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Evolution: The Modern Synthesis facts for kids

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Evolution: The Modern Synthesis is the title of a book by Julian Huxley which was published in 1942. It was the book which gave the modern evolutionary synthesis its name, and was one of the most important books on biology in the mid-twentieth century.

The background to the book

Huxley was one of the main architects of the new evolutionary synthesis which took place around the time of World War II.

"The most informative episode in the history of evolutionary biology was the establishment of the 'neo-Darwinian synthesis'." Berry and Bradshaw, 1992. The synthesis was brought about "not by one side being proved right and the others wrong, but by the exchange of the most viable components of the previously competing research strategies". Ernst Mayr, 1980.

A trial run

Huxley's first 'trial run' was the treatment of evolution in the Science of Life (1929–30), and in 1936 he published a long and significant paper for the British Association. In 1938 came three lengthy reviews on major evolutionary topics.

Two of these papers were on the subject of sexual selection, an idea of Darwin's whose standing has been revived in recent times. Huxley thought that sexual selection was "...merely an aspect of natural selection". This rather grudging acceptance of sexual selection was influenced by his studies on the courtship of the Great Crested Grebe (and other birds that pair for life): the courtship takes place mostly after mate selection, not before.

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