Natural selection can preserve invations, but it cant create them. Nature s many invations some uncannily perfect call for natural principles that accelerate life s ability to invate. Darwin s theory of natural selection explains how useful adaptations are preserved over time. But the biggest mystery about evolution eluded him. As genetics pioneer Hugo de Vries put it, natural selection may explain the survival of the fittest, but it cant explain the arrival of the fittest. Can random mutations over a mere 3.8 billion years really be responsible for wings, eyeballs, knees, camouflage, lactose digestion, photosynthesis, and the rest of nature s creative marvels? And if the answer is , what is the mechanism that explains evolution s speed and efficiency? In Arrival of the Fittest, rewned evolutionary biologist Andreas Wagner draws on over fifteen years of research to present the missing piece in Darwin's theory. Using experimental and computational techlogies that were heretofore unimagined, he has found that adaptations are t just driven by chance, but by a set of laws that allow nature to discover new molecules and mechanisms in a fraction of the time that random variation would take. Consider the Arctic cod, a fish that lives and thrives within six degrees ofthe North Pole, in waters that regularly fall below 0 degrees. At that temperature, the internal fluids of most organisms turn into ice crystals. And yet, the arctic cod survives by producing proteins that lower the freezing temperature of its body fluids, much like antifreeze does for a car s engine coolant. The invention of those proteins is an archetypal example of nature s ermous powers of creativity. Meticulously researched, carefully argued, evocatively written, and full of fascinating examples from the animal kingdom, Arrival of the Fittest offers up the final puzzle piece in the mystery of life s rich diversity.
Andreas Wagner is a professorin the Institute of Evolutionary Biologyand Environmental Studies at theUniversity of Zurich in Switzerland, and an external professor at the Santa FeInstitute. He lectures worldwide and isa fellow of the American Associationfor the Advancement of Science. Helives in Zurich, Switzerland.
Professor Andreas Wagner
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Unsewn / adhesive bound,Paper over boards,With dust jacket