Tanja Berg's Reviews > The Selfish Gene

The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins
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's review
Aug 30, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: science, evolution
Read from March 11 to 13, 2012

I loved this book! Informative, easy to read and surprisingly up-to-date and current despite having been written more than 30 years ago.

The purpose and interest of a gene is to progress to the next generation. The genes that are succesfully passed on proliferate and the ones which do not disappear. This does influence animal and human instinct. Although the influence of genes on human nature isn't mentioned, it's in the message. This is not to say that human beings are without choice or free will, it just means that we are predisposed to react in certain ways. Anyway, this philosophical discussion is nothing Dawkins dwells on and anyone particularly interested should seek out Steven Pinker's "the blank slate instead.

The most fascinatin tidbit of facts is ants - belonging to a group called Hymenoptera which also includes bees and wasps - and their strange relationship to each other. The "queen" is an egglaying machine, distributing sperm she collected once to her eggs. The eggs that are not fertilized with sperm are born as males and contain only a single set of chromosomes and no father! Fascinating, I spent half an hour of bedtime gushing over this fact to my fiancé who did not really find this half as interesting as I did. At any rate, this means that the female descendants of one queen, all sisters, share not 1/5 of each other's genes but 3/4's as the male chromosome set is always the same. This also means that these sister workers are extremely interested in keeping the queen breeding more sisters which contain much of the same genes as they do - more genes in fact than offspring would share.

So yes, although the general content of this book is now generally known, it is still extremely well worth reading to anyone with least bit of interest in evolution and biology. The beauty is in the details. A glorious achievement!
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03/11/2012 page 60
05/09/2016 marked as: read
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