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The Making of the Fittest: DNA and the Ultimate Forensic Record of Evolution | [Sean B. Carroll]

The Making of the Fittest: DNA and the Ultimate Forensic Record of Evolution

DNA is the genetic material that defines us as individuals. Over the last two decades, it has emerged as a powerful tool for solving crimes and determining guilt and innocence. But, very recently, an important new aspect of DNA has been revealed: it contains a detailed record of evolution. That is, DNA is a living chronicle of how the marvelous creatures that inhabit our planet have adapted to its many environments, from the freezing waters of the Antarctic to the lush canopy of the rain forest.
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Publisher's Summary

DNA evidence not only solves crimes; in Sean Carroll's hands, it will now end the Evolution Wars.

DNA is the genetic material that defines us as individuals. Over the last two decades, it has emerged as a powerful tool for solving crimes and determining guilt and innocence. But, very recently, an important new aspect of DNA has been revealed: it contains a detailed record of evolution. That is, DNA is a living chronicle of how the marvelous creatures that inhabit our planet have adapted to its many environments, from the freezing waters of the Antarctic to the lush canopy of the rain forest.

In this fascinating narrative, Sean Carroll guides listeners on a tour of the massive DNA record of three billion years of evolution to see how the fittest are made. And what an eye-opening tour it is - one featuring immortal genes, fossil genes, and genes that bear the scars of past battles with horrible diseases. This book clinches the case for evolution, beyond any reasonable doubt.

©2007 Sean B. Carroll; (P)2007 Tantor Media Inc.

What the Critics Say

"Carroll offers some provocative and convincing evidence." (Publishers Weekly)
"Here is evolution clearly explained and stoutly defended." (Booklist)

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  •  
    Dana Anderson, SC, United States 12-08-11
    Dana Anderson, SC, United States 12-08-11 Member Since 2013
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    "ERUDITE presentation."

    A nearly convincing case for Darwinistic evolution is well presented. The story of evolution thru DNA mutation is fascinating. I have never studied this directly but knew about 1/2 from medical school in the early 90's; it seems the evidence/knowledge has at least doubled in a decade.
    Problems: 1. a century ago, a theory competed with DNA mutation which has been discredited but I think is making a partial comeback (mentioned briefly near the book end with the Russian scientist). It involves traits of parents that they acquired during their life getting passed to progeny. Since this can't involve DNA changes as parent germ cell DNA is already cast, this doesn't fit with "Darwinism". EPIGENETICS is the latest concept. Vaguely, changing gene expression without changing DNA sequence can alter the phenotype of the individual and it seems that how an organism lives can change proteins in their sperm or egg and pass along "learned" traits.
    2. Behe has a similar book in the Audible library where he makes a case for Intelligent Design. Most (but not all) of that is controverted well here. Both authors agree that random point mutations are mostly entropic or destructive and short-sited. Behe can't see how complex protein structures ("toolbox" genes) could possibly evolve with only this mechanism. There is not a good answer for this, Carroll implies that added opportunity for bigger changes occur with gene duplications and the complexities of promoters and complex switching. (And I would add that the 97% or so of our DNA that is non-coding for proteins or "junk" makes a great workshop for new genes to accidentally occur). But, science has not been able to work back to early evolution and describe in any way where the toolbox genes, with perhaps 5 to 15 major protein complexes interacting in a positive way, came about. Panspermia or Intelligent Design cannot yet be ruled out. Carroll's proposition that simple random DNA mutations are fully adequate to support all evolutionary changes from the beginning is not completely proven in my mind and I fully expect other mechanisms to be elucidated in the next 1-2 decades.
    Evolution thru DNA mutation, "survival of the fittest", and common ancestry are about as well proven as gravity and the roundness of the earth. It hardly seems necessary to write such an elaborate book to demonstrate this. But, just as Einstein's relativistic physics updated Newtonian, I think there are important subtleties yet to be discovered.
    I would love it if Carroll updated his book. A lot has been learned already in the last 4-5 years which further illuminates the mechanisms of evolution.
    Another observation: If you are not familiar with genetics, the audible version of this will be very hard to follow. Diagrams help tremendously (so get the book instead or get online).

    0 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dale west jordan, UT, USA 04-02-09
    Dale west jordan, UT, USA 04-02-09
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    "worthless"

    This is a propaganda piece for evolution. Since his purpose is to sell evolution rather than fact and science I would have liked him to seriously examine the basis premises of evolution: 1.chance, 2. time, 3. selection, and 4. large numbers. These premises are questionable to say the last. There just has not been enough time for things to have occurred by chance. That is mathematic fact!!!!

    The author is a con man. If you believe the whoppers he tells you in the first couple of chapters, he will hook you with even bigger ones towards the end.

    Don't be naive. Instead get a copy of THE PSYCHOPATH NEXT DOOR and see where this guy fits into society. As Jesus said of the psychopaths, "they strain at a gnat and swallow a camel."

    Whether psychopath or sociopath, they harm the basic functioning of a society. He condemns religionists on the one hand and is as much an evangelical on the other. The only thing he really has going for him is that the new religion is science and the common man has as hard a time challenging the basic premises of this religion as our forefathers had of challenging the premise that the sun revolved around the earth.

    10 of 116 people found this review helpful
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