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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

What is a Cephalopod? by Sean Chamberlin

The nektonic cephalapods include the squids, cuttlefish, chambered nautilus and a few pelagic octopuses. In many ways, the cephalopods are among the most highly adapted non-vertebrate animals in the ocean. Some scientists maintain that “cephalopods functionally are fish” (Packard 1972). They share relatively little in common with the mollusk relatives, other than the obligatory mantle and radula; many have even lost the shell. At least 700 species of cephalopods roam the ocean from the deepest depths to the shallowest tide pools. They range in size from the pygmy squid (Idiosepius), at a few inches, to the giant squid, whose mantle is on the order of several feet but whose measurement from fin to tentacle reaches upwards of 55 feet (a specimen measured in New Zealand in 1887). The cephalopods include one of the most poisonous animals on earth, the blue-ringed octopus (Hapalochlaena) and one of the strangest, a squid without tentacles that evokes visions of Count Dracula, otherwise known as the vampire squid (Vampyroteuthis). Throw in the odd-but-iconic nautilus and the puppy-like cuttlefish and you have a motley group of animals indeed.

The evolutionary lineage of cephalopods dates back to the late Cambrian. They are thought to have evolved from a limpet-like ancestor whose body became elongated along the dorsal-ventral axis. A squid standing on its tentacles has much the same body arrangement as a limpet. Extinct species, numbering to 10,000, include the ammonites, at diameters approaching ten feet, and the endocerids, at more than 30 feet long. Though none are living, both are highly prized for their fossils. The Devonian gave rise to the nautiloids, including the genus Nautilus, representing one of the two major groups of cephalopods still living today. The other group, the coleoids, arose in the Mesozoic and includes three groups, the cuttlefishes (sepeoids), the squids (teuthoids) and the octopus (octopods). Squids and cuttlefishes are sometimes called decapods, for their ten appendages—eight arms and two specialized tentacles—as opposed to the octopods, which have eight arms.

One word appears to describe the driving force behind the evolution of cephalopods: predation. Throughout the Mesozoic, fishes and reptiles competed with and preyed upon cephalopods, much as they do today (except that the plesiosaurs are now extinct). Predation on cephalopods in the modern ocean might be described as Terminator-like: to a squid, the predators just keep coming back. As a result, cephalopods have evolved some of the most sophisticated morphologies and behaviors of any animal. Their body is an arsenal of sensors, weapons, disguises and propulsion systems designed to avoid being eaten. They also live life on the fly: they grow very rapidly, store very little food as energy reserves and have very short life spans, less than a year in many species. Their bodies, behaviors and life history have evolved to react and adapt very quickly.

Cephalopods, especially squid, occupy a central role in marine food webs as a food source for many fishes and marine mammals. They likely supply a major food-fall source to benthic invertebrates because, like salmon, many species of squid die after mating, a phenomenon known as mass mortality. Marine birds and various shore predators, like raccoons, may take advantage of squid mating-deaths when they occur. Squid provide food for humans in many parts of the world. The now-banned driftnet fisheries—a highly destructive and indiscriminate method of fishing that employs drifting nets tens of miles in length—arose as a means to harvest squid. New techniques for fishing squid have their own set of problems, namely the inadvertent capture and death of sea lions (Source: European Cetacean Bycatch Campaign). Ironically, the two most widely cited human impacts on the ocean—global warming and overfishing—appear to benefit the squid. Warmer temperatures accelerate the metabolism of many squids and extend their range, while overfishing has reduced predation on squids. The result is that squid populations worldwide appear to be on the increase (Bildstein, Australasian Science, 2002).

Cephalopods provide an excellent model for understanding the adaptations of organisms to the marine environment, a topic typically reserved for a course in marine biology. Nonetheless, to the extent that these animals provide a major fisheries to the world and to the extent that they may serve as an indicator of ecosystem health and patterns of global warming, a brief discussion of their remarkable traits warrants our attention here.