EU shipping is temporarily suspended

Evolution in Action

Natural History through Spectacular Skeletons

Jean-Baptiste de Panafieu, Patrick Gries


Spectacular, mysterious, elegant or grotesque, the vertebrate skeletons of Earth’s fossil record carry within them the traces of several billion years of evolution.


Evolution in Action, a resounding success on its initial publication in 2007, is a unique and beautiful attempt to provide a map of those billion years in time. In this sublime mosaic of photographs and text, evolutionary biologist Jean-Baptiste de Panafieu and photographer Patrick Gries explore the skeletal record, showing through words and images the defining mechanics of all living vertebrates, including human beings.

Here is a powerful pairing: two hundred stark black-and-white photographs produced by Patrick Gries in collaboration with the Museum of Natural History in Paris are accompanied by text from scientist and documentarian Jean-Baptiste de Panafieu. The result is a revealing collection that profoundly illustrates the key themes of evolution – homology, convergence, adaptation, polymorphism and more.

Now updated and presented in a smaller format with fifteen new gorgeous photographs, Evolution in Action steps beyond the debate and presents the undeniable truth of Darwin’s theory, showing through skeletons both obscure and commonplace, but always intriguing, the process by which life has transformed itself, again and again.

Read More


'So beautiful ... so dramatic ... so evocative of life'
New Scientist

'Fascinating … the restored skeletons of animals from natural history museums are lit to highlight their beauty and grace … compelling'
Financial Times

Sunday Telegraph

Read More

Product Information

Book Details

Format: Hardback

Edition Type: New Edition

Size: 24.0 x 17.0 cm

Extent: 424 pp

Illustrations: 200

Publication date: 26 September 2011

ISBN: 9780500515983

Contents List

1. Architecture • 2. Classification • 3. The Birth of Species • 4. Selection and Seduction • 5. The Power of Environment • 6. Evolutionary Tinkering • 7. Constructions and Deconstructions • 8. A Question of Size • 9. Time and Evolution • 10. Our Family

About the Author

Jean-Baptiste de Panafieu is a Professor of Natural Sciences and a Doctor of Biological Oceanography.

Patrick Gries is a photographer. Among his most notable projects is his collaboration with the Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain in Paris.

List of Contributors

Jean-Baptiste de Panafieu, Patrick Gries