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For Further Reading

Darwin, C. R. 1859. On the origin of species by means of natural selection, or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life.

Reference for: Chapter 12, The Foundations of Evolutionary Theory

Haldane, J. B. S. 1932. The Causes of Evolution. Longman: UK.

Reference for: Chapter 12, The Foundations of Evolutionary Theory


*Long, John A. 1995. The Rise of Fishes: 500 Million Years of Evolution. John Hopkins University Press: MD

This lavish overview of the evolution of fishes is not the most detailed but its illustrations and photographs give a rich sense of the evidence on which our understanding of fish evolution is based. It makes a highly readable reference for students and a terrific desk reference for instructors called upon to teach aspects of fish evolution.

Reference for: Chapter 12, Spotlight 12.1

*Raup, David. 1991. Extinction: Bad Genes or Bad Luck? W.W. Norton: NY

This “little” book summarizes the evidence for five major extinctions in the geologic records and their causes. It’s a highly readable and engaging account that will quickly bring the reader up to date on this fascinating topic.

Reference for: Chapter 12, The Foundations of Evolutionary Theory


*Stott, Rebecca. 2003. Darwin and the Barnacle: The Story of One Tiny Creature and History’s Most Spectacular Scientific Breakthrough. Norton: NY

This book brings to the forefront Darwin’s painstaking and highly important work on barnacles. It might be argued that Darwin formulated his ideas about evolution and natural selection from studying barnacles. Although this is a “storybook”, in the sense that it weaves a narrative about Darwin’s barnacle work, it does illuminate this important and little known work in an engaging and instructive manner.

Reference for: Chapter 12, The Foundations of Evolutionary Theory

*Carroll, Sean B. 2006. The Making of the Fittest: DNA and the Ultimate Forensic Record of Evolution. W. W. Norton: NY

The evolutionary record is contained in the DNA of organisms. It is a history that we can finally begin to read.



*Coyne, Jerry A., and H. Allen Orr. 2004. Speciation. Sinauer Associates: MA.

Coyne and Orr have written a textbook covering all aspects of speciation, emphasizing modern research on this topic.


*Ellis, Richard. 2001. Aquagenesis: The Origin and Evolution of Life in the Sea. Viking Penguin Books: NY

Ellis is a masterful storyteller and illustrator. There are better books on this subject but if you like Ellis way of weaving facts, this book should please you.


*Fortey, Richard. 1997. Life: A Natural History of the First Four Billion Years of Life on Earth. Vintage Books: NY

Fortey narrates the history of life on Earth, citing his own work and the research of other scientists to piece together the puzzles of how life evolved.


*Fortey, Richard. 2000. Trilobite! Eyewitness to Evolution. Alfred A. Knopf: NY

All you ever wanted to know about trilobites in an engaging, delightful prose.

*Gould, Stephen Jay. 1989. Wonderful Life: The Burgess Shale and the Nature of History. W. W. Norton: NY

Stephen Jay Gould delights some and irritates others but he always manages to inspire thoughtful reflection on a topic. In this book, he discusses in great detail the Burgess Shale and how it paints a picture of the “progression” of evolution unlike what is commonly perceived. Gould sees evolution not only as “survival of the fittest” but also as “survival of the lucky.”

*Gould, Stephen Jay. 2001. The Book of Life: An Illustrated History of the Evolution of Life on Earth. W.W. Norton: IA

*Gould, Stephen Jay. 2002. The Structure of Evolutionary Theory. Belknap Press of Harvard University Press: MA

This immense volume details Gould’s provocative and often controversial views on the evolution of life on Earth. To his credit, Gould is typically entertaining, and this book reads like a good novel. Unfortunately, you have to read a lot of it if you are generally unfamiliar with his ideas or the nuances of evolution. Nonetheless, it’s an essential reference for a biologist’s library.

*Hull, David L. 2001. Science and Selection: Essays on Biological Evolution and the Philosophy of Science. Cambridge University Press: UK

Hull’s essays educate and entertain and get the reader to thinking more deeply about science and its effects on humanity. His essays on evolution are a big help to those who need a refresher or those who require greater ammunition in the verbal wars with antievolutionists.

*Johnson, Kirk R., and Richard K. Stucky. 1995. Prehistoric Journey: A History of Life on Earth. Roberts Rinehart Publishers: CO.

Based on dioramas at the Denver Museum of Natural History, this delightfully illustrated book traces the history of life from microbes to mammals, with an emphasis on dinosaurs. Its brevity notwithstanding, this book does a great job of providing the fossil evidence on which the scientific interpretation of the history of life is based.

*Kirschner, Marc W. and John C. Gerhart. 2005. The Plausibility of Life: Resolving Darwin’s Dilemma. Yale University Press: CT

Kirscner and Gerhart tackle the origins of new species and evolutionary complexity.

