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tbarryfigu's picture

Same Story, New Teller

When I first began to read What Evolution Is, I was surprised to find that Ernst Mayr was telling the exact same story I had just explored in Evolution 229, last semester. But then I noticed that his way of presenting Evolution differed greatly. He claimed to be professing "facts," things that could "challenge those who are still not yet convinced of the occurence of evolution" (page 12), while expressing his argument in a manner similar to that of a story teller. I did not feel like I was reading a text book of facts, trying to tatoo different statistics on my mind, but, instead, enjoyed his leisurely and informative progression through history.

This, of course, is probably why we are reading this book, though Mayr's constant argument in favor of evolutionary truths seem to counter our recent class discussion about science's ability to only "get it less wrong." Perhaps he intended to write in this manner so as to appeal to those that are not in college, frantically studying the dates of the mass extinctions, ect. In this way, Mayr seems to be both preaching science while dumbing it down to make it more interesting, and less like a lecture. While I agree with this approach, I find it difficult not to analyze it, as he tends to leave out some important facts that were stressed in Bio 229 (perhaps they will show themselves later in the book?) For example, Erasmus Darwin was the first to hint to the perpetual transformation  of all animals and their progression towards higher levels of organization. Mayr does touch on, but hardly gives enough credit to, the other "fathers of Evolution, " especially Wallace, who drafted a similar paper to The Origin and actually initiated Darwin's decision to publish. Before Wallace, it was sitting in a closet in Down House!

In any case, I found the first four chapters rather entertaining, and I look forward to Mayr's development of the story of evolution.

-Tamarinda Figueroa


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