Books : reviews

Anthony Martin, John Hawks.
Major Transitions in Evolution.
Great Courses. 2010

rating : 3.5 : worth reading
review : 26 August 2023

This is the very slim course guidebook that accompanies the 24 lecture “Great Course” of the same name. It is essentially a very abbreviated transcript of each 30 minute lecture, a few pictures, some suggested reading, and a few questions to think about. (I watched the lectures, which is what I am reviewing here, and am using the book simply as an aide-memoire.)

This is a great overview of evolution from single celled creatures to Homo sapiens. The focus is on the palaeontology more than the evolution, however. So although the lectures are fascinating in their own right, they don’t really address “major transitions” as the core topic, more as a mention every now and again. So I was left a little disappointed. The closest to the topic on the tin was probably the discussion of the co-evolution of insects and flowers.

However, I did learn quite a bit of palaeontology, including a couple of surprising (to me) little snippets: