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Ancestors in Our Genome

by Eugenie E. Harris

New York: Oxford University Press, 2015. 248 pages.

According to reviewer Daniel Fairbanks, Ancestors in Our Genome attempts “the daunting task of explaining to a lay audience how the massive amount of genomic information currently available to geneticists has informed our understanding of human evolutionary history.” While the book is difficult, he predicts, “Readers will come away from it with a powerful and up-to-date understanding of how the science of genomics is revolutionizing our understanding of human evolution and of evolution in general.”

Animal Weapons

by Douglas J. Emlen

New York: Henry Holt and Company, 2014. 288 pages.

Animal Weapons is a hard-hitting campaign—a bit of a Blitzkrieg through major themes in evolutionary escalation, peppered with dazzling examples from across the spectrum of animals and their adaptations, from the horns of dung beetles to the guns of battleships,” writes reviewer Rafe Sagarin. “Emlen is so intimately immersed in those subjects and such a good communicator that he easily weaves them into some clever new syntheses and clear comparative frameworks.”

Aristotle's Ladder, Darwin's Tree

by J. David Archibald

New York: Columbia University Press, 2014. 256 pages.

“This interesting and pleasantly written book takes readers on a journey through 2500 years of imagery related to the classification of life,” beginning with the Greeks and continuing to the present day, according to reviewer Erica Torrens. She concludes, “Aristotle’s Ladder, Darwin’s Tree will be intellectually stimulating for those interested in the history and philosophy of biology, and especially for those impressed by the importance of the visual for the construction of scientific knowledge.”

Extinction and Evolution

by Niles Eldredge

Buffalo (NY): Firefly, 2014. 256 pages.

Reviewer Corwin Sullivan describes Extinction and Evolution as “a book in the Simpsonian tradition of evolutionary paleontology that is also indisputably ‘full of pictures of fossils’ ... . These pictures accompany seven concise chapters, plus an epilogue, that first bring the reader up to speed on the basics of evolutionary theory and then launch into a brief but admirably clear and informative exploration of some of the ways in which that theory has been augmented and modified by paleontologists over the past few decades.”

How the Earth Turned Green

by Joseph E. Armstrong

Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2014. 576 pages.

How the Earth Turned Green should be required reading for all pre-service biology teachers and on the bookshelf of all K–16 science instructors,” writes reviewer Marshall D. Sundberg, for “Armstrong uses plant evolution, in the broad sense, to demonstrate how to teach the big ideas of science underlying the evolution of life on Earth. ... His refreshing wit and straightforward commentary lead the reader through an evolutionary explanation of why a predominant color of earth is green.”

In Search of Cell History

by Franklin M. Harold

Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2014. 304 pages.

In Search of Cell History offers an ambitious, onestop overview of early cell evolution that covers all major theories related to the origin of life, the early evolution and diversification of cells, and the emergence of eukaryotic cells with their structural novelties, such as nuclei, mitochondria, and plastids,” writes reviewer David Baum. “Harold does a marvelous job of reviewing and summarizing an unwieldy mass of literature on the origin and early diversification of life and providing some opinions about which theories and lines of research seem promising.”

Last Ape Standing

by Chip Walter

New York: Walter & Company, 2013. 221 pages.

Last Ape Standing is an unconventional book on human evolution, in a positive way. Missing are the usual cast of colorful paleoanthropological characters … and many of the fossil discoveries that have shaped the scientific history of paleoanthropology. Instead, the reader gets to explore a panoply of topics, from the co-evolution of music and language to the origins and consequences of primate curiosity. It sparks interest in the many dimensions of human evolution,” writes reviewer Jeffrey K. McKee.

One Plus One Equals One

by John Archibald
Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014. 224 pages.

In his book, “Archibald relates what is now known about the origin of eukaryotes and presents the questions that remain,” writes reviewer Susan Spath. “[H]is book is not easy for a non-specialist to read, but it is enjoyable and rewarding. It would be most useful to readers with reasonably strong science backgrounds who want to learn about the origins of the endosymbiont theory and understand where it stands today. However, One Plus One Equals One will leave any reader with a good understanding of the profound role that endosymbiosis has played in evolution.”


by Marlene Zuk

New York: WW Norton, 2013. 328 pages.

Zuk “is not denying that our ancient ancestors, particularly before the advent of agriculture, had a diet and lifestyle different than those of today,” writes reviewer Linda D. Wolfe. “She is, however, suggesting that what our ancestors ate and the varied details of their lifestyle came about during different times, across many types of geographies, and over changing Pleistocene conditions.” Wolfe recommends the book to anyone interested in “paleodiets” or in human evolution in general.

Shaping Humanity

by John Gurche
New Haven (CT): Yale University Press, 2013. 368 pages.

In Shaping Humanity, the paleoartist John Gurche discusses his work on the hominin sculptures in the Hall of Human Origins at the Smithsonian Institution. Reviewer Pat Shipman writes, “he reveals how he and a Smithsonian committee selected ideas, content, and poses to be portrayed so each would reveal something of the essence of each species. He is knowledgeable about the evidence that underlies his choices for appearance, posture, and message of each creation, and although I disagree with a few tidbits, his choices are carefully made, explained, and embodied.”