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Download PDF Dawn of the Neuron: The Early Struggles to Trace the Origin of Nervous Systems

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In science, sometimes it is best to keep things simple.

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Initially discrediting the discovery of neurons in jellyfish, mid-nineteenth-century scientists grouped jellyfish, comb-jellies, hydra, and sea anemones together under one term - "coelenterates" - and deemed these animals too similar to plants to warrant a nervous system. In Dawn of the Neuron, Michel Anctil shows how Darwin's theory of evolution completely eradicated this idea and cleared the way for the modern study of the neuron.

Once zoologists accepted the notion that varying levels of animal complexity could evolve, they began to use simple-structured creatures such as coelenterates and sponges to understand the building blocks of more complicated nervous systems.

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Dawn of the Neuron provides fascinating insights into the labours and lives of scientists who studied coelenterate nervous systems over several generations, and who approached the puzzling origin of the first nerve cells through the process outlined in evolutionary theory. Anctil also reveals how these scientists, who were willing to embrace improved and paradigm-changing scientific methods, still revealed their cultural backgrounds, their societal biases, and their attachments to schools of thought and academic traditions while presenting their ground-breaking work.

Their attitudes toward the neuron doctrine - where neurons are individual, self-contained cells - proved decisive in the exploration of how neurons first emerged. Featuring photographs and historical sketches to illustrate this quest for knowledge, Dawn of the Neuron is a remarkably in-depth exploration of the link between Darwin's theory of evolution and pioneering studies and understandings of the first evolved nervous systems. Read more Read less. Review "Dawn of the Neuron shows how the evolution metaphor controversy played out in the emergence of the neuron doctrine and how inadequate research methods misled many authors on fundamental questions.

But in the hands of Michel Anctil, the unassuming creatures take center stage as the birthplace of modern About the Author Michel Anctil is honorary professor of biology at Universite de Montreal. Curated by. Related Posts.

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Privacy Policy Terms of Service. In Dawn of the Neuron, Anctil describes how early neuroscientists, armed with the dual insights of cell theory and evolutionary theory, used coelenterates and sponges to show that the building blocks of neural systems existed in the evolutionary ancestors of more complex organisms.


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Seller Inventory ZZ2. Seller Inventory BTE Condition: New Book. Dust Jacket Condition: New. Size: 6 x 1. Quantity Available: 1.

Shipped Weight: Under 2 pounds. Inventory No: Naturalists in antiquity worked hard to dispel fanciful ideas about the meaning of living lights, but remained bewildered by them. Even Charles Darwin was perplexed by the chaotic diversity of luminous organisms, which he found difficult to reconcile with his evolutionary theory. It fell to naturalists and scientists to make sense of the dazzling displays of fireflies and other organisms. In Luminous Creatures Michel Anctil shows how mythical perceptions of bioluminescence gradually gave way to a scientific understanding of its mechanisms, functions, and evolution, and to the recognition of its usefulness for biomedical and other applied fields.

Following the rise of the modern scientific method and the circumnavigations and oceanographic expeditions of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, biologists began to realize the diversity of bioluminescence's expressions in light organs and ecological imprints, and how widespread it is on the planet.


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By the end of the nineteenth century an understanding of the chemical nature and physiological control of the phenomenon was at hand. Technological developments led to an explosion of knowledge on the ecology, evolution, and molecular biology of bioluminescence. Luminous Creatures tracks these historical events and illuminates the lives and the trail-blazing accomplishments of the scientists involved.

It offers a unique window into the awe-inspiring, phantasmagorical world of light-producing organisms, viewed from the perspectives of casual observers and scientists alike.

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Great condition with minimal wear, aging, or shelf wear. Seller Inventory P New copy - Usually dispatched within 2 working days. Seller Inventory B Condition: As New.

Dust Jacket Condition: As New. Black hardcovers with gilt spine titles.

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Corners not bumped. Black, illustrated DJ with yellow titles. No wear. Ships with Tracking Number! May not contain Access Codes or Supplements. May be ex-library.