"I like Steve Jones' work. I've read most of his scientific papers. I work on pulmonate snails, and he's one of the best in this little field. I don't know him very well. He's a very good scientist. He's followed the path of a media person, but in my professional world — snail biology — his science is very good." -Stephen Jay Gould

"I've enjoyed Steve Jones' recent book The Language of the Genes. He's a little bit too eager to bend over backwards to be politically respectable, because of the unsavory history of genetics, and he rather goes out of his way to disown those aspects of genetics that are politically disrespectable. I feel that that's over and done with now, and we can forget about it and get on, and I feel he's still a little bit unnecessarily eager to distance himself from the bad aspects of the history of genetics. But I have a lot of time for him;I greatly respect him." -Richard Dawkins


Steve Jones

Biology is not like physics; Newtonian physics is in a deep sense wrong, whereas Mendelism and Darwinism are in a deep sense right.

Steve Jones is a highly regarded geneticist and snail biologist. He is interested in why so much diversity exists in animals and plants: why no two individuals are alike. Surely, it can be argued, natural selection should instead inevitably lead to the evolution of one perfect form for each species. He works on the striking variety of shell color and banding patterns in the land snail Cepaea nemoralis. Cepaea has been seen as an archetype of diversity since the nineteenth century. In the 1950s, the English biologists Arthur Cain and Phillip Sheppard argued that such apparently trivial differences were under the action of natural selection (in this case because birds would attack the conspicuous forms). Jones finds that climate is also involved and � most important � that differences in microclimate on the scale of a few inches can alter the behavior and survival of snails of different pattern. Ecologically complex habitats hence foster genetic diversity. Jones has been writing and lecturing about science to a general audience for fifteen years.

STEVE JONES is a biologist; Professor of Genetics at the Galton Laboratory of University College London; coeditor (with Robert Martin and David Pilbeam) of The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Human Evolution; author of In the Blood; The Language of the Genes: Biology, History, and the Evolutionary Future (winner of the 1994 Science Book Prize); Darwin's Ghost: The Origin of Species Updated; Y: The Descent of Men : Revealing the Mysteries of Maleness ; and Coral: A Pessimist in Paradise.

Further reading on Edge: Chapter 5, "Why Is There So Much Genetic Diversity?" in The Third Culture.