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Early Life: Evolution on the PreCambrian Earth, Second Edition

Author(s): Lynn Margulis, PhD, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Massachusetts
Michael Dolan, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Massachusetts
  • ISBN-13: 9780763714635
  • ISBN-10:0763714631
  • Paperback    168 pages      © 2002
Price: $156.95 US List
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Early Life: Evolution on the PreCambrian Earth, Second Edition offers an informative and compelling analysis of microbial evolution, often overlooked as the opening chapter of life's history. With this long-awaited new edition, Lynn Margulis and Michael Dolan integrate new discoveries from the past two decades, such as the enormous contribution of molecular biology, especially the accumulation of protein and DNA sequence information upon which the Woese three-domain system is based. Yet the prokaryotic-eukaryotic distinction remains the largest evolutionary discontinuity in life on Earth. Are the well-formed filaments found so recently in the Warrawoona Series of northwestern Australia really evidence of the oldest life on the planet?

Do the fossils found in the great Gunflint Iron Formation of Ontario tell that bacteria were instrumental in the accumulation of the most important iron reserves in the world?

These questions are not solved here, but they are raised for students, scientists, and general readers interested in the most basic evolution and its consequences. No special scientific background is required of the reader, only a lively interest.

Features & Benefits

New to this Edition!  Content incorporates up-to-date views of the latest research on the early evolution of microbial life. Many aspects, including the sequence of organelle acquisition, the nature of the cytoskeleton and latest results from whole genome studies are new to this edition.
Summarizes the biochemical pathways in easy-to-read format, freeing instructor from extensive preparation, and allowing students to get main points without frustration. Revision on origin of life and early cell evolution is up-to-date and reflects latest findings.
Glossary is written from a single perspective that transcends various disciplines; author's bottom-up (from microbes) perspective rather than top-down (from mammals) is original and the entire story is not found elsewhere. 

Applicable Courses

This text has been designed as a supplemental reader in any Evolution course taught out of the Biology Department at any four-year institution. However, it may be useful in a wide variety of courses, assisting students to better understand Microcosmos and Microbes.

  • Evolution   
  • Introduction to Biology (supplemental reader)   
  • Paleontology   
  • Historical Geology   
  • Microbiology   
  • Astrobiology   
  • Origins of Life   
  • Microbial Evolution and Organelle Heredity


Chapter 1                        Evolution of Cells
Chapter 2                        Life Without Oxygen
Chapter 3                        Life With Oxygen
Chapter 4                        A New Kind of Cell
Chapter 5                        The Evolution of Sex
Chapter 6                        The Modern Era


Lynn Margulis, PhD-University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Massachusetts

Lynn Margulis is Distinguished University Professor in the Department of Geosciences at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She is widely recognized for her theories on the symbiotic origin of eukaryotic cells, her development of the Five Kingdom classification scheme, and her role, with James Lovelock, in developing the Gaia Hypothesis. She is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and recent recipient of the National Medal of Science.

Additional Titles by this Author

Michael Dolan-University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Massachusetts

Michael Dolan is adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Geosciences at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. An expert on anaerobic protists of termites, he also teaches the class “Environmental Evolution” to advanced undergraduate and graduate students in biology, chemistry, and astronomy with Dr. Lynn Margulis.

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