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Mutants: On Genetic Variety and the Human Bodyby Armand Marie Leroi
Synopses & Reviews
"Who are the mutants? We are all mutants. But some of us are more mutant than others."
Variety, even deformity, may seem like an unlikely route by which to approach normality, even perfection. Yet much of what we know about the mechanisms of human development, growth, and aging comes from the study of people who are afflicted with congenital diseases, most of which have genetic causes. Congenital abnormalities reveal not only errors within the womb, but also our evolutionary history.
In Mutants, Armand Marie Leroi gives a brilliant narrative account of our genetic grammar and the people whose bodies have revealed it, balancing both the science and the stories behind some of history's most captivating figures-including a French convent girl who found herself changing sex upon puberty; children who, echoing Homer's Cyclops, are born with a single eye in the middle of their foreheads; a village of long-lived Croatian dwarves; a hairy family who was kept at the Burmese royal court for four generations (and from whom Darwin took one of his keenest insights into heredity); and the ostrich-footed Wadoma of the Zambezi River Valley.
Stepping effortlessly from myth to molecular biology, this elegant, humane, and illuminating book is about us all.
A brilliant study of Aristotle as biologist
The philosophical classics of Aristotle loom large over the history of Western thought, but the subject he most loved was biology. He wrote vast volumes about animals. He described them, classified them, told us where and how they live and how they develop in the womb or in the egg. He founded a science. It can even be said
that he founded science itself.
In The Lagoon, acclaimed biologist Armand Marie Leroi recovers Aristotleand#8217;s science. He revisits Aristotleand#8217;s writings and the places where he worked. He goes to the eastern Aegean island of Lesbos to see the creatures that Aristotle saw, where he saw them. He explores Aristotleand#8217;s observations,
his deep ideas, his inspired guessesand#151;and the things he got wildly wrong. He shows how Aristotleand#8217;s science is deeply intertwined with his philosophical system and reveals that he was not only the first biologist, but also one of the greatest.
The Lagoon is both a travelogue and a study of the origins of science. And it shows how a philosopher who lived almost two millennia ago still has so much to teach us today.
Visit Armand Marie Leroi on the web: http://armandleroi.com/index.html
Stepping effortlessly from myth to cutting-edge science, Mutants gives a brilliant narrative account of our genetic code and the captivating people whose bodies have revealed itandmdash;a French convent girl who found herself changing sex at puberty; children who, echoing Homerandrsquo;s Cyclops, are born with a single eye in the middle of their foreheads; a village of long-lived Croatian dwarves; one family, whose bodies were entirely covered with hair, was kept at the Burmese royal court for four generations and gave Darwin one of his keenest insights into heredity. This elegant, humane, and engaging book andldquo;captures what we know of the development of what makes us humanandrdquo; (Nature).
About the Author
Armand Marie Leroi, in addition to many technical articles on evolutionary and developmental biology, has written for the London Review of Books and Times Literary Supplement. He was appointed Reader in Evolutionary Developmental Biology at Imperial College and, in 2001, was awarded the Scientist for the New Century medal by the Royal Institution of Great Britain. Mutants is his first book.
Table of Contents
List of Illustrations
I. Mutants (An introduction) 3
II. A Perfect Join (On embryos) 23
III. The Last Judgement (On first parts) 65
IV. Cleppies (On arms and legs) 105
V. Flesh of my Flesh, Bone of my Bone (On skeletons) 137
VI. The War with the Cranes (On growth) 169
VII. The Desire and Pursuit of the Whole (On gender) 217
VIII. A Fragile Bubble (On skin) 247
IX. The Sober Life (On ageing) 297
X. Anthropometamorphosis (An epilogue) 335
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Science and Mathematics » Biology » Genetics
Science and Mathematics » Nature Studies » Genetics