Improbable Destinies

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Improbable Destinies

Improbable Destinies - Hardcover - USA - Riverhead Books.jpg

Hardcover - USA - 1st edition.

Author Jonathan Losos
Published 2017-08-08
Type Non-fiction
Genre Educational
Themes Biology, Evolution, Science
Age Group Adult

Improbable Destinies is a popular science book about evolution written by Dr. Jonathan Losos and published on 2017-08-08. The book was published with different subtitles, in the USA it's Fate, Chance, and the Future of Evolution, while in the UK, it's How Predictable Is Evolution?

In the book, Losos, who has a doctorate in zoology and specializes in herpetology, focuses heavily on convergent evolution: what it is, why it occurs, and how we can use it to make general predictions about the future of evolution.


Read?Audiobook read by Marc Cashman.

Always eager to expand my understanding of evolution, I found an audio book of this and decided to read it. While there is a wealth of information, the writing style irked me frequently.





  • The book gives a lot of examples of evolution from the level of the organism all the way down to the molecular level. It also goes into detail on how convergent evolution happens, but explains why merely giving examples of similar far-removed species isn't good enough to prove the theory since there are plenty of counterexamples as well.
  • The author is mindful to explain why bacteria and pests quickly develop immunity to antibiotics and pesticides due to their misuse, something I think should be repeated in every book about biology.


  • The book is not very gripping. I was bored for a lot of it.
  • The book is a bit of a love letter to Stephen Jay Gould quoting from him and describing a lot of his work. Not that there's anything wrong with Gould, but, if you want to know all about his work, you can just read his own books.


  • The author uses the words "rather" and "moreover" far too much. Sometimes the phrases appear several times on the same page. He used it so frequently it became annoying to the point where I almost stopped reading the book.