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The Greatest Show on Earth

The Evidence for Evolution

By Richard Dawkins
16-minute read
Audio available
The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution by Richard Dawkins

The Greatest Show on Earth (2009) tackles the arguments made by the creationists who deny that evolution is a scientific fact, and shows their criticisms to be false.

Richard Dawkins provides the evidence that explains how the wide variety of life on Earth has developed through the process of evolution by natural selection, a process first discovered by Charles Darwin in 1859.

This is a Blinkist staff pick

“I love these blinks as they present the evidence for the evolution of life on Earth. By explaining phenomena like natural selection, gene mutation and convergent evolution, these blinks are a clear and memorable introduction to how the planet’s great spectrum of life developed.”

– Thomas, English Editorial Lead at Blinkist

  • Students of biology
  • Those who want to understand how life on Earth developed
  • Anyone who wants to counter the arguments made by creationists

Richard Dawkins is one of the world’s leading evolutionary biologists. He is the author of several best-selling books on biology, including The Selfish Gene and The Blind Watchmaker,and has written and presented various television series on scientific subjects.

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The Greatest Show on Earth

The Evidence for Evolution

By Richard Dawkins
  • Read in 16 minutes
  • Audio & text available
  • Contains 10 key ideas
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The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution by Richard Dawkins
Synopsis

The Greatest Show on Earth (2009) tackles the arguments made by the creationists who deny that evolution is a scientific fact, and shows their criticisms to be false.

Richard Dawkins provides the evidence that explains how the wide variety of life on Earth has developed through the process of evolution by natural selection, a process first discovered by Charles Darwin in 1859.

This is a Blinkist staff pick

“I love these blinks as they present the evidence for the evolution of life on Earth. By explaining phenomena like natural selection, gene mutation and convergent evolution, these blinks are a clear and memorable introduction to how the planet’s great spectrum of life developed.”

– Thomas, English Editorial Lead at Blinkist

Key idea 1 of 10

The wide spectrum of life today is the result of populations being separated and hence evolving separately.

Life on Earth is a wonderfully diverse kaleidoscope of different species that live in a variety of environments. Every one of these species is in fact a cousin of every other; go back far enough in time, and you will find common ancestors that link all the species together.

The descendants of common ancestors have diverged and evolved into different species after being geographically separated. This separation allows their gene pools to develop independently from each other.

Populations of living species can become separated for various reasons. Sometimes great geographical events, such as earthquakes or floods, change the landscape of the land and split communities of life.

The movement of the continents due to plate tectonics can also separate populations of a species. Closely related fossils have been found in South America, Africa, Australia, India and Antarctica: their similarities are a legacy of the time when these continents were joined together into one massive continent. With the break-up of this ‘supercontinent,’ populations found themselves separated, and life diverged.

Sometimes life forms move across an existing geographical divide themselves and end up in the isolation needed to evolve into another species. Before 1995, there were no green Iguanas on the Caribbean island of Anguilla, but then suddenly a community arrived. It was found that they had migrated from another island over 160 miles away by floating on pieces of driftwood. Freak events like this demonstrate how populations can find themselves in new environments, separated from other members of their species, and eventually diverge into new kinds of species, adding new colors to the kaleidoscope of life.

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