Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Discovery Magazine presents Evolution

Last Friday, I missed my overground train by one minute (yes, trains are on time in London). I had to wait 20 minutes and so I spent my time at the WHSmith store in the station. I was browsing various magazines, when I was attracted to this one: “Discover Magazine presents Evolution

I remembered that I had read positive feedback about this, in Panda's thumb blog

Here is the table of contents (which cannot be found on the web site of Discovery magazine). It is roughly organised into three parts:

The slime years (4 billion to 2 billion years ago)
  • A cold start: about a late experiment of Stanley Miller and the hypothesis that life emerged in a cold environment. It also reminds me of a paper from the lab of Manolo Gouy: Bousseau et al. (Natue 2008) Parallel adaptations to high temperatures in the Archaean eon. 
  • Did life start with a virus: about the mimivirus and a putative (or not) 4th domain of life. A recent paper was published in PloS One that contradicts this theory.
  • When evolution slept (1.8 – 1 billion years ago): also called the boring billion.
  • The living fossils: coelacanths and friends.

Monsters and men (110 million to 8,000 years ago)
  • Before the womb: about the evolution of marsupials.
  • Drawn to life: about the drawings from Ernst Haeckel.
  • Dispatch from outer Mongolia: searching for dinosaur bones.
  • Digging into ancient DNA: about using old DNA from mammoths and others.
  • How we won the hominid wars: about us.
  • When cows changed our genes: how our ancestors could not digest milk, and the evolution that happened to do so.

Evolving into the future (today and tomorrow)
  • When Darwin was wrong: about the geology of Glen Roy's valley  in the Scottish Highlands.
  • Where Darwin would go today: discussion about six hotspots where evolution is clear to see.
  • Where the weird things are: about strange animals, like my favourite one: the blobfish (see below).
  • The rise of the killer mutants: about the arms race between bacteria and antibiotics.
  • How we will control evolution: about bioengineering and the manipulation of the human species.
As said in Panda's Thumb blog, it's clearly worth the price!
It is always useful to take a step aside from our specialised subjects and read more general science.


PS: The blobfish
Blobfish: world's most 'miserable looking' marine animal facing exinction
The Blobfish can grow up to 12 inches at depths of up to 800m off the coast of South East Australia. Photo: CATERS

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