INFOGRAPHIC: 5 Most Popular Evolution Books are 40 Years Obsolete

The world’s 5 most popular evolution books are: College textbook Evolution by Douglas Futuyma; Selfish Gene, Extended Phenotype and Blind Watchmaker by Richard Dawkins; and Why Evolution is True by Jerry Coyne. All sidestep and even dismiss the most vital discoveries of evolutionary biology. This Infographic details their omissions. (Click here to download PDF)

Stage 4 cancer patients are not much better off today than in 1930 despite the US Government spending $250 billion on cancer research.1 We’re also losing the antibiotics arms race against bacteria. Bugs evolve into superbugs in minutes; we don’t adequately understand why.

These problems stem from an inadequate understanding of evolution. A prime reason cancer treatments fail is that tumor cells evolve at tremendous speed by a self-governing process. Chemotherapy and radiation often trigger more aggressive cancers because cells evolve actively; not passively, slowly or accidentally.

Yet today’s five best-selling popular evolution books say little about these high speed systems, omitting some of the most valuable discoveries of the last 100 years.


DiscoveryPractical ConsequencesScientist
Formation of a new type of organism by fusing one cell into another.
Biology moves past "survival of fittest" to cooperation and partnership.Konstantin Mereschkowsky 1910*

Boris Kozo-Polyansky 1924 *

Lynn Margulis 1971
*not acknowledged by Futuyma, Coyne or Dawkins
2Macroevolution is punctuated evolution by major genome reorganizations that produce new species and is very different from gradual Darwinian "microevolution".Stage 3 and 4 cancers make evolutionary leaps. It is impossible to comprehend or cure cancer without distinguishing large scale macroevolutionary jumps from small incremental changes. The two are completely different. Richard Goldschmidt, "The Material Basis of
Evolution" 1940

Cells rearrange mobile DNA elements;
discovered Mobile Genetic Elements aka "Controlling Elements" which guide evolutionary changes.
McClintock's contribution rivaled Darwin's. She won the Nobel, yet is not well known. First to observe evolution in real time and decipher how it worked. Starting point for how all life manages stress and evolves at the cellular level. Barbara McClintock 1950-1953
Control of DNA sequence expression by the way it is packaged in the nucleus. Parents pass learned adaptations to their offspring.
Our lifestyle choices affect the heredity of our children. Evolution involves much more than just "genes." Holds profound implications for nutrition, exercise, addiction, drug treatment, smoking and family / social environment.Conrad Waddington 1942-1957
5Horizontal Gene Transfer
Even distantly related organisms exchange DNA with one another. Bacterial "Infectious heredity" alters offspring.
Bacteria outsmart any antibiotic. This is why we are losing the antibiotic resistance "arms race" and why we are powerless against "superbugs." Joshua Lederberg et al 1952
6DNA Repair
Ability of cells to repair chemical or physical damage to their DNA. Repaired DNA sometimes has different information than the old.
Contradicts the "meaningless and purposeless" overtones of Neo-Darwinism. Evolution is not random and has goals. Many rare genetic diseases (i.e. Werner syndrome) are caused by failures in DNA repair systems.Jean Weigle 1953

Evelyn Witkin 1966

Amanda Goodman 1998
7Reverse Transcription
Ability to copy RNA into DNA
We are not prisoners of our genes. The genome is a dynamic interactive organ of the cell and our DNA is not a "fixed program."Howard Temin 1970
8Generation of Novelty and
Gene Regulation

Repetitive DNA elements provide raw material for formatting gene regulatory networks to generate complex new traits.
Early evidence the "Junk DNA" theory was wrong. The best discoveries are being found there. This DNA is where many evolutionary changes get engineered.Roy Britten & Eric Davidson 1971
Chloroplasts originated when photosynthetic bacteria merged with eukaryotic cells.
Our bodies have cells within cells within cells, underscoring the cooperative interdependent fabric of life.Geoffrey Pigott & Noel Carr 1972

