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Here Be Dragons: How the Study of Animal and Plant Distributions Revolutionized Our Views of Life and Earth
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Here Be Dragons: How the Study of Animal and Plant Distributions Revolutionized Our Views of Life and Earth

4.13  ·  Rating Details  ·  87 Ratings  ·  15 Reviews
Why do we find polar bears only in the Arctic and penguins only in the Antarctic? Why are marsupials found only in Australia and South America? In a book that Science News called "fascinating and revelatory," Dennis McCarthy tells a story that encompasses two great, insightful theories that together explain the strange patterns of life across the world--evolution and plate ...more
Paperback, 214 pages
Published June 24th 2011 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published October 22nd 2009)
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Feb 07, 2015 Melanie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: animals, science
If you want to read a book about biodiversity, read David Quammen's "Song of the Dodo." That is an excellent book that is more entertaining, more informative, more scientific, better wwritten, core comprehensive. It is everything you wanted to know about biodiversity written in terms a layman can understand.

This book, on the other hand, is a quick gloss over of a very interesting topic. It jumps around a lot. It does not cover anything in depth. It does not explain how biodiversity is studied. I
Dec 21, 2009 Adam rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Dennis is a buddy of mine, so I picked up his book on biogeography, a subject I haven't delved into since reading Guns, Germs, and Steel freshman year of college. Here Be Dragons is an interesting overview of the history & importance of the topic with dozens of interesting factoids about the spread and evolution of various fauna and flora. The last chapter, on human biogeography & evolutionary psychology, is the most fascinating.

It may go too far, like E.O. Wilson does, to try to reduce
Pauline Hawkins
Dec 12, 2015 Pauline Hawkins rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2015
This is an amazing book about biogeography! For a non-science person, I was able to understand the concepts easily. Dennis McCarthy wrote the book with the layperson in mind. I have a much better understanding of evolution theories and plate tectonics, and how these ideas explain plant and animal distribution. I highly recommend it!
Jason Mills
Jun 21, 2013 Jason Mills rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Natural history buffs, geographers
Shelves: non-fiction, science
This is a good primer on biogeography, the science that relates the forms of life to the forms of the Earth. It covers the ground well and is interesting, though not quite exciting. We learn about: the travels and musings of Darwin and Wallace; sea-floor spreading; the isolating effects of the breakup of Gondwana in the southern hemisphere; the barriers (not always geographical) that induce speciation; and the impact of biogeographical factors on the development on human civilisation.

This last i
Lynne Williamson
Before reading this book, I had no idea of what intrepid Swashbucklers geographers are. Now, I can see that understanding geography is essential in many ways to understanding evolution and the formation of new species. "Here Be Dragons" covers some of the same territory as Dawkins' "The Greatest Show on Earth," but from the focused perspective of the, often tragic, clash between bio-organisms and the geographical changes that lead to natural selection and new species. The author gives extremely ...more
Nov 10, 2011 Jack rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science, evolution
Easily one of the best science books I've ever read. Not only does it popularize an exciting (and too-often overlooked) field of science, but it's engaging all the way through, a supremely well written book. You learn that Life and the Earth change and evolve together, with great examples from killer whales to polar bears to people. But this book isn’t just a coffee table, feel-good book full of quirky factoids (though there’s plenty of them!) about a certain field of study. It presents the read ...more
Jul 19, 2015 Martin rated it really liked it
A fascinating and inspiring read, a slightly different focus which is not often taught as much as other biological subjects, this book has a great range of basic information (boardering on a little too basic sometimes) whilst providing more advanced insight and a touch of humor, the author is not afraid to show his opinion but this only makes the book more gripping to read, seeing the thought process behind the man.
Jul 25, 2011 Ryan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nature
A brief introduction to how the theory of evolution and continental drift gave rise to biogeography. Its always a pleasure discovering new facets of natural history, such as how the Antartic was once teeming with life, but became an absolute hell when it was cut off from the other continents whilst freezing over due to climate change. That there are different 'tribes' of killer whales swimming our oceans. Or how Komodo dragons evolved to dine on pygmy elephants before there were deer and pigs on ...more
Chris Cosslett
Dec 17, 2014 Chris Cosslett rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The story of biogeography
Jan 07, 2013 Joshua rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had hoped that this book might be useful as a fun supplementary text for one of the classes I am teaching, however it is a little too basic for advanced undergraduate/graduate level. That being said, if you're interested in biogeography, especially from a historical perspective, this book is a great introduction into what the science is about.
Feb 15, 2012 Richard rated it really liked it
An excellent introduction to the notion of biogeography that tiptoes around some potentially controversial material toward the end, this book is loaded with fascinating examples that help keep what could be a very dry narrative engaging. When in doubt, bring out the pygmy elephants; they always keep things moving along.
May 02, 2016 Christopher rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, nonfiction
This is probably the ultimate geographic history, after Guns, Germs, and Steel. But whereas that book dealt with overwhelmingly human matter, this one is all about the entire process of long term tectonic shift and animal evolution. A real star of books in this field.
Sep 25, 2013 Elentarri rated it really liked it
This is a very interesting book on biogeography. I wish the book was longer though. The author's dry sense of humour is also amusing.
Jul 10, 2012 Fer rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Simple, educational and full of overwhelming examples .
Erika Aheimer
May 23, 2012 Erika Aheimer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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