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In science sometimes it is best to keep things sim- ple. Initially discrediting the discovery of neurons in jellysh mid-nineteenth-century scientists grouped jellysh comb-jellies hydra and sea anemones together under one term coelenter- ates and deemed these animals too similar to plants to warrant a nervous system. In Dawn of the Neuron Michel Anctil shows how Darwins theory of evolution completely eradicated this idea and cleared the way for the modern study of the neuron. Once zoologists accepted the notion that vary- ing levels of animal complexity could evolve they began to use simple-structured creatures such as coelenterates and sponges to understand the build- ing blocks of more complicated nervous systems. Dawn of the Neuron provides fascinating insights into the labours and lives of scientists who studied coelenterate nervous systems over several genera- tions and who approached the puzzling origin of the rst nerve cells through the process outlined in evolutionary theory. Anctil also reveals how these scientists who were willing to embrace improved and paradigm-changing scientic 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 explo- ration of how neurons rst 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 Darwins theory of evolution and pioneering studies and understandings of the rst evolved nervous systems. Dawn of the Neuron shows how the evolution metaphor controversy played out in the emergence of the neuron doctrine and how inadequate re- search methods misled many authors on funda- mental questions. The book is therefore a caution with regard to the overzealous speculation about universal principles of neural organization. Anctil has been active in research on coelenterates and therefore is an excellent guide in adjudicating these controversies. Gordon M. Shepherd Yale University Michel Anctil is honorary professor of biology at Universit de Montral. 2 0 M Q U P F A L L 2 0 1 5 H I S T O R Y O F S C I E N C E Dawn of the Neuron The Early Struggles to Trace the Origin of Nervous Systems michel anctil How Darwins theory of evolution drove generations of zoologists to search for the rst evolved nervous systems in simple organisms. S P E C I F I C AT I O N S October 2015 978-0-7735-4571-7 49.95T CDN 44.95T US 31.00 cloth 6 x 9 416pp 85 bw photos Ebook available