Arrival of the Fittest: Solving Evolution's Greatest Puzzle
by Andreas Wagner
Current: 2014

Charles Darwin's theory of evolution transformed our understanding of life's diversity, but it could not fully answer a basic question that still vexes scientists: How does nature introduce complex traits? As evolutionary biologist Wagner puts it, natural selection “does not innovate, but merely selects what is already there.” The latest evolutionary science, however, is beginning to reveal how new traits arise in the first place. “What we have found so far,” Wagner writes, “already tells us that there is much more to evolution than meets the eye.” Drawing on his own and other researchers' work, he explains how large numbers of random mutations within species can combine to form the intricate and innovative traits seen in our planet's vast diversity.