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Freaks of Nature: What Anomalies Tell Us about Development and Evolution

by Mark S. Blumberg
New York: Oxford University Press, 2009. 352 pages.

The purpose of Freaks of Nature, writes reviewer Paul R. Gross, is “to present insights from evolutionary developmental biology … The insights offered derive from a putatively new understanding of the real significance of monsters, said to have been unrecognized, or—worse—ignored, after the triumph of the modern synthesis so-called of genetics with comparative morphology and paleontology, under the driving force of successful Darwinian selection theory.” While appreciating Blumberg’s “enthusiasm, documentation, and fascinating details,” Gross regards his main claims on behalf of evo-devo and of the significance of “freaks of nature” as either uncontroversial or unproven.