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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

The Bivalves by Sean Chamberlin

It’s hard to imagine anyone who has not seen or at least heard of some kind of bivalve, the trademark, hinged, two-valve shell of clams, oysters, mussels, scallops, cockles, paddocks or quahogs. And while Tom Cruise didn’t repeat “show me the clams” in Jerry Maguire, he could have. Clams (representing all shelled animals, apparently) have become synonymous with money, owing to the widespread use of shells (mostly, not clams) by native Americans and other first peoples as currency for trade. Today, the products of bivalves, namely pearls, bring the big money. Pearl necklaces, some valued in the millions, have graced the couture of many a celebrity.

Of the more than 6700 species of marine bivalves, nearly all of them live attached to or burrowed within the bottom, hard or soft. A few, like the scallops, can swim for short periods of time. Others, like the rock-boring clams (aka paddocks), drill into hard substrates (hardened clays, shales and limestones) where they find protection. Most filter phytoplankton and other particles from seawater although some use their siphons to feed on surface deposits. Marine bivalves range in size from the tiny (~5mm) gem clam, Gemma, found along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts, to the giant (> 1 meter) clam, Tridanca, found in the South Pacific.

The body plan of bivalves is highly compressed but its mantle is well-developed, exhibiting a pair of lobes, called mantle skirts, that create a spacious mantle cavity. The mantle cavity encloses a pair of large gills which are used both for respiration and feeding. A pair of strong adductor muscles attach the body to the shell, the scars of which are readily visible on the interior of most bivalve shells. In most bivalves, the shells are similar but in some, like oysters, one valve is smaller than the other. Often found protruding between the valves are a pair of siphons—one incurrent and one excurrent—that draw in and expel water, respectively. The incurrent siphon may be modified for feeding, much like a vacuum cleaner, and may be prehensile, allowing it to crawl along the surface like an elephant trunk using sensory cells to find food. On some species, like the suggestive Pacific Northwest geoduck (pronounced “gooey-duck” from the Nisqually Indian “gwe-duk” which means “dig deep”), has a body and siphon so large that it cannot retract into its shell. The geoduck, reaching weights of more than seven pounds and living more than a hundred years, is the largest burrowing clam in the world.

[MARGIN] In the Pike Place Market in Seattle, Chamberlin overheard an elderly woman point to a geoduck and whisper to her husband, “It looks just like you.” [END MARGIN]

A prominent feature of most bivalves is their muscular foot, which they use to burrow into sediments. In a highly coordinated and sometimes very rapid sequence of maneuvers, the bivalve opens its shell and extends its foot into the mud. By contracting its foot above the base, an anchor is formed which allows the animal to pull itself down. At the same time, it expels water by partially closing its shell, which acts to reduce its profile and loosen sediments. By rocking its shell, the animal may also gain wiggle room and “dig” deeper into the substrate. Some bivalves, like the razor clam (found on both coasts), is especially quick at penetrating the sand on beaches where it occurs. Hungry clam diggers have invented clam guns—basically a metal pipe with a handle—to grab a plug of sand containing a clam and spill it onto the surface to grab the animal before it can escape. Other clams, like the geoduck, are noted for their deep digging ability, often burrowing a meter or more into the mud (which is why it needs such a large siphon). Burrowing enables bivalves to exploit habitats that are otherwise unavailable to aerobic animals. By pumping oxygenated seawater into their burrows, they create a kind of “snorkel” by which they may breathe at sediment depths where oxygen is not available.

Burrowing bivalves also alter the properties of the sediments. Burrowing and pumping allows for deeper penetration and diffusion of oxygen, a process called bioirrigation. Bioirrigation facilitates the breakdown of organic matter and influences sediment geochemistry. In addition, by digging out sediments and reworking them during feeding or other processes, they alter the size and distribution of sediments, a process called bioturbation. Burrowing animals contribute to variations in the depth to which oxygen penetrates in sediments, a zone known as the redox discontinuity layer (RDL). Their activities and burrows enhance the diffusion of oxygen into the sediments and strongly influence the depth of the RDL. The presence or absence of oxygen determines the way in which organic matter is processed (i.e. aerobically or anaerobically) and has an effect on whether that carbon is rapidly broken down, slowly decayed and/or buried (e.g., Kristensen, 2000). In addition, the RDL impacts a number of chemical reactions, especially iron and sulfur.

Another adaptation of bivalves is the evolution of glands in their foot that secrete one of the strongest glues on Earth (natural or manmade), byssal threads. A number of bivalves secrete strong, fibrous “guy wires” to attach to hard substrates or anchor their bodies in soft sediments. Representative examples include the ornate and iridescent pen shell, found commonly in muddy bottoms in Florida and elsewhere, and the mussel, found in rocky intertidal zones worldwide. In addition to the anchor they provide for the organism, the byssal threads of mussels provide a microhabitat (a small and specialized place to live) for a number of small invertebrates. In mid-intertidal zones dominated by populations of mussels—the popularly known mussel bed—the seemingly monospecific stand belies a richly diverse community of organisms. As many as 300 species have been found associated with mussel beds (e.g. Schmidt, 1999; Suchnaek, 1992). Similar associations have also been observed in hydrothermal mussel beds. Bysall threads have also caught the attention of researchers interested in biopolymers, natural materials that may provide clues for the manufacture of adhesives.

[MARGIN] Byssal threads were apparently woven into a fine fabric called “linen mist” by the Romans and may have been the fabric of Jason’s legendary golden fleece. Jules Verne adorned Captain Nemo and his captives in Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea with clothing constructed from byssal threads. [END MARGIN]

The evolution of gills and a circulatory system with a heart similarly provided adaptations well-suited to exploit benthic habitats. The development of a water circulation system that allowed water to enter and exit in the same direction meant that burrowing animals could direct their water processes towards the surface. This adaptation provided the means to exploit suspension feeding through modification of the gills to sort and capture food particles from other suspended matter. Some bivalves, however, like the giant clam, obtain most of their nutrition (up to 90% by some accounts) from the zooxanthellae that live in their mantle tissues. Like corals, these clams maintain an obligatory symbiosis with algae, without which, they die.

Reproduction in bivalves involves the external release of gametes from separate males and female. Spawning appears to be synchronized by changes in water temperature—seasonal or induced by processes like upwelling—although other causes are possible. Fertilized eggs produce a planktotrophic trochophore larva that transforms into a veliger. The veligers of oysters may travel more than 1000 kilometers and, like other mollusk larvae, have been shown to be capable of using dissolved organic matter as a food source to supplement their nutrition.