On Genetic Variety and the Human Body

Recommended by Carl Zimmer, and 1 others. See all reviews

Ranked #3 in Embryology, Ranked #16 in Genetics

"Who are the mutants? We are all mutants. But some of us are more mutant than others."

Variety, even deformity, may seem like an unlikely route by which to approach normality, even perfection. Yet much of what we know about the mechanisms of human development, growth, and aging comes from the study of people who are afflicted with congenital diseases, most of which have genetic causes. Congenital abnormalities reveal not only errors within the womb, but also our evolutionary history.

In Mutants, Armand Marie Leroi gives a brilliant narrative account of our...

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Carl Zimmer That’s right. Armand Leroi is a biologist at Imperial College, London. And this is a really wonderful book because Leroi takes what could have just been a freak show and turns it into a really amazing experience. He writes about these people as people. He finds wonderful portraits of individuals – for example, some of them are covered in hair and look like wolves – and he tells the story of their lives in quite beautiful prose. He also uses their conditions to talk about the rules of development. (Source)

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