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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

Cetacean Travel and Migration by Sean Chamberlin

Given the transient nature of oceanographic conditions and food supply, the superb swimming capability of cetaceans comes as no surprise. However, these animals undergo some of the longest migrations on our planet for reasons that are not altogether clear. Like so many of the behaviors we have discussed, the advantages of migration remain a mystery.

A number of confusing definitions of migration appear in the literature. We adopt the definitions of Stern (2002—see his illustration; see also Wells et al., 1999 in Reynolds and Rommel) as they give the greatest clarity to the various behaviors that involve travel over short, intermediate and long distances during an annual cycle. On a short-term basis (hours to days), cetaceans may travel along or between locations where food can be found. Coastal bottlenose dolphins can often be seen traveling and foraging just beyond the surf break, the place where most visitors to the beach experience their first view of wild dolphins. If food resources are patchy and separated in space and/or time, cetaceans may commute between food patches, much in the same way that humans commute between home and work. Within a given season, cetaceans may range between regions, such as during the south-to-north spring-to-summer transition associated with plankton blooms in northern hemisphere temperate waters, or similar circumstances where food resources shift their geographic position over time. Long-distance, uninterrupted movement between two locations on an annual basis is termed migration. The entire region over which a cetacean occurs—from its foraging patches to the endpoints of its migration—is called its home range. Migration is almost always associated with movements to and from feeding and breeding grounds. The migration of gray whales along the western United States from the Bering Sea to Baja California and the migration of northern right whales along the eastern United States from Nova Scotia to Florida and Georgia are well-known examples. Nearly all cetaceans that migrate are baleen whales, except bowhead whales, cousins to the right whales, who remain in Arctic waters during all seasons. One toothed whale, bachelor male sperm whales, migrates from equatorial waters where they breed to high latitudes where food is seasonally more plentiful. Most other odontocete movements—even the long-distance movements of dolphins and killer whales—have been classified as ranging behaviors, as they appear to occur in relation to movements of preferred prey and/or oceanographic conditions. Ranging in toothed whales might be considered as another in the spectrum of behaviors they exhibit in their daily lives.

In contrast, migratory movements generally involve more restricted behaviors aimed towards arriving at the final destination. Just as you and your family in transit on vacation (whether by automobile, RV, train, plane or ship) may forego many of the activities that you otherwise might enjoy (such as watching live TV, listening to your radio station, visiting friends or playing sports), baleen whales focus their activities on movement and avoidance of risks. For the most part, these animals fast during their migration and on their breeding grounds, although limited feeding has been observed in gray whales. The timing and rate of migration varies with age, size and sex classes and changes from year to year. Once at the breeding grounds, mothers typically give birth (although along-route births may occur), care for their young, court and mate, all while fasting. When their calves are sufficiently developed, usually within a few months, the animals return to their feeding grounds. The calves may continue to nurse from their mothers during this time. It is also during this time that the calves most likely learn the migratory route.

The advantages of feeding at high latitudes make sense in terms of the enormous seasonal productivity of these waters. However, the advantages of breeding and birthing in tropical waters are not as apparent. Several hypotheses to explain migration (see Stern 2002; Clapham 2000; Reynolds and Rommel, 1999) have been offered:

  1. warm water temperatures reduce thermal stress on neonates, accelerates their development and improves their chances of survival
  2. predation by killer whales on calves is minimized, as killer whales are rare in tropical climes
  3. migration makes sense energetically to take advantage of highly seasonal food availability and to mitigate the high metabolic costs of remaining in cold waters
  4. migration represents an ancestral trait that emerged during the Pleistocene when the ice edge and equator were much closer during the Ice Age

While all of these hypotheses (and perhaps others) have their supporters, the greatest potential for rejecting at least two of them holds with a better understanding of the energetics of cetacean ecology. With a more quantitative estimation of the energy sources (i.e. food quality and quantity) and sinks (thermal balance, reproductive costs, energy storage, etc.) for cetaceans, a more accurate assessment of the advantages/disadvantages of cold latitudes versus warm latitudes can be formed.

The question of how cetaceans migrate—how they navigate precise routes from year to year—is equally shrouded in mystery. In some cases, such as gray whales, it may simply be a matter of following the coastline. In humpback whales, who from feeding grounds at high latitudes in both hemispheres to breeding grounds in tropical or subtropical waters in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, there is some evidence that magnetic cues play a role in their migration. Satellite tracking of humpbacks from Kauai, Hawaii, to the Gulf of Alaska, revealed deviations from magnetic north within 1 degree, an exceptionally straight route across the open ocean. Measured speeds indicated that the whales traveled at speeds approaching 2.5–3.8 miles per hour over a 24-hour period. Although these scientists were not able to track the animals through their complete journey, extrapolation of speed and accuracy indicate that they could complete the journey in around 39 days; the fastest speeds gave completion times of 28 days (Mate et al., 1998). Geomagnetic orientation has also been suggested for fin whales possibly by following magnetic gradients on the sea floor (Walker et al., 1992). Models that incorporate the constraints of magnetite-based receptor cells for detecting the Earth’s magnetic field indicate that navigation should be possible. Using these models, scientists can formulate predictions concerning the routes of migratory animals and compare them to field observations to support or negate hypotheses based on magnetic navigation.