Richard Dawkins gracefully talks about the role genetics play in evolution, genes and more in “The Selfish Gene”.
In the first few chapters the Selfish Gene is well explained. The mechanism and nature of DNA are the small units that make up our genes that pass through generations of life. The gene is called the ‘Selfish Gene’ in the title because genes are the genetic unit that deal with their survival only, whilst promoting their own transmission at the cost of its enemies.
Genes are the ‘survival machines’ because they use our bodies to duplicate, not the other way round. This simple concept is quite revolutionary.
Breaking it all down Richard discusses the tasks of genes, in particular the role they play in parenthood, families, relationships between sexes, altruism, selfishness and many other tasks.
The author also writes about a new kind of replicator – Memes which copy ideas, music, fashion, philosophies in our world.
The last chapter of the selfish gene deals with the theory of the extended phenotype which again is an interesting topic. Biologists have been left baffled as this concept means that chemical reactions (triggered by genes) in a body can affect the chemical reactions (leading to the desired behaviour) in other bodies. In other words, the theory explains that the behavior of a parasite or insect can cause change in the behavior of other animals.
The Selfish Gene is a strikingly beautiful book on evolution from a geneticists point of view. It is thoughtful and insightful whilst being a manageable read, the topics discussed are on the cutting edge of science, excellent.