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Major Transitions in Evolution

Narrated by: Anthony Martin, John Hawks
Length: 12 hrs and 14 mins
4.9 out of 5 stars (10 ratings)

Non-member price: $48.69

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Publisher's Summary

Imagine a world without bees, butterflies, and flowering plants. That was Earth 125 million years ago. Turn back the clock 400 million years, and there were no trees. At 450 million years in the past, even the earliest insects had not yet developed. And looking back 500 million years, the land was devoid of life, which at that time flourished in a profusion of strange forms in the oceans. 

These and other major turning points are the amazing story of evolution. Given the broad scope of the subject, this course is taught by two professors: Anthony Martin, a paleontologist and geologist at Emory University, and John Hawks, a paleoanthropologist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Each is an outstanding teacher in his field, adept at making the subject interesting and accessible no matter what your background in science. 

In 24 lavishly illustrated lectures, you will learn about Earth’s major transitions, each of which brought forth new possibilities for life. You will study the conditions that led to the first complex cells, flying insects, flowering plants, mammals, modern humans, and many other breakthroughs. And in the process of studying the past, you will gain a powerful understanding of the present world. 

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio. 

©2010 The Great Courses (P)2010 The Teaching Company, LLC

What listeners say about Major Transitions in Evolution

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    4 out of 5 stars

Full of facts, details and information

I found the book to be full of facts and information by the authors who are clearly experts in the field. As a lay-person interested in the subject I did however find it particularly 'technical' and being unfamiliar with the jargon, e.g Prokaryotes to Eukaryotes, etc is a bit heavy going for 12 hours and therefore I did find it difficult to follow. Also, the Audible version is presumably a recording of their live classroom presentation whereby they often refer to slides which is not much use when listening on my phone. Would be a particularly great book for academics in this subject.

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Fabulous

Great information by enthusiastic scientists and lecturers, loved the shared lecture at the end. This will certainly be listened to again.

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  • Yvonne K.
  • 20-04-2019

Engaging and wanting to know more about Deep Time!

A very informative and enjoyable audiobook. A good introduction on Biology and the beauty of evolution, however, one thing missing for me is the lack of picture samples on the PDF, which the narrator mentions on each lectures. If you're not familiar with the sample he mentioned, you literally need to search it just to have an idea of what the narrator is saying but overall it's a good listen and leaving you excited for the next lecture.

5 people found this helpful

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  • Trebla
  • 24-04-2019

Why People drop out of science

Dr. Martin is an obviously bright, knowledgeable guy with enthusiasm for his topic. But the constant stream of factoids without a consistent theme or organizing idea just makes this painful. Much like those history courses made of a recitation of dates & names- it just numbs any potential enjoyment of the insights. I'm very much a science guy yet this is only the second book/course (out of ~200) I just could not finish.

9 people found this helpful

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  • Samuel Simons
  • 17-01-2020

A great course but with issues

The course is an interesting and detailed coverage of evolution but unfortunately the presentation is a major problem. It was quite annoying that professor Martin kept referring to figures and pictures. Not only is this not helpful when listening to the course while driving, but the figures aren't included in the PDF! Professor Martin is clearly an expert and excited by his subject but his delivery left something to be desired. I often found myself drifting off and had to repeat sections. I'm sure this is a great course in a seminar setting but I can't recommend it for the car.

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  • B. Bartosh
  • 05-12-2019

Excellent Course!

I love the evolution courses, especially anything with John Hawks in it. If there were two recommendations I could make to the Great Courses, they would be 1) make more of these available through Amazon’s Signature Collection, so that more people can afford to stream the visuals, which is rather important when the professors are describing fossils. The other would be to add more period-specific courses, such as a course just on the Mesozoic or Cenozoic. I would love to get some Deep History Courses that are more in-depth!

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  • A. D. DeLong
  • 04-05-2020

In depth and generally well done

There are two instructors in this course and they cover a lot of details concerning evolution. I found it easy to understand the lecturers and the material was informative.

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  • Pete M
  • 14-03-2020

Mostly excellent course but missing few key points.

Covered most of what I wanted to learn but skipped over grasses for instance. Also would’ve liked to hear more about eukaryote beginning

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  • Sebastian Meiser
  • 05-02-2020

Interesting journey through evolution

I'm almost halfway in; so far I've only heard the first presenter. The story of evolution and (a small selection of) it's major transitions is very interesting. I found some of the steps eye opening and very cool. The presenter does a good job in explaining what's going on and his voice is clear, pleasant and professional. My main criticism of the book so far is that it wastes a tremendous amount of potential by spending at least 50% of it's energy on (in my ignorant eyes) irrelevant information: the professor might be excited by who found which fossil in which deposit of an age named after which region and how was it classified or misclassified, but in my eyes that time could have been spent better. While classification, which seems often to be done by some superficial aspect, can really help in finding out the lineage of the individual fossiles, I would have preferred more attention on what and how they actually evolved. Who cares what name was given to a specimen and where people drew the exact boundaries between one category of animal and another? I found the parts that actually explained or attempted to explain how and why specific parts evolved so much more interesting, e.g., the development of eggs to carry a small microcosm of a pond.

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  • Jean
  • 23-10-2019

Brilliant!

Loved the lectures, so interesting and just at the right level for me (animal biology graduate) and I am away to listen to them again!

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  • Mr. R. D. Cox
  • 17-10-2020

Don't say "like this"

Don't say "like this", and demonstrate the way an animal would have moved; demonstrations don't work for audio books. I learned much, but the cretatious extinction was over simplistic and didn't explore the possibilities.