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The evolutionary biology of aging. By Michael R. Rose. New York Oxford University Press. 1991. ix + 221 pp. ISBN 0-19-506133-0. $35.00 (cloth)

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Despite my criticisms, I give this book top
from systematically refined biostratigraphic
records! I can only believe that this is an marks for effort, organization and contents.
oversight, since many of the volume’s con- The authors have delivered. This is not simtributors have 20 or more years’ experience ply a n interesting volume, it is a n important
with just this kind of research. It is neces- reference piece which should remain useful
sary to recognize that a next significant step for many years. I found the chapters on pawhich any paleontologist or paleoanthropol- leoenvironmental contexts (Chapter 2) and
ogist could make in refining the record pre- ecological characterization of fossil plants
sented by this book is revealing concomitant (Chapter 3) to be very strong, and ones that I
changes in functional morphology, dietary have already referred back to several times.
behavior and body size of phylogenetically Students interested in vertebrate paleontolwell resolved and calibrated lineages span- ogy and paleoanthropology will benefit
ning their entire biogeographic range. Many greatly from reading this book either during
such studies are currently ongoing for Meso- o r following graduate courses on these subzoic and Cenozoic vertebrate lineages, and jects. I found that the concomitant reviews
directly relevant to just the refinement that of the plant and animal records gave me a
this working group seeks. I dread the fresh insight on vertebrate evolution and
thought of the next paleontological genera- global paleoenvironmental change. The
tion seeking training in strictly “taxonomi- book is reasonably priced in the soft-bound
cally (actually = systematically) neutral” version, but I did have trouble with the cover
paleoecological research. What a loss of de- curling badly after reading the first 150
tail that would be!
pages. The hard-bound version is overpriced
I further found that the paleogeographic (an additional $45.00!),especially considerand paleoclimatic presentations would have ing that all the publisher did was replace the
benefitted from more detailed development cover. I have settled on the hard-cover verof the interplay between eustatic events and sion so that I can use it as a much-reassembly of faunas, and the relationship be- ferred-to work over the next several years. If
tween ocean basin evolution and global cli- you are a professional vertebrate paleontolomatic change. The paleogeographic maps in gist, paleoanthropologist, or a n interested
the last three chapters are useful, but not biologist, I believe you will agree that the
always accurate. The Middle Miocene (14 book is well worth having.
Ma) paleotopography map (Fig. 7.1, p. 362)
does not reflect my own understanding of
these relationships based upon 20 years of
Department of Anatomy
Laboratory of Paleobiology
research. This map more closely represents
College of Medicine
the early Miocene (ca. 20 Ma), and the EuroHoward University
pean continental shelf regions rendered acWashington, D.C.
tually depict Paratethys paleogeography.
Michael R. Rose. New York: Oxford University Press. 1991. ix + 221 pp. ISBN
0-19-506133-0. $35.00 (cloth).
Physical anthropology is a field which insists on placing a n evolutionary perspective
upon biological processes, and for this reason alone this volume by Michael Rose is a
welcome addition. In a carefullv constructed
work, Rose lays out not the importance of
evolutionary theory to our understanding of
the processes of aging and senescence but he
also discusses the experimental data in
terms of application to these theories. The
centrality of evolutionary theory to our understanding of the aging processes is the
major thrust of Rose’s work throughout.
“The fact that evolutionary theory can explain the existence of aging in a strikingly a
priori fashion, unlike any other theory of aging, suggests that it warrants serious exam-
ination a s a theoretical foundation for the synthesis of historical and current material.
study of aging” (p. 16). To this end, Rose Unlike many reviews of this type, Rose does
uniformly returns to discussions of repro- not strongly favor only one explanation for
duction and the declining force of natural aging, but presents arguments for and
selection with age in the evolution of aging against a number of plausible hypotheses.
For all cases, he also outlines the limitations
Rose begins by discussing the develop- of, o r difficulty in obtaining, the experimenment of evolutionary theories of aging and tal data needed to corroborate these theothe application of population genetics and ries. In general, however, he expresses dismathematical modeling to aging theory. appointment with the lack of success shown
Some may object to this lack of distinction by the cellular and molecular models.
