Ancestor's Tale: A Pilgrimage to the Dawn of Evolution, The

Richard Dawkins
With unparalleled wit, clarity, and intelligence, Richard Dawkins, one of the world's most renowned evolutionary biologists, has introduced countless readers to the wonders of science in works such as The Selfish Gene. Now, in The Ancestor's Tale, Dawkins offers a masterwork: an exhilarating reverse tour through evolution, from present-day humans back to the microbial beginnings of life four billion years ago. Throughout the journey Dawkins spins entertaining, insightful stories and sheds light on topics such as speciation, sexual selection, and extinction. The Ancestor's Tale is at once an essential education in evolutionary theory and a riveting read.


Reviewed: 2019-09-02
Richard Dawkins makes as much of a concession toward the notion of "evolution moving toward humanity" as he'll ever make in The Ancestor's Tale. While some argue that evolution has always been moving towards homo sapiens, Dawkins spends a chapter dispelling the myth, then concedes that looking at evolution as if that were true is still somewhat interesting.

The Ancestor's Tale is Dawkins doing something similar, in a way consistent with his science. He takes a pilgrimage back to the very first organisms, starting at human beings and working backwards, stopping at various points to examine our common ancestors with other organisms.

The book is interesting, though much less so than many of Dawkins's other books. Other books by Dawkins have made me view the natural world as majestic and amazing in a way that I never appreciated before reading his work. The Ancestor's Tale is a bit more factual, a bit more scientific than other books by Dawkins, and in a weird way lacks this property.

There were definitely some eye-opening moments, in particular Dawkins's rant about the curse of a brain that cannot see in gradual differences, but for the most part the book wasn't as enthralling as his other work.

I recommend it for fans of Dawkins, but I wouldn't start here.
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