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Symbiotic Planet


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Table of Contents

* Prologue * Symbiosis Everywhere * Against Orthodoxy * Individuality by Incorporation * The Name of the Vine * Life from Scum * Animal Sex * Ashore * Gaia

About the Author

Lynn Margulis, Distinguished Professor in the Department of Geosciences at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, has been a member of the National Academy of Sciences since 1983. She is best known for her pathbreaking work on the bacterial origins of cell organelles and for her collaboration with James Lovelock on Gaia theory. Her previous books include Symbiosis in Cell Evolution Five Kingdoms (with K. V. Schwartz) and (with Dorion Sagan) Origins of Sex, Garden of Microbial Delights, What Is Life?, What Is Sex?, and Slanted Truths: Essays on Gaia, Symbiosis and Evolution.


For 30 years, the Gaia theory of life on Earth has remained vital, dynamic, and controversial. One of its leading advocates provides a synthesis and overview of the current status of the theory, plus a few important new ideas of her own. (LJ 11/15/98)

From the origin of life to the classification and phylogeny of living organisms, from a discussion of GaiaÄthe belief that Earth operates like a living beingÄto a discussion of the underlying reasons for sex, iconoclastic biologist Margulis (coauthor, What Is Sex?, etc.) takes on many of the big questions in biology in this small, rambling and informal tract. In a book that is part autobiography and part biological primer, MargulisÄthe scientist most responsible for the theory that animal and plant cells originally arose by combining with simple bacteriaÄadvances the idea that a large part of organic evolution can be explained by symbiosis, "the living together in physical contact of organisms of different species." Rather than convincing readers of this theory, however, she seems content to lavish most of her attention on basic biological concepts. While Margulis conveys a sense of the wondrous and intricate origins of life, many of the issues she touches upon here are more clearly and comprehensively dealt with in her other works. 11 b&w illustrations. (Nov.)

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