Rose concludes with a lengthy discussion
between the terms “aging” and “senescence,”
yet, in many respects, Rose merely acknowl- on the future of gerontology which is a n atedges a change in the gerontological litera- tempt to bring into focus the divergent lines
ture which has blurred the boundaries be- of approach discussed in the earlier sections.
tween these usages. He follows with a n He proposes a hierarchy of causes with the
examination of how aging is observed in ex- apex formed by separation of the soma disperimental situations. Using examples tinct from the germ line. The ultimate cause
drawn primarily from studies of Drosophila of aging is seen in the soma and is “the at(fruit flies), he lays out the limitations and tenuation of the force of natural selection
and possibilities of experimental analyses, with respect to the age of gene effects” (p.
acknowledging the impacts of both genetics 161). Deleterious effects may increase due to
and environment on longevity and also on either of two population-genetic mechareproduction. Theoretical constructs of the nisms: 1) mutation accumulation or 2) angenetic mechanisms which may regulate the tagonistic pleiotropy.
In order to probe these causes, Rose calls
expression of aging are also presented.
Rose then progresses into a discussion of for a redirection in research, moving, to
the comparative biology of aging. This cen- some extent, away from the molecular and
ters on the assertion originally presented by cellular mechanisms and back to the organWilliams (1957) and restated here that only ismal level. “Perhaps the problem is that,
“when there is a n adult that produces a de- with lack of knowledge of the organismal
limitable offspring, a s opposed to splitting in mechanisms the contexts in which cellular or
two, can aging evolve, and then it must al- molecular mechanisms of aging might operways evolve” (p. 84) This separation of the ate are usually not clear” (p. 163). He also
soma and the germ line becomes the heart of calls for increased research with mammalian models, including, eventually, humanthis theory on the evolution of aging.
Chapters 6 and 7 concentrate on the or- subjects. The Iack of clear evidence for speganismal and the cellular and molecular cific aging mechanisms found in studies of
theories of aging respectively. It is within shortened mean life expectancy, either
these chapters that Rose begins to most stri- through genetic or environmental manipudently refocus attention away from actual lation, cause Rose to strongly to suggest a
mechanisms which induce aging changes shift toward studies of postponed aging. In
and onto evolution, without rejecting the im- particular such studies must address to
portance of the vast majority of gerontologi- what extent any postponement of aging afcal research which does not incorporate this fects fitness. In the ambitious program
view. In many cases, support for theories which Rose proposes for research, he acappears excellent but the mechanisms knowledges that the possibility of rapidly
through which they affect the organism is by developing the capacity to postpone aging in
altering the rates of reproduction. Often humans is remote but he is far from pessithese experiments have been performed in mistic about the eventual outcome.
Most praiseworthy in this book is Rose’s
species in which rapid early reproduction is
insistence on application of evolutionary
already associated with accelerated aging.
Together, these sections are a successful theory to a field most frequently discussed
in terms of pathological conditions or limited to a n examination of the mechanisms of
aging. Equally important is his willingness
to acknowledge the ambiguity with which
we are faced in investigating this perspective.
This work does not aim to provide a new
body of data from which to assess aging
mechanisms. The literature cited leans
heavily on older publications, and, of course,
does not reflect the wealth of information
which is currently coming to light. This,
however, does not dimininish from the value
of this contribution. It provides a consistent
approach through which to evaluate our
knowledge to date and presents a framework, which should be utilized in addressing
all current and future research on aging.
Bound version of a special issue of the
Journal of Human Ecology, comprising 23
papers on dental growth and development,
pathology, microevolution, and wear patterns.
Lukacs JR, ed. (1992) Culture, Ecology, and
Dental Anthropology. Delhi, India: Kamla-Raj Enterprises, $60 (cloth).
Fisher, HH (1992) Anatomy of Love: The
Natural History of Monogamy, Adultery,
and Diuorce. New York: W. W. Norton,
$22.95 (cloth).
Gould SJ (1992) Eight Little Piggies: Reflections i n Natural History. New York: W.W.
Norton, $22.95 (cloth).
Guthrie SE (1992) Faces in the Clouds: A
New Theory ofReligion. New York: Oxford
Univzrsity Press, $30 (cloth).
Roche AF (1992) Growth, Maturation, and
Anthropology Board
University of California
Santa Cruz, California
Body Composition: the Fels Longitudinal
Study 1929-1991. New York: Cambridge
University Press, $64.95 (cloth).
Schwartz, JH (1993) What The Bones Tell
Us. New York: Henry Holt, $25 (cloth).
Trinkaus, E, and P Shipman. (1992) The Neandertals: Changing The Image of Mankind. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, $30
Wolff Purcell, R, and SJ Gould (1992) Finders, Keepers: Eight Collectors. New York:
W.W. Norton, $50 (cloth).
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cloth, michael, university, isbn, new, 1991, york, 506133, evolutionary, biologya, rose, pres, aging, 221, oxford
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