The Dutch ethologist Niko Tinbergen famously distinguished between proximal and ultimate explanations in biology. Proximally, biologists seek a mechanistic understanding of how organisms function; most of this volume addresses the molecular and physiological bases of biomineralization. But while much of biology might be viewed as a particularly interesting form of chemistry, it is more than that. Biology is chemistry with a history, requiring that proximal explanations be grounded in ultimate, or evolutionary, understanding. The physiological pathways by which organisms precipitate skeletal minerals and the forms and functions of the skeletons they fashion have been shaped by natural selection through geologic...

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