THE ANCESTOR'S TALE. A PILGRIMAGE TO. THE DAWN OF LIFE. RICHARD DAWKINS with additional research by YAN WONG. WEIDENFELD & NICOLSON . Ian Giddy/The Ancestor's Tale. 1. 2. Ian H Giddy. An exploration of our ancestors the past billion years .. Richard Dawkins, The Ancestor's Tale. The renowned biologist and thinker Richard Dawkins presents his most expansive work yet: a comprehensive look at evolution, ranging from the latest.

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Richard Dawkins's The ancestor's tale: a pilgrimage to the dawn of evolution is an extraordinary work that meets all of those challenges and many others. The renowned biologist and thinker Richard Dawkins presents his most The Ancestor's Tale is at once a far-reaching survey of the latest, best thinking on. Join for free. Download full-text PDF position until (Richard Dawkins Foundation . “The Ancestor's Tale: A pilgrimage to the Dawn.

The lesson, of course, is the non-specialness of humans in the grand scheme of life. This, in fact, is a major reason for the backwards chronology of the book.

Richard Dawkins - The Ancestor's Tale

But he believes equally strongly that humankind as a species needs to be put into evolutionary perspective, humbled from some idea of specialness. In one of his favourite examples, Dawkins points to various species of birds and salamanders, where species A can breed with species B and species B with species C, but where A cannot interbreed with C pp.

Yet as Michael Behe acerbically commented, what would the elephants be contemplating this question with—their noses? So Dawkins remains in tension between his progressive ideals on the one hand, and his denial of human specialness. On the one hand, the countless distinctions between humans and animals 12 have to be brushed over, or better still, buried under as many examples of similarity as we can find.

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On the other hand, Dawkins cannot bear to abandon the notion of biological progress, with all its religious overtones. Michael Ruse, no creationist, has brought the religious aspects to light admirably. Progress is comfortable, hopeful and future-oriented; it fills the need for an evolutionary eschatology.

Such are the conundrums of a religious evolutionist. Trapped in metaphor A prominent attorney and law school dean once commented that his trial successes were due in part to the proper use of metaphor and analogy. To some extent I think this applies to Dawkins. Dawkins covers an encyclopedic range of zoological subjects. For him, everything makes sense in light of evolution. He appears genuinely oblivious to the anomalies in the theory.

Very often, he probably is. Evolution is a metaphor that shapes the way he thinks. Convergent evolution is the classic example. When two animals going separate evolutionary ways independently evolve the same feature, what this really means is that the extraordinarily improbable 14 happened twice.

This really ought to be considered an anomaly for those who accept evolutionary common descent. Old World and New World monkeys evolved trichromatic vision independently of each other and still more odd, independently of their reptilian ancestors p.

Jet propulsion has evolved twice independently p. The eye evolved 40 to 60 times p. Dawkins actually uses them as indicators of what is likely to evolve—suggesting that if the tape of life were replayed, echolocation would probably evolve again, since four animals independently evolved it p.

To one who is not already a believer, the audacity is breathtaking. They also acquired a bigger brain and lost body hair. Darwin theorized that ancestor males choose females and they preferred hairless females.

The other sex was "dragged in its wake" and through reproduction with the females, the man became less hairy too. Sometimes sexual selection can prefer monomorphism favor 1 allele , and maybe for human's body hair, the female's allele was favored.

The Ancestor's Tale: A Pilgrimage to the Dawn of Evolution

Sexual selection is apt to drive evolution to take off in arbitrary directions and push things to non-utilitarian excess. Sexual selection is the dominant force in the recent evolution of our species. The Dodo 's Tale It is hard for land animals to reach an island but it's easier if they have wings.

Dodo birds Didus ineptus had wings and their ancestor were pigeons. After they arrived at the island called Mauritius , they figure they no longer need them because of the lack of predator and become tame so their wing muscles degenerated, but then they become the victim when other species do arrive.

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In the dodo's case, it was the sailors. Dodo means stupid in Portuguese. The Portuguese named them this because, by the time the sailors came, the dodo was tamed couldn't fly and stupid enough to trust the sailors because their ancestors didn't encounter any predator since thousand of years. Their trust and disability to fly ended up causing their extinction in less than 2 centuries. Their extinction was caused by killing and the introduction of dogs, pigs, and rats who ate their eggs and religious refugees who destroyed dodo's habitat for building sugar canes.

