Free Shipping on orders over $25

Book Details

  • Paperback
  • Bookstore's Wholesale Price: $25.00
  • January 2019
  • ISBN: 978-0-393-63156-2
  • 336 pages
  • Territory Rights: Worldwide

    Digital Product

Related Books

More Books

  1. Science
    1. Biology

The Story of Life

Great Discoveries in Biology

First Edition


See all options and formats starting at

Sean B. Carroll (Author)


Biology’s great discoveries and the people who make them

A unique opportunity for students to learn biology through stories told by one of the great science storytellers of our time: Sean B. Carroll. This enriching text follows the structure of an introductory biology course, with brief chapters that span the breadth of the life sciences. This gives maximum flexibility to assign a few stories, or all of them.


Stories about scientists searching for answers to the great mysteries of life

From Charles Darwin and Alfred Russell Wallace’s foundational theories to Jean Bennett and Albert Mcguire’s gene therapies. These brief stories convey the excitement of scientific discoveries surrounding life’s essential questions. How did life arise? Are species divinely created or the products of natural processes? What makes us sick? Each chapter focuses on how pioneering scientists cracked open these mysteries.

Dynamic stories complement any textbook and course

The Story of Life lets students explore how great discoveries and ideas were born in a friendly, narrative format. Stories that range the entire breadth of an introductory biology course are presented in five parts: the process of science, heredity, evolution, ecology, and physiology. This gives you many flexible options for which stories to assign and when.

Assigning stories is easy with help from thoughtful pedagogy

Looking for ways to ensure students read? The review and thought questions throughout help students assess their understanding. They’ll review key experiments as well as discoveries and ideas. A thorough Instructor’s Guide provides story overviews, suggestions for classroom discussion, references to using the HHMI BioInteractive films as enrichment, and more.

    Preface: Why Stories?

    Storytelling is a powerful but underutilized way of learning science; why the particular stories in this book were selected.

    I.  The Process of Science

    How the scientific process works, and what can happen when it is undermined.

    1.  Guts and Glory   

    Robin Warren’s and Barry Marshall’s revolutionary discovery and unorthodox demonstration that H. pylori is the cause of ulcers.

    2.  First Do No Harm

    Do vaccines cause autism? The story of the physician who raised the alarm about a link between vaccination and autism, and then how that claim has been tested and affected vaccination rates across the world.

    II.  Heredity

    How does like produce like? The stories of three seminal discoveries that revealed the physical basis of heredity, and the strides being made today to correct human disorders with gene therapy.

    3.  Like Beads on a Necklace

    Where does genetic information reside? The story of T.H. Morgan and collaborators’ experiments in fruit flies that proved the chromosomal basis of heredity.

    4.  Who Would Have Guessed it?

    Frederick Griffith and Oswald Avery’s experiments in bacteria that culminated in the key evidence that DNA is the chemical basis of heredity.

    5.  The Secret of Life

    James Watson and Francis Crick’sbold and ultimately successful quest to solve the structure of DNA that revealed how genetic information could be faithfully replicated from generation to generation, and evolve by mutation.

    6.  Genes as Medicine

    The story of Jean Bennett and Albert Maguire’s quest to correct blindness with gene therapy.

    III.  Evolution and the Origins of Biological Diversity

    Evolution is said to be the biggest idea humans ever conceived. This section presents the stories of several pioneers who first illuminated key chapters in the story of life, and the origins of species, cells, animals, and humans.

    7.  Great Minds Think Alike

    The epic journeys of Charles Darwin and Alfred Wallace, and the similar patterns of observations that lead them to independently propose the theory of evolution by natural selection.

    8.  An Explosion of Animals

    When and why did animal life first flourish? Charles Walcott’s discovery of a huge deposit of fossils in the Canadian Rockies that document the so-called “Cambrian Explosion” of animal life over 500 million years ago.

    9.  Evolution by Merger

    How did complex eukaryotic cells evolve? The story of the radical theory championed by Lynn Margulis that eukaryotic organelles arose from symbiotic bacteria.

    10.  A Third Form of Life

    The stunning discovery by Carl Woese and colleagues of the Archaea, an entire domain of life that was overlooked by biologists for decades.

    11.  Queen of the Stone Age 

    The adventures of Mary and Louis Leakey, whose discoveries of early hominids at Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania demonstrated that Africa is the cradle of humanity.

    12.  A Little Bit of Neanderthal in Many of Us

    The stunning discovery by Svante Pääbo and colleagues that many people retain a trace of Neanderthal ancestry in their DNA.

    IV.  Ecology

    How does nature work? This section features some of the first experimental approaches to ecology that revealed surprising truths about the factors that shape ecosystems and the environment, and that are the scientific foundation for modern environmental stewardship.

    13.  You Are Who You Eat

    The adventures of Charles Elton, who described the first food chains, revealed how food is the currency in the economy of nature, and founded modern ecology. 

    14.  Why Is the World Green?

    Robert Paine’s pioneering experiments that overturned thinking about the roles of predators in communities, and spurred new conservation strategies.

    15.  A Rule of Thumb (To Save the World)

    What determines how many species live in a given place? The story of E.O. Wilson and Daniel Simberloff’s experimental test of the theory of island biogeography, and its application to conservation.

    16.  The Future of Life on a Hockey Stick

    The discovery by Charles Keeling of the increasing concentration of carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere, and the potential consequences for the planet.

    V. Physiology and Medicine

    How do the body’s complex organs and systems function? The mysteries of development, immunity, and the brain have been penetrated by a few seminal experiments and discoveries, with profound implications for medicine.

    17.Unleashing Potential  

    The surprising demonstration by John Gurdon that mature somatic cells can be reprogrammed to generate a cloned animal, and Shinya Yamanaka’s discovery of the molecular recipe for reprogramming.

    18. The Arsenal of Immunity 

    How does the body mount a specific immune response to any and all foreign invaders? The story of Susuma Tonegawa’s discovery of the molecular basis of antibody diversity.

    19.Everyone Has a Split Personality

    How does the brain work? The story of Roger Sperry’s pioneering studies of human split-brain patients and his discovery of the different roles of left and right hemispheres.