15 Evolutionary Gems from the Journal Nature

Monday, October 12, 2009 at 11:20 PM Bookmark and Share
A friend of mine just alerted me to this "must read" compilation of Nature papers on the evidence for (and utility of) evolutionary theory.  It's been out for a while, but I thought it worth sharing.

So why have the authors and Nature put together these articles (and provided them for free to the public)? They explain in the introduction:
Most biologists take for granted the idea that all life evolved by natural selection over billions of years. They get on with researching and teaching in disciplines that rest squarely on that foundation, secure in the knowledge that natural selection is a fact, in the same way that the Earth orbits the Sun is a fact.

...We offer here 15 examples published by Nature over the past decade or so to illustrate the breadth, depth and power of evolutionary thinking. We are happy to offer this resource freely and encourage its free dissemination.

Below I've provided links to the main papers referenced in the article above (all free to download as PDFs).  I highly recommend reading the summaries in the article before diving into the papers themselves, and of course sharing these 15 gems with others.

Happy reading! :)

Main References for 15 Evolutionary Gems


  1. Land-living ancestors of whales
    1. Thewissen, J. G. M., Cooper, L. N., Clementz, M. T., Bajpai, S. & Tiwari, B. N. Nature 450, (2007). http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nature06343
  2. From water to land
    1. Daeschler, E. B., Shubin, N. H. & Jenkins, F A. Nature 440,  (2006). http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nature04639
    2. Shubin, N. H., Daeschler, E. B., & Jenkins, F A. Nature 440, (2006). http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nature04637
  3. The origin of feathers
    1. Chen, P.-J., Dong, Z.-M. & Zhen, S.-N. Nature 391, (1998). http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nature34356
    2. Zhang, F., Zhou, Z., Xu, X., Wang, X. & Sullivan, C. Nature 455, (2008).  http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nature07447
  4. The evolutionary history of teeth
    1. Kavanagh, K. D., Evans, A. R. & Jernvall, J. Nature 449, 427–432 (2007).  http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nature06153
  5. The origin of the vertebrate skeleton
    1. Matsuoka, T. et al. Nature 436, 347–355 (2005).   http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nature03837
  6. Natural selection in speciation
    1. McKinnon, J. S. et al. Nature 429, 294–298 (2004). http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nature02556
  7. Natural selection in lizards
    1. Losos, J. B., Schoener, T. W. & Spiller, D. A. Nature 432, 505–508 (2004).   http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nature03039
  8. A case of co-evolution
    1. Decaestecker, E. et al. Nature 450, 870–873 (2007).   http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nature06291
  9. Differential dispersal in wild birds
    1. Garant, D., Kruuk, L. E. B., Wilkin, T. A., McCleery, R. H. & Sheldon, B. C. Nature 433, 60–65 (2005).  http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nature03051
    2. Postma, E. & van Noordwijk, A. J. Nature 433, 65-68 (2005).  http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nature03083
  10. Selective survival in wild guppies
    1. Olendorf, R. et al. Nature 441, 633–636 (2006). http://dx.doi.org/nature04646
  11. Evolutionary history matters
    1. Mehta, R. S. & Wainwright, P. C. Nature 449, 79–82 (2007).  http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nature06062
  12. Darwin’s Galapagos finches
    1. Abzhanov, A. et al. Nature 442, 563–567 (2006).   http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nature04843
  13. Microevolution meets macroevolution
    1. Gompel, N., Prud’homme, B., Wittkopp, P. J., Kassner, V. A. & Carroll, S. B. Nature 433, 481–487 (2005).  http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nature03235
  14. Toxin resistance in snakes and clams
    1. Geffeney, S. L., Fujimoto, E., Brodie, E. D., Brodie, E. D. Jr, & Ruben, P. C. Nature 434, 759–763 ( 2005).  http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nature03444
    2. Bricelj, V. M. et al. Nature 434, 763–767 (2005). http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nature03415
  15. Variation versus stability
    1. Bergman, A. & Siegal, M. L. Nature 424, 549–552 (2003). http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nature01765

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