At the Water's Edge
Reviewed by: Henry E. Neufeld
Zimmer, Carl. At the Water's Edge: Macroevolution and the
Transformation of Life. New York: The Free Press, 1998.
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This little book (290 pages) provides some excellent
information on macroevolution and the current state of the
science related to it. Zimmer, a senior editor at Discover
discusses two transitions: The move of tetrapod ancestors from
the ocean to the land, and the move of mammals back into the
water, in the form of whales and related species.
This book is primarily about how such changes happen, what
drives them, and the state of the evidence in terms of
intermediate species. Zimmer also deals with molecular biology
and its contribution to the discussion. No attempt is made to
paper over any weak areas--all is laid out in its current state
The book is totally comprehensible to the lay reader. I
personally dislike the journalistic style with many intermissions
talking about the author interviewing various scientists. Those
kinds of things feel like interruptions to me. For many readers,
however, I think this view of the scientists personally may well
be of interest.
All in all, I think I would recommend reading this book to
anyone interested in the topic. I don't know of any other at the
same level which covers this same material.
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