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Om Arrival of the Fittest
Natural selection can preserve innovations, but it cannot create them. Natures many innovationssome uncannily perfectcall for natural principles that accelerate lifes ability to innovate.Darwins theory of natural selection explains how useful adaptations are preserved over time. But the biggest mystery about evolution eluded him. As genetics pioneer Hugo de Vries put it, natural selection may explain the survival of the fittest, but it cannot explain the arrival of the fittest.Can random mutations over a mere 3.8 billion years really be responsible for wings, eyeballs, knees, camouflage, lactose digestion, photosynthesis, and the rest of natures creative marvels? And if the answer is no, what is the mechanism that explains evolutions speed and efficiency? InArrival of the Fittest, renowned evolutionary biologist Andreas Wagner draws on over fifteen years of research to present the missing piece in Darwin's theory. Using experimental and computational technologies that were heretofore unimagined, he has found that adaptations are not just driven by chance, but by a set of laws that allow nature to discover new molecules and mechanisms in a fraction of the time that random variation would take.Consider the Arctic cod, a fish that lives and thrives within six degrees ofthe North Pole, in waters that regularly fall below 0 degrees. At that temperature, the internal fluids of most organisms turn into ice crystals. And yet, the arctic cod survives by producing proteins that lower the freezing temperature of its body fluids, much like antifreeze does for a cars engine coolant. The invention of those proteins is an archetypal example of natures enormous powers of creativity.Meticulously researched, carefully argued, evocatively written, and full of fascinating examples from the animal kingdom,Arrival of the Fittestoffers up the final puzzle piece in the mystery of lifes rich diversity.