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The Roundtable

Decoding Four Billion Years Of Life

Book cover for "Some Assembly Required"

Over billions of years, ancient fish evolved to walk on land, reptiles transformed into birds that fly, and ape-like primates evolved into humans that walk on two legs, talk, and write. For more than a century, paleontologists have traveled the globe to find fossils that show how such changes have happened.

We have now arrived at a remarkable moment—prehistoric fossils coupled with new DNA technology have given us the tools to answer some of the basic questions of our existence: How do big changes in evolution happen? Is our presence on Earth the product of mere chance? This new science reveals a multibillion-year evolutionary history filled with twists and turns, trial and error, accident and invention.

Now, Neil Shubin, gives us a lively and accessible account of the great transformations in the history of life on Earth in "Some Assembly Required: Decoding Four Billion Years of Life, from Ancient Fossils to DNA."