Many species of birds have evolved flightless forms on islands. The Elephant Bird 's Tale demonstrates how enigmatic distributions of genetically close species on completely separate continents can be explained and corroborated by evidences of continental drift and seafloor spreading.

The tale recounts the diaspora of a large group of flightless birds from the then unbroken Gondwana ; moa ended up in New Zealand, rhea in South America, emu in Australia, cassowary in New Guinea , kiwi in New Zealand by island hopping , and ostrich in Africa by way of Asia and Europe.

Radiometric dating and magnetic striping studies on continuously formed crust around rifts such as the Mid-Atlantic Ridge allow paleobiogeographers to piece back a coherent story of these birds' dispersion based on both phylogenetic tree and plate tectonics. Amphibians include frogs, toads , salamanders , newts and caecilians.

While amniotes either give live births or lay waterproof eggs, the amphibians retain the ancestral practice of laying eggs in water. Unlike the waterproof skin of amniotes, the amphibian skin allows body water to evaporate through it, restricting amphibians to land areas with access to fresh water.

The Salamander 's Tale uses examples of ring species to illustrate how a continuous series of interbreeding animals in the spatial dimension is conceptually equivalent to that in the time dimension.

The Ensatina salamanders in the Central Valley in California form a continuous ring actually a horseshoe shape around the valley. Any two neighbouring population of Ensatina around the horseshoe can interbreed , but the plain Ensatina eschscholtzii on the western end of the horseshoe cannot interbreed with the large blotched Ensatina klauberi on the eastern end.

Larus gulls form another ring species which starts at herring gull in Great Britain and ends at lesser black-backed gull in north-western Europe. Dawkins likens both ring species in space to the ring in time that unites humans and chimpanzees via generations of ancestors over 6 million years, with concestor 1 in the midpoint. The Narrowmouth's Tale shows how speciation may still continue via parapatric speciation , when two closely related toad species meet again after initial geographical isolation.

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Gastrophryne olivacea Great Plains narrowmouth toad and Gastrophryne carolinensis eastern narrowmouth toad are closely related and can interbreed when their habitats overlap. But reinforcement, a selection process which increases reproductive isolation via character displacement , causes both species to differentiate their mating calls from each other by shifting pitch and duration in opposite directions; the more the two populations overlap, the more distinct their mating calls become.

The Axolotl 's Tale is about metamorphosis , a biological process which turns juveniles or larvae into drastically dissimilar adult forms for reproduction , and about pedomorphosis , another process which enables juveniles of some species to become sexually mature without ever developing into their usual adult forms.

Species which undergo metamorphosis include butterflies , barnacles and salamanders. Species which exhibit neoteny , a type of pedomorphosis, include human, ostrich , pekingese and axolotl. A text book example of neoteny, the axolotls are members of the tiger salamander complex, yet they become sexually mature in larva form, remaining aquatic and gilled.

With a treatment of thyroxine , it is possible to induce an axolotl to develop into a salamander, demonstrating that axolotl genome still retains information on its lost adult form.

On the other hand, the newt , a type of salamander, first develops from tadpole into land-based salamander, but later reverts to its juvenile tadpole form, and returns to the water to reproduce.The great divide between protostomes meaning 'mouth first' and deuterostomes meaning 'mouth second' was devised by comparative embryologists based on the way animal embryos diverge after gastrulation where the blastula a hollow ball of cells indents to form a cup.

Some of them fly , others swim , and yet many of them gallop. In this case, we also learn about the upside-down catfish, and Dawkins walks us through the probable scenario of how evolution could lead to such a major switch in lifestyle. With a treatment of thyroxine , it is possible to induce an axolotl to develop into a salamander, demonstrating that axolotl genome still retains information on its lost adult form.

Their trust and disability to fly ended up causing their extinction in less than 2 centuries. This group of animals belong to the Laurasiatheria clade as all of them originated from the supercontinent of Laurasia.

Vertebrates may have branched off from ancient sea squirt larvae via neoteny , in a process reminiscent of The Axolotl's Tale. The cell offered protection to the bacteria, and the bacteria provided energy to the cell, resulting in a mutualistic symbiotic relationship. Dawkins explains that concestor 21 is ancestor to all gnathostomes , animals with lower jaws, a structure which evolved from the gill arches.

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