Linda Bonen & Ford Doolittle 1975

Lawrence Zablen, Martin Kissel et al 1975
10Pervasiveness of Mobile Genetic

All forms of life, including the simplest microbes, use transposable genetic elements to alter or reformat their genomes.
All organisms are capable of adapting and self-evolving as a proactive response to external changes.Al Bukhari, James Shapiro &
Sankar Adhya 1977
A new category of ancient cell is discovered ("archaea") A symbiogenetic fusion between a bacterium and an archaeon was ancestor to all eukaryotes including ourselves.
Symbiogenetic "merger acquisitions" featuring a branch of life discovered in the 1970s were a major foundational step in the evolution of all modern life forms.Carl Woese & George Fox 1977
12Retroviruses as evolutionary building blocks
Retroviruses supply genome networks for new complex characteristics like placenta formation, early embryonic development, and innate immunity.
Transforms our understanding of viruses, which are not always predators. Can be detrimental and beneficial. Viruses are the "open source code repository" of the earth and life finds new uses for them.Chao-Nan Ting, Susan Rosenberg et al 1992

Markt Boyd, Bridget Bax et al 1993

Patrick Venables, Sharon Brookes et al 1995
13RNA mediated control of gene expression
RNA molecules modify gene expression and complex traits such as embryonic development.
DNA sequences once labeled "Junk" produce RNA strands that in turn regulate DNA. Andrew Fire, SiQun Xu, et al 1998

Yasushi Okazaki, Masaaki Furuno et al 2002

Marcel Dinger, Paulo Amaral et al 2008
14Linkage between environment and genome change
Comparison of neighbors in distinct ecological conditions to show that differences stimulate specific genome changes.
Our bodies and all living things actively adapt to ecological niches, custom adapting us for where we live and work Eviatar Neva 1998
15Large scale modular genome reorganization
Sequencing of the human genome shows large-scale modular reorganizations of DNA, not small random mutations.
Human genome project showed that our bodies generated new proteins via large Lego-like combinations of DNA data blocks, not just small increments.Eric Lander, Lauren Linton et al 2001
16Epigenetic transmission of acquired traits
Mice alter the DNA of their own sperm, countering a long-standing dogma that genetic information only flows one way.
Diet, exercise and environment impact heredity for our children and grandchildren. Major implications for cancer, Alzheimer's and hundreds of diseases. Recognized by most fields but not evolutionary biology.Antonio Giordano et al 2000

Kevin Smith & Corrado Spadafora 2005

Carmine Pittoggi et al 2006
Organisms are a mosaic of symbiotic life forms called "holobionts." Humans host symbiotic skin and gut bacteria and more, making "microbiomes." Evolution occurs by adding and subtracting symbiotic partners.
Health is greatly impacted by companion organisms in our bodies like gut bacteria that are "not us"; we have to take proper care of them so they can take care of us.Ricardo Guerrero, Lynn Margulis et al 2013
Even some of Charles Darwin's greatest insights have been sidelined. Watch the 15 minute "Discovering the Real Darwin" filmed at Darwin's Down House by Voices from Oxford:

Reference: Shapiro, James, and Denis Noble. "What prevents mainstream evolutionists teaching the whole truth about how genomes evolve?" Progress in Biophysics and Molecular Biology (2021). Table has been updated to include the most recent editions of these books as of June 2021. ©2021 Denis Noble and James Shapiro. This is available under the Creative Commons CC-BY-NC-ND license and permits non-commercial use of the work as published, without adaptation or alteration, provided the work is fully attributed. For commercial permissions, contact Denis Noble through his website

1 Azra Raza The First Cell: and the Human Costs of Pursuing Cancer to the Last Basic Books (2019)


This infographic is based on research by James Shapiro and Denis Noble and their paper “What Prevents Mainstream Evolutionists From Teaching the Whole Truth About How Genomes Evolve?” (Progress in Biophysics and Molecular Biology, May 2021)

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