Skip to main content



Introducing an issue devoted to the history of life on the earth a s it is understood in the light of the modern "synthetic" theory of evolution through natural selection, the organizing principle of biology today...

By Ernst Mayr

The Mechanisms of Evolution

The rapid advances of molecular genetics over the past two decades have accounted for the origin of mutations and have revealed that the variation within species is much greater than Darwin postulated...

By Francisco J. Ayala

Chemical Evolution and the Origin of Life

Within one billion years after the formation of the earth 4.6 billion years ago one-celled organisms had evolved out of organic molecules produced nonbiologically in an atmosphere containing no free oxygen...

By Richard E. Dickerson

The Evolution of the Earliest Cells

For some three billion years the only living things were primitive microorganisms. These early cells gave rise to biochemical systems and the oxygen-enriched atmosphere on which modern life depends...

By J. William Schopf

The Evolution of Multicellular Plants and Animals

It has been only during the last fifth of the history of life on the earth that multicellular organisms have existed. They appear to have arisen from unicellular organisms on numerous occasions...

By James W. Valentine

The Evolution of Ecological Systems

The coevolution of species within ecosystems gives rise to interesting patterns in the total number of species found in a given area, in their relative abundances and in the overall structure of the local food web...

By Robert M. May

The Evolution of Behavior

Here one of the key questions has to do with altruism: How is it that natural selection can favor patterns of behavior that apparently do not favor the survival of the individual?

By John Maynard Smith

The Evolution of Man

A wealth of new fossil evidence indicates that manlike creatures had already branched off from the other primates by four million years ago. Homo sapiens himselfarose only some 100,000 years ago...

By Sherwood L. Washburn


The manifest fit between organisms and their environment is a major outcome of evolution. Yet natural selection does not lead inevitably to adaptation; indeed, it is sometimes hard to define an adaptation...

By Richard C. Lewontin


  • 50 and 100 Years Ago, September 1978

  • Science and the Citizen, September 1978

  • Letters

    Letters to the Editors, September 1978

  • Recommended

    Books, September 1978

  • Mathematical Recreation

    Mathematical Games, September 1978

  • Amateur Scientist

    The Amateur Scientist, September 1978

  • Departments

    The Authors, September 1978

  • Bibliography, September 1978

Purchase To Read More

Already purchased this issue? Sign In to Access
Select Format
Scroll To Top