Know thyself, pathologically, what a fragile bubble you are, and exposed to a thousand calamities.
If you understand these things, you are man, and a genus very distinct from all the others.
Every once in a while you come across a book that seems like it was written just for you. Mutants by Armand Marie Leroi was that book for me. I admit, I was even reading it through classes.
Mutants, as Leroi states in his prologue, is “about the making of the human body”, and how we “need…some direct way into the human genome and into the human body.” In order to do this, Leroi states, we must look at mutants.
Leroi’s mutants include those described throughout history as “monsters” in art, literature, and stories, but were probably just humans born with a outwardly expressing mutation. He also discusses conjoined twins, cyclops, humans covered entirely in thick hair, pygmies, those with albinism, and a great many more. He explains what happens as the embryo and fetus develop in the genes and DNA that ultimately result in these conditions. And from there we can discover what causes and controls normal development in each of these areas. And there are quite a few fascinating pictures as well.
A background in molecular biology was helpful when reading this book. While Leroi does an excellent job simplifying the complicated process of our body, those who don’t already have a footing, or aren’t super interested in that part of the story, may be bogged down a bit, because the book is overall a story of genetics and heredity, and the amazing thing that is the human body.
“Mutation is a game of chance, one we must all play, and at which we all lose. But some of us lose more heavily than others.”