Mutants: On the Form, Varieties and Errors of the Human Body

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9780007184576: Mutants: On the Form, Varieties and Errors of the Human Body

How we grow; and what happens when mistakes occur Mutants is a book about how the body develops and grows from a single cell to an adult and then declines into old age. What does the new molecular genetics tell us about the human condition? How is a limb formed? Why do we have five fingers (and not six)? What controls the size to which we grow? Why do we age?More than this, however, it is a brilliant narrative history of what happens when things go wrong. This book tells, rather like a biological verison of The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, the stories of particularly historically important and bizarre cases: of a French convent girl of the last century who found herself changing sex upon puberty and her miserable fate in the gutters of Paris; of children, invariably stillborn, who have cylopia (one eye located beneath their nasal cavity); of a tribe of pygmies in the Andaman Islands and a village of Ecuadorian dwarves: of a remarkably hairy family who were kept at the Burmese Royal Court for four generations (and from whom Darwin took one of his keenest insights into heredity); and so on. From each important lessons are drawn that illustrate over and over again the amazing nature of cellular growth and how it works.

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About the Author:

Armand Leroi was born in 1964 in New Zealand, and has lived all over the world;. He has published widely in technical journals on evolutionary and developmental genetics, and is currently Reader in Evolutionary Developmental Biology at Imperial College London.

Review:

'Once, people with disfiguring or bizarre mutations were thought monstrous. Now they give vital clues to the dance of genes during the body's growth. Armand Leroi combines meticulous historical research, brand-new genetic understanding and consummate skill with words to tell an absorbing tale' Matt Ridley 'Mutants thrills and repels and informs us of the delicacy and wonder of growth and development. It is written with great grace' Richard Fortey 'An exquisitely life-enhancing book...Read it and marvel' Peter Little, Nature 'Mutants is much more than a description of the many damaged or unusual forms of human beings that live now and have existed in the past. It is a fun read, being a spicy mix of history, developmental biology and genetics that does the trick of being both entertaining and educational.' Peter Lawrence, author of The Making of a Fly

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Leroi, Armand Marie
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