," the Cambrian explosion has been a source of controversy since first observed by geologists in the 1830's. Charles Darwin was well aware of its challenge to his ideas of gradualist evolut ...more
Sep 07, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: re-reading
My expectations are probably at fault for my "it was okay" rating.

Reading some of Lynn Margulis' brief mentions of trans-species (and all the way up to trans-phylum) hybridization made me really curious about this "new theory" that says evolution isn't the be-all end-all of biodiversity -- that direct transfer of genes is possible and sometimes results in amazing new forms, and may explain why larvae are so different from adults in animals that undergo metamorphosis.

This book says the mystery i
Colleen Reed
May 31, 2016 rated it liked it
In "The Mystery of Metamorphosis" Frank Ryan provides readers with both the historical background and biological principles necessary for understanding how evolution or change occurs at the microscopic level. While Ryan does a good job at introducing the various researchers and scientists who worked towards understanding metamorphosis, this writing was often dry and did not always flow well. The information pertaining to biology and physiology was good but also challenging and not very accessibl ...more
Dylan Benito
Jul 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This book was awesome. Ryan's style has really picked up in the years he has been writing. The text was scientific, but readable. The chapters were full of examples, but not long winded. The overall message was clear and ran throughout the book.

The Mystery of Metamorphosis definitely brings up some interesting ideas about evolution and touches on one of my favorite subjects, evo-devo. If you have ever wondered where we come from, and how we evolved, this is a very interesting read.

I can't wait
Jul 11, 2011 added it
Not the most fun summer weekend read, unless you can get really worked up and excited over sea urchin larvae and other such creatures. I probably spent a total of two hours reading bits and pieces. I think Ryan is presenting an intriguing and revolutionary idea – that metamorphosis is the result of hybridization between different species on entirely different branches of the tree of life. The proof and the details, however, are a tad tedious for a common reader.
Emily Brown
Oct 09, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science, kindle, history
Tons of details about metamorphosis, mainly in insects, but later in the book about animals and humans. Only a mention of Hox genes, which was VERY disappointing, but the book was more focused on hormones than genes themselves. Still a good read!
Jul 11, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science-nature
An interesting theory in need of some additional research. The examples were fascinating
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Frank Ryan is a consultant physician in the UK as well as being an innovative evolutionary biologist, who has introduced the concepts of aggressive symbiosis to virology, and the concepts of genomic creativity and the holobiontic human genome to the story of human evolution. His major scientific interest has been the pioneering and development of the concept of viruses as symbionts, thus bringing ...more