*Knoll, Andrew. 2003. Life on a Young Planet: The First Three Billion Years of Evolution on Earth. Princeton University Press: NJ

This is an outstanding book on the evolution of Earth and its biota. Knoll is one of the pioneers in the field of geobiology and his up-to-date scientific account of the field makes this an excellent reference and an entertaining read. Knoll exposes the controversies and examines the evidence that surrounding them. Most narratives don’t make good reference books but Knoll’s is an exception. If you are trying to choose between “histories of life on Earth”, pick this one.

*Larson, Edward J. 2004. Evolution: The Remarkable History of a Scientific Theory. Modern Library: NY

This book sketches the development of evolutionary theory. It’s primarily written for general audiences and so loses some of the detail required for students and instructors.

*Margulis, Lynn, and Dorion Sagan. 1986. Microcosmos: Four Billion Years of Microbial Evolution. Simon and Schuster: NY.

A provocative hypothesis about the interdependency of higher organisms and bacteria.

*Margulis, Lynn. 1998. The Symbiotic Planet: A New Look at Evolution. Weidenfeld & Nicolson: UK

Margulis is not one to shy away from controversy. Her endosymbiotic hypothesis was met with great skepticism originally but is now widely accepted. In this book, she applies her principles of symbiosis to the full range of life and its communities, including Earth.

*Margulis, Lynn, and Michael F. Dolan. 2002. Early Life: Evolution of the PreCambrian Earth, 2nd Edition. Jones and Bartlett: MA

*Mayr, Ernst. 1982. The Growth of Biological Thought: Diversity, Evolution, and Inheritance. Belknap Press of Harvard University Press: MA

Professor Sean thinks this is one of the most important books ever written. It defends the place of biology in science and retells the history of evolutionary thinking from pre- to neo-Darwinism. At more than 900 pages, it’s an intimidating volume, but Mayr’s prose and his way of explaining concepts makes this book a delight to read. You will only want to read several pages of it at a time as Mayr provokes deep reverie with every page. But you will have a more comprehensive and deeper understanding of evolution upon reading this book than is possible with just about any other book.

*Mayr, Ernst. 2001. What Evolution Is. Basic Books: NY

Any book by Ernst Mayr is worth reading, according to Professor Sean. This book provides a solid foundation for different aspects of evolution and evolutionary processes.

*Weiner, Jonathan. 1994. The Beak of the Finch. Vintage Books: NY

This Pulitzer Prize-winning book has become a textbook for learning about evolution.

*Zimmer, Carl. 1998. At the Water’s Edge: Fish With Fingers, Whales With Legs, and How Life Came Ashore but Then Went Back to Sea. Simon and Schuster: NY

An excellent narrative on macroevolution.

*Zimmer, Carl. 2001. Evolution: The Triumph of an Idea. HarperCollins: NY

This is the companion book to the Evolution video series by PBS.

*Moorehead, Alan. 1969. Darwin and the Beagle. Harper & Row: NY

This “old” book is notable for its abundant photos, illustrations and drawings, many of which are full page and stunning, and for its highly readable and intimate account of Charles Darwin’s voyage aboard HMS Beagle. It’s not as dense with information as other books on Darwin but it captures the spirit of his curiosity and scientific reasoning.

Reference for: Chapter 12, The Foundations of Evolutionary Theory

The Endless Voyage: Building Blocks, Water World and Survivors (written by W. S. Chamberlin) (Episodes 18, 19 and 21). 2002 (VHS and DVD). Intelecom.

Professor Sean appeared in several of the episodes of this series and helped develop learning activities to support it. While some episodes are better than others, The Endless Voyage provides one of the most complete and up-to-date series on oceanography available

: : Encyclopedia of the Sea : :
Chapter Two Image

How Baleen Whales Feed by Sean Chamberlin

The baleen whales generally feed in three different ways that affect the type of prey they consume. Some baleen whales, like the right and bowhead whales, feed by skimming at or near the surface. Swimming slowly with their mouths open, their dense baleen plates—up to 350 in a right whale—strain the water for krill, macrozooplankton (copepods) and fishes too small to avoid capture. The whale expels the captured water and licks the concentrated prey off their baleen using their tongue.

Rorquals employ a feeding style called gulping. This feeding method involves the containment of huge quantities of water—up to 70 tons in the blue whale—that is subsequently strained through their baleen. By expanding their throat grooves, the rorquals can inflate their mouths to four times their normal circumference. The engulfed water is pressed against the roof of their mouths with their tongue and squeezed between the baleen as their throat pouch contracts. The captured food is removed with their tongue. The jaws and tongues of rorquals exhibit specialized muscles and processes for engulfment feeding (see Lambertson et al., 1995). A number of unique behaviors are associated with engulfment feeding. Fin whales (Balaenoptera physalus) use vibrations of their jaw to produce sound to startle and concentrate their food. Humpback whales (Megaptera novaeanglia) work in concert with one another to catch herring use a style of feeding called bubble-netting or bubble-cloud feeding. In bubble netting, most often observed in North Pacific populations (Clapham, WhaleNet web site archive, 2000) one individual of the group circles and creates a net of bubbles while the other humpbacks circle and corral the herring. When the herring are concentrated at the surface, the whales lunge through the school and consume their prey. In bubble-cloud feeding, more typical of North Atlantic populations, a burst of bubbles is used to concentrate the herring. Studies have shown that herring avoid bubbles and so would be susceptible to bubble nets or clouds (Sharp and Dill 1997). Nonetheless, crittercam studies, using cameras attached to the whales, reveal that a significant number of herring can escape the bubble net so their feeding is not 100% efficient (National Geographic Crittercam 2004). A number of other cetaceans use bubble net or clouds but few with the degree of sophistication observed in the humpbacks

