Endless Forms Most Beautiful

  • Finalist , 2005 Los Angeles Times Book Prize (Science and Technology)
  • Finalist , 2006 National Academy of Sciences Communication Award
  • Top Science Books of the Year (2005), Discover Magazine
  • Top Science Books of the Year (2005), USA Today
  • Winner, 2006 Banta Prize, Wisconsin Library Association

Scientists and laypersons alike have long appreciated that the greatest spectacle of life is how a single cell — the fertilized egg — develops into a billion or trillion-celled animal. Scientists have also known that if they could figure out how form and pattern emerges in embryos, they could begin to understand how today’s incredibly diverse animal kingdom evolved from primitive forms over 600 million years ago.

That mystery has been revealed through a series of breathtaking discoveries in a new field called Evolutionary Developmental Biology, or Evo Devo for short. In the pages of ENDLESS FORMS MOST BEAUTIFUL, Sean B. Carroll, one of the pioneers of Evo Devo, explains this astounding scientific revolution to all readers. He shows how the new understanding of the genes that build animal bodies explains how , from so simple a beginning, the endless forms of the animal kingdom, including humans, have evolved.


“Writing in a clear, straightforward style and drawing on his own love for wildlife (and classic rock) for inspiration, Carroll… reveals a remarkable series of insights into how evolution has shaped— and continues to shape —the wondrous assortment of creatures that share this planet with us. He emerges as the new, user-friendly public face of evolutionary science in the process.”

- U.S. News and World Report

“Carroll… writes in a lively style, peppering the book with endlessly fascinating examples that are beautifully illustrated by color and black-and-white drawings and photographs.”

- Scientific American

“For those who want to enhance their sense of kinship with butterflies, zebras, apes and even ancient dinosaurs, Sean B. Carroll offers a treasure trove in Endless Forms Most Beautiful.”

- Christian Science Monitor

“a first-rate introduction to evo-devo for the scientifically curious.”

- Nature

“Carroll has brilliantly achieved what he set out to do… Evo devo is fundamental to understanding the biological world we live in, including ourselves. This is a beautiful and very important book.”

- American Scientist

“Carroll is at the vanguard of this promising field … a lucent and lively popular science writer deeply inspired by the order, ingenuity, and beauty of the molecular choreography he brings to light… a vital and enjoyable introduction to a field with profound implications.”

- Booklist

“Carroll combines clear writing with the deep knowledge gained from a lifetime of genetics research , first laying out the principles…and then sharing with us how they can explain both the progression of species in the fossil record and outlier like a six-fingered baseball pitcher.

- Publishers Weekly

“Like Rudyard Kipling, only in a labcoat…”

- Wisconsin State Journal

“The key to understanding diversity in nature is what happens in the embryo… and he [Carroll] provides compelling proof… Deserves to find its way into school rooms across the nation.”

- Kirkus Reviews

“Carroll is also a gifted writer. In a breathtakingly effortless manner, he builds on complex concepts…. This book belongs in all libraries.”

- Library Journal

“ an attractive and accessible introduction to the field of evo-devo… aimed at the non expert, and it succeeds magnificently.”

- Science and Theology News

“The author’s ability to make complex ideas understandable makes the book a must-read for anyone interested in genetics and the ongoing debate over evolution versus creationism.”

- Science News

“the first in the field to be written at a level and in a style that students, K-12 teachers, and the general public, as well as researchers, will enjoy and understand…a delightful read.”

- BioScience

“Any new field in science needs its standard-bearers. In Sean Carroll evo-devo has sucha champion…a master storyteller”

- PLoS Biology