Having done a lot of reading about evolution from authors that werepopular in recent decades, it was interesting to cover this short collection of six pieces by Julian Huxley, a hereditary peer of evolutionary science and one of those who was an experienced player at the time the Modern Synthesis emerged The pieces are all written accessibly and in layman s terms, representing as they do popular lectures which Huxley conducted for the general public.Unfortunately for this writing, evoluti Having done a lot of reading about evolution from authors that werepopular in recent decades, it was interesting to cover this short collection of six pieces by Julian Huxley, a hereditary peer of evolutionary science and one of those who was an experienced player at the time the Modern Synthesis emerged The pieces are all written accessibly and in layman s terms, representing as they do popular lectures which Huxley conducted for the general public.Unfortunately for this writing, evolutionary science has burgeoned in the intervening decades and some of Huxley s ideas look decidedly dated, and in a couple of cases outright mistaken The K T impactor thesis was not aired at this time, and he attributes the disappearance of the dinosaurs and rise of mammals to adaptational advantages which became relevant due to a period of mountain building We are now as sure as is probably possible that this was not the case, and that the survival of mammals and birds was a contingency due to the cataclysmic impact off Chicxulub.Again, with lungfish, Huxley lived in a world that had not yet discovered that swim bladders derive from lungs rather than lungs from swim bladders, so he mischaracterises their role in the evolution of amphibians He also cleaves to ideas of a scale or ladder of evolution that is simply incoherent in terms of modern evolutionary theory, and in my opinion owesto the persistence of Christian great chain of being thinking.Huxley s grandfather was the bulldog that chomped down on the clerical nose at the time when natural selection was first fighting for acceptance Any modern author enjoys decades of new work to illustrate the science with depth and richness, a depth and richness which extend almost by the day Huxley, through no fault of his own, finds himself between these two stools from the perspective of the early 21st Century reader This work is therefore historically interesting and very well written, but it is necessarily neither pivotal nor contemporary I would recommend reading it, but not before covering modern textbooks, Darwin, Dawkins and a number of others It was good. Not likely to be encountered much now, but for a short work it explains the basics of Neo Darwinism rather well. Starting with the first one celled organisms, a world famous biologist analyzes the broad processes of evolution the pattern of genetic structure the formation, adaptation, and specialization of species heredity mutations and natural selection in short, the mechanisms and principles common to all lifePassing from the general to the specific, he lucidly explains how, in advancement toward general efficiency, new capacities appear, such as the ability to fly or to learn by experience capacities that may lead a species to a blind alley of specialization, or to further progress, or even uniquely with man to a point where the species may learn how to control the course of its own development