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Book Microcosmos: Four Billion Years of Microbial Evolution


Microcosmos: Four Billion Years of Microbial Evolution

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    Available in PDF - DJVU Format | Microcosmos: Four Billion Years of Microbial Evolution.pdf | Language: ENGLISH
    Dorion Sagan(Author)

    Book details


Microcosmos brings together the remarkable discoveries of microbiology of the past two decades and the pioneering research of Dr. Margulis to create a vivid new picture of the world that is crucial to our understanding of the future of the planet. Addressed to general readers, the book provides a beautifully written view of evolution as a process based on interdependency and thei nterconnectedness of all life on the planet.

"A stunning, complex chronicle. . . proposing that only an understanding of the microcosm from which life sprang can make possible our ultimate leap beyond Earth into a human-devised supercosm."--"Publishers Weekly

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Book details

  • PDF | 304 pages
  • Dorion Sagan(Author)
  • University of California Press; Reprint edition (29 May 1997)
  • English
  • 5
  • Science & Nature

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Review Text

  • By Guest on 21 January 2009

    Microcosmos: Four Billion Years of Microbial Evolution, to give it its proper title, is without doubt the single most important book that shaped me as a biologist. From such an unlikely subject matter too! Lynn Margulis, assisted by her son Dorion Sagan, weaves an absolutely spell binding story of evolution on our planet from the perspective of the main character- the industrious microbe. However, this is no work of orthodox cataloguing. Her thesis is an affront to modern deterministic molecular biology. As she is a distinguished geneticist herself, this has led her to undergo the familiar cycle of ridicule, ostricisation, challenge, then reluctant acceptance. Margulis turns Darwinian simplification on itself and explores the co-operative aspects of living systems on a cellular, through to planetary level, with some shocking and fascinating conclusions. Margulis is credited with originating the endosymbiont hypothesis, advocating the Five Kingdom system of taxonomic classification, and co developing the Gaia hypothesis with James Lovelock, author of Gaia: A New Look At Life On Earth. The Gaia hypothesis postulates that planet Earth can be considered a self regulating biocybernetic system a living thing in its own right, similar to the way multicellular organisms are comprised of archaeobacterial remnants. The book is also highly informative about other aspects of archaeobiology that you may not have even thought about, such as the origin of life, the oxygen holocaust, the evolution of sex and multicellular life, and a unique consideration of human evolution. Lynn Margulis obviously has a passion for biology and life which is unsurpassed- YOU SHOULD READ THIS BOOK !

  • By Stephen Frank on 30 September 2013

    If you're one of those who has felt worried that the earth might not survive what we're doing to it, then worry no longer! We, as a species which has brought 'wholesale ecological carnage' to the planet may not survive, but the earth surely will! What soon emerges from this insightful book is that humankind is a relatively young species, still 'vulnerable, error-prone.' Humans are not seen as the dominant species - the pinnacle of evolution - but as one of the still immature species. The real players are the species that have been here the longest, the bacteria. 'Even nuclear war would not be total apocalypse, since the hardy bacteria underlying life on the planetary scale would doubtless survive it.'Margulis and Sagan relegate Darwin to a secondary place within the order of things: the most powerful and important changes in evolution happen not through mutation - as Darwin would have it - but through symbiosis, '...the merging of organisms into new collectives, proves to be a major power of change on Earth.' In particular oxygen-breathing bacteria merged with other organisms to enable oxygen-based life on the once alien surface of this hydrogen filled planet. 'The symbiotic process goes on unceasingly.' 'Fully ten percent of our own dry body weight consists of bacteria - some of which.... we cannot live without.' That's an estimation of ten thousand billion bacteria each!Imagine a droplet of water with a membrane holding the water in place and allowing certain nutrients in. This is a simplified description of how it is imagined the first becteria came into being. The book offers a fascinating history of the evolution of life on our planet. This is a wonderful story full of fantastic developments spanning thousands of millions of years. Every now and then we are reminded by the authors that none of it could have taken place or could be happening now were it not for the metabolic abilities of bacteria. It gives a really eye-opening account of bacterial sex with the insight that all bacteria, all over the planet, are really part of one organism because they are all able to exchange genetic information. For instance it's thought that bacteria obtained their now well-known resistence to penicillen from their bacterial cousins in the soil. But also, you begin to get the impression that perhaps it's the bacteria which have used every means possible and are now using us too to spread onto the land and all over the planet and beyond from their original wet home in the ocean. Humans are defintely relegated to a secondary place within something much, much bigger that is (consciously?) evolving.This is a fascinating book which has radically changed the way I perceive life and the universe. I read it with great excitement and completed it with a new awe for those minute beings, the bacteria, which have, until now, had a very bad press.

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