A variation on bubble-cloud feeding involves a slap of the tail following the initiation of the bubble cloud. This form of feeding, called tail slap or lobtail feeding, was apparently adopted by juvenile humpbacks in response to a shift in prey availability from herring to the smaller herring-like sand lance, who spend part of their time in sand. Prior to 1982, only 12.5% of individuals at Stellwagen Bank (at the mouth of Massachusetts Bay) exhibited lobtail feeding while after 1982 more than 50% of humpbacks were engaged in the behavior. These scientists suggested that adoption of this mode of feeding occurred through cultural transmission, a form of learning among whales (Weinrich et al., 1992) though that interpretation has been disputed (Galef 2001). From 1991-1195, declines in sand lance abundance led to observations of yet another type of feeding behavior, called jaw scuffing or prey flushing. Humpback whales were observed to scrape their jaw on the sandy bottom apparently to startle sand lance and flush them out of hiding (Hain et al., 1995; Stellwagen Bank NMS web site).

Another bottom feeding behavior—the third major type of feeding attributed to baleen whales—is mud scooping. To date, this behavior has been observed only in gray whales (Eschrichtius robustus), the lone member of a family of whales with shorter and less numerous baleen plates (~130-180 per individual) and less prominent throat grooves. The gray whale is well-known along the U.S. west coast for its 10-14,000-mile annual migration from the Bering and Chukchi Seas to Baja California (ACS Online). At the northern end of its distribution during summer months, the gray whale feeds by scooping large mouthfuls of mud from the sea bottom and filtering out benthic amphipods, decapods and other soft-bottom invertebrates. Apparently, the gray whale will make two passes at the sea bottom, the first to suspend the top layer of sediment and the second to filter the resultant suspension. In this way, the whale avoids ingestion of the heavier sediments (e.g. Russell 2001). Gray whales have been observed by scuba divers to vacuum sediments from one side of their mouth while expelling water from the other to strain food. Feeding in the frigid Arctic waters led scientists to wonder about heat loss through the mouths and tongues of baleen whales. Dissections on gray whale carcasses by John Heyning and colleagues at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles revealed a counter-current exchange system in the tongue of these animals. Because presence of a structure does not ne3cessarily prove its function, these scientists were unable to test their hypothesis further. However, the rescue of the orphan gray whale JJ by the museum staff and housing of the animal at SeaWorld in January 1997 afforded an opportunity to take tongue temperature measurements of a gray whale while feeding. Their studies confirmed that the gray whale tongue loses little heat to the surrounding water during feeding, confirming the role of countercurrent heat exchangers (NHM web site: http://www.nhm.org/research/mammals/jj/index.html).

The foraging activities of gray whales results in a series of shallow feeding pits—up to several feet in diameter—that mark the trail of a feeding gray whale. The overturning of bottom sediments and disturbance of these habitats has a significant impact on benthic community structure in habitats where gray whales feed. Scavenging amphipods increased in abundance 20-30 fold over undisturbed sediments, accumulations of organic debris were greater and opportunistic species were favored. (Oliver and Slattery 1985). Disturbance is likely an important factor in the maintenance of diversity in a variety of benthic habitats (e.g. Dernie et al., 2003). Gray whale feeding has also been hypothesized to have an effect on nutrient recycling. From 9 to 27% of the sea bottom may be processed by gray whales in the northern Bering Sea the result of which may be enhanced decomposition of organic material and regeneration of nutrients (Encyclopedia Marine Mammals 2002).

The feeding behavior of baleen whales and their effects on krill populations in the Southern Ocean have become a topic of considerable discussion. A study by Laws in 1985 suggested that the reduction in baleen whales caused by whaling (estimated at 90% of the original population) led to shifts in the structure of Antarctic food webs by reducing grazing pressure on krill and thereby favoring other krill predators. In a similar vein, the return of baleen whales in modern times has been postulated as the cause of declines in krill abundance, a conclusion used to support a resumption in whaling. As we learned in an earlier chapter, krill populations are subject to a number of ecological factors, including climate-induced variations in sea ice, aggregation behavior and others. Thus, the actual abundance of krill, the role of baleen whales in Antarctic ecosystems and any potential competition with fisheries remain highly uncertain. The interactions between whales and humans continues to be a controversial social and political issue. Inquiring minds are urged to apply scientific understanding wherever possible before accepting facts presented on either side of the debate (see Young 2000).