In the spirit of all those inevitable year end countdowns that are found everywhere you turn at the end of December, I have put together a quick list of five books about evolution that were published in the year 2011. There were many books that were published this year, but these in this list happen to be at the forefront of the genre and excellent reading material for beginners all the way through experts on the subject of evolution.
1. The Neighborhood Project
Title: The Neighborhood Project: Using Evolution to Improve My City, One Block at a Time
Author: David Sloan Wilson
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Date Published: August 24, 2011
Length: 449 Pages
Can the ideas put forth in biological evolution be used to improve a city? This is what Professor David Sloan Wilson of the State University of New York at Binghamton set out to prove. After years of social research and analyzing data from his hometown of Binghamton, Dr. Wilson and his team of students in the Evolutionary Studies program compiled ways to improve their city based on Charles Darwin's "tangled bank" ideas.
An interesting mix of scientific anecdotes and social commentary, this book is a good read for anyone interested in the application of evolutionary lessons beyond speciation or the controversies of evolution.
2. The Evidence For Evolution
Title: The Evidence for Evolution
Author: Alan R. Rogers
Publisher: The University of Chicago Press Books
Date Published: June 2011
Length: 128 Pages
A short read full of excellent arguments and evidence that support the idea of evolution, this book can help anyone understand the science behind evolution. It very accessibly helps clear up common misconceptions of evolution. With the overwhelming evidence on his side, including looks at DNA and the fossil record, Rogers does his best to educate the general public that overwhelmingly does not believe in evolution.
The Evidence for Evolution ranges in topic from the easily believable microevolution, or changes within species, all the way up to the less accepted topic of macroevolution, or how species are related and evolved from common ancestors. Complete with illustrations and charts, this text is easy to follow and should help anyone clearly examine the available evidence.
3. Evolution's Witness
Title: Evolution's Witness: How Eyes Evolved
Author: Ivan R. Schwab MD, FACS
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Date Published: October 2011
Length: 328 Pages
One argument anti-evolution camps keep bringing up is how complex the human eye is and how it could not have possibly evolved by chance. This extremely thorough book, written by Ophthalmologist Dr. Ivan Schwab, examines the process of eye evolution beginning with trilobites at the end of the Precambrian Time Span all the way up through the human eye.
Perhaps the crowning achievement of such a comprehensive look through history is the over 400 pictures of the microscopic structure of various species' eyes. Although this book may be heavy with biological speak and beginners may struggle with some of the concepts, the visual evidence alone should be enough to convince any reader of how eyes are actually a perfect example of change through time and adaptations in order to fill a niche.
4. Blackwell Dictionary of Human Evolution
Title: Blackwell Dictionary of Human Evolution
Author: Bernard Wood
Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell (an imprint of John Wiley & Sons Ltd)
Date Published: December 10, 2011
Length: 608 Pages
The Blackwell Dictionary of Human Evolution is the most recently published on this list of evolution related books. It is described as a comprehensive look at the fossil record and promises to use no jargon that would confuse even the newest readers of the subject. This book includes over 1500 entries comprised of timelines, maps, and diagrams to help demystify the evidence for human evolution found in the fossil record.
5. The Changing Body
Title: The Changing Body: Health, Nutrition, and Human Development in the Western World since 1700
Author: Roderick Floud, Robert W. Fogel, Bernard Harris, and Sok Chul Hong
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Date Published: May 2, 2011
Length: 456 Pages
A collaboration of biologists, economists, and demographers, The Changing Body links the radical changes of human structure over the last 300 years to the rapid changes in the economy and industry among other things. Some questions the authors try to answer include how does health and mortality affect the economy and vice versa?
There is no doubt humans have changed and adapted rapidly since 1700 in the Western World. Innovations and technology have changed just as quickly. The link and coevolution between the two cannot be ignored. That link is clearly outlined in this book.