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📙 Before the Backbone: Views on the origin of the vertebrates by Henry Gee (auth.) — free pdf


We cannot catechise our stony ichthyolites, as did the necromantic lady of the Arabian Nights did the coloured fishes of the lake which had once been a city, when she touched their dead bodies with her wand, and they straightaway raised their heads and rephed to her queries. We would have many a question to ask them if we could - questions never to be solved. Hugh Miller, The Old Red Sandstone When I started this book in 1991, the subject of vertebrate origins was fusty and unfashionable. Early drafts for this preface read like an extend­ ed complaint at the lot of traditional morphologists, cast aside by the march of modern molecular biology. But no longer - this book should reach you at a time of renewed inter­ est in the origin of the vertebrates, our own particular corner of creation. For although the topic has excited interest for well over a century, molec­ ular biology has only lately achieved the maturity necessary to test its predictions. As a legitimate field of study, it is fashionable again.



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