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Morphology

Evolutionary developmental biology – evo-devo – is one of the most dynamic fields in modern biology, and is often poorly covered by introductory textbooks. Rather than providing students with background that would let them conduct scientific inquiry into this field, Explore Evolution provides an account that is too brief and deeply misleading. Perhaps the greatest failing of the book is its misrepresentation of authors, citing them in support of claims that they directly disagree with.

The only thing that exceeds this consistent misrepresenting of scientists' views is this chapter's plagiarism of a creationist source. In discussing the views of Richard Goldschmidt, a biologist of the 1940s, Explore Evolution borrows text from a letter to the editor by young earth creationist David Menton. Menton is not credited as the author of the text. Oddly, the plagiarized text adds little to the chapter, as Goldschmidt has no impact on 21st century biology. The plagiarism demonstrates the authors' lack of academic rigor and the book's deep ties to creationism.

In addition to misappropriating the words of a creationist to revive long-forgotten ideas, Explore Evolution mischaracterizes the views of modern scientists. The authors claim that scientists do not think mutations in DNA can explain new morphology, but the sources cited in support of this argument actually support the role of DNA as the repository of instructions for embryological development. This approach to the scientific literature is inaccurate and misleading, and ultimately contradictory to the principles of inquiry-based learning that Explore Evolution purports to exemplify.