of books by Marlene Zuk

MARLENE ZUK (1956) is professor of evolution at the University of Minnesota.

by Marlene Zuk
W. W. Norton & Company, 2013
What a great book about evolution.

That natural selection does not produce perfect organisms, that is to say, organisms perfectly adapted to their environment is the central thesis about the paleofantasy that is currently so fashionable; the idea that our gatherer-hunter ancestor were perfectly adapted to nature and that our modern technological lifestyle including processes food is harming our bodies.

Zuk explains in a nice narrative style avoiding technical language how all selection is a trade off and as long as any change allows for offspring, any change in our genes is good enough for evolution. To go a step further, perfect adaptation is not possible because any adaptation for one trait comes at a trade off for another. Evolution is compromise. But evolution is also faster and more flexible than expected are let us say 'assumed'. I call this book a great book about evolution because it gives the open minded reader a modern look at the theory of evolution, where the 'survival of the fittest' and by implication in the popular mind 'the strongest' is nowhere close an adequate portrait of evolution.



May 18, 2013 /  © 2013 Lukas K. Buehler / go back to Book Review Home