What Darwin Didn’t Know: The Modern Science of Evolution

Narrated by: Scott Solomon
Length: 12 hrs and 27 mins
4.8 out of 5 stars (136 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Charles Darwin's remarkable On the Origin of Species was a groundbreaking work that fundamentally altered how scientists approached the study of life itself. However, since its publication in 1859, the modern science of biology and genetics has added surprising new dimensions to evolutionary theory.

In this course, you’ll discover what Darwin didn’t know, covering much of the curriculum of an introductory college course in evolutionary biology. No background in science is needed to follow these engaging lectures, delivered by Professor Scott Solomon of Rice University, a gifted teacher and widely traveled field biologist. 

Dr. Solomon reveals how the many gaps and mysteries in the evolutionary theory of Darwin’s day were systematically solved by brilliant researchers, such as Gregor Mendel, Thomas Hunt Morgan, Theodosius Dobzhansky, Rosalind Franklin, James Watson, Francis Crick, Motoo Kimura, and a host of others, who have brought the world into a golden age of biological research. 

Your lessons begin by laying the foundation of Darwin’s theory. Then, you’ll move forward in time, and hear how advances in genetics, molecular biology, paleontology, and even geology have given Darwin’s ideas more depth, and in some cases, turned them on their heads. You’ll uncover how DNA reconstruction has allowed us to gain a clearer picture of evolutionary history and explore the vital role of heredity in the millions of species known today - including species Darwin himself never even dreamed would exist. Throughout these lectures, you’ll apply modern evolutionary theory to better understand the breeding of plants, animals, and genetically modified organisms. Finally, you’ll hear how the cutting-edge science of gene editing is being used to influence evolution, and you’ll peer into the future to gauge the prospects for further evolution of our own species.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio.

©2019 The Great Courses (P)2019 The Teaching Company, LLC

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Amazing journey.

As a physician I've always been interested in how evolution of past events might affect present problems in patients. This is been an amazing journey and I really appreciated and learned a lot from this book. I actually visited the Burgis Schale site. In Canada and it was the best part of the whole trip.

8 people found this helpful

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So much has been added to the knowledge of evolution.

When I studied biology and evolution in college and high school I guess I ended up with the idea that pretty much everything was known about the subject. These lectures showed me the amazing amount of knowledge that has been added in the past 50 years.

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Excellent and clear

Extremely lucid and well organized presentation. Only very rarely (when discussing letter patterns of DNA code) did the narrative become a little too technical for audio format only. Otherwise, one of the best in the Great Courses series I've heard.

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Pretty good

I like reading about evolution. This book served as a good overview of advances since Darwin's day and of general theory. I will say however, that compared to other literature on the subject, it was not especially compelling or well written. Still enjoyable all the same. I recommend "the moral animal" as a personal favorite for those interested in the subject.

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  • LX
  • 05-19-19

Fantastic lectures on evolution

I absolutely loved this audiobook. The lectures are easy to follow and very interesting. I highly recommend it to anyone interested in biology. After all, "nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution." - Dobzhansky

1 person found this helpful

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Like having a term paper read to you for 12 hours

I appreciate the author's depth of knowledge but the presentation of the material is rather tedious. If you don't mind the same repetitive statement-as-a-question and rise-and-fall vocal inflections over and over while the cluttered PDF is basically read to you for 12 hours then you might enjoy this, but I'm trying to finish it and am disappointed in the product so far. Specifically, I think the way the information itself is organized could use some punching up and editing to create better flow. Some sentences and paragraphs are too choppy in structure while others are just blunt recitation of researched fact. The subjects of the sentences shift too frequently within paragraphs, which makes the delivery of the already fractured material even more scattered. It's a nice looking PDF, but it needs a skilled editor and narrator to be a good audiobook.

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Start Slowly, Taper Off from There

I learned much about evolutionary genetics, and some about Darwin. I was hoping the balance might have gone the other way. So much of this course is very interesting, but for listeners without much scientific background, it can be a bit of a slog at times. For me, that meant that Solomon's consistent grammar issues (E.g., he doesn't, for instance, seem to know the difference between "you and I" and "you and me" and routinely settles the verb on the last spoken noun rather than than subject) were ongoing distractions from DNA and RNA sequences that flew right over my head. Still, I have gleaned what I hope is a useful starting point in understanding evolution.

3 people found this helpful

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Lectures like a school girl

While the subject matter is interesting I can’t stand the way this guy seems to read the whole lecture from a script. I also can’t stand his constant upticks and downticks.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 05-07-20

Bloody well done as an audiobook

I studied evolution in university over a decade ago. I’ve since worked in a range of life science fields. So I was wondering whether this audiobook would be a bit fluffy with no substance for me, or totally over the top and scientifically verbose for an average person. It ended up being far better than I expected and I imagine it can be interesting and enjoyable to quite a large audience.

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  • desleighjane
  • 08-08-19

Very engaging!

This was very interesting information, well organized, and presented with enthusiasm. I enjoyed discovering how far this field has come since Darwin's lifetime, and indeed since my student days.