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Hen's Teeth and Horse's Toes: Further Reflections in Natural History (Reflections in Natural History #3)

4.09 of 5 stars 4.09  ·  rating details  ·  1,287 ratings  ·  40 reviews
Over a century after Darwin published the Origin of Species, Darwinian theory is in a "vibrantly healthy state," writes Stephen Jay Gould, its most engaging and illuminating exponent. Exploring the "peculiar and mysterious particulars of nature," Gould introduces the reader to some of the many and wonderful manifestations of evolutionary biology.
Paperback, 416 pages
Published April 17th 1994 by W.W. Norton & Company (NY) (first published 1983)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,103)
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Mike Jensen
Jun 27, 2009 Mike Jensen marked it as books-abandoned  ·  review of another edition
This was one of the better selling books when I was a bookseller. As time passed and I became pursuaded of the validity of evolution, I have also become open to this book. When a copy fell into my hands, I had to give it a try.
The problem is that I have advanced in my knowledge of the subject, and science has advanced beyond some of Gould's essays. I'm sure this was a wonderful book in its time, but I am past the time it would have been wonderful to me.
Syd
Jul 09, 2007 Syd rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: science
After reading this book I wanted to be an entomologist. Yes, that fascinating. Evolution rocks.
Maya
Sep 20, 2007 Maya rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone
My current favorite essayist and evolutionist.
Devero
Una delle raccolte di saggi che preferisco del compianto Stephen Jay Gould. L'argomento è l'evoluzione, e la storia della scienza. Tra i pezzi fondamentali ci sono i tre articoli relativi a Teilhard e alla truffa di Piltdown, in cui Gould espone la sua tesi sulla probabile colpevolezza del giovane gesuita, che ho sempre trovato decisamente convincente, e la risposta argomentata a tutte le critiche mosse verso questa tesi. Vi sono poi brevi saggi molto illuminati sulla non moralità della Natura, ...more
Andrew
Anyone interested in biological evolution, or phylogeny, will love any of the books in Gould's "Further reflections" series. The chapters are roughly 20 pages long. Each one examines biological phenomena, which in itself makes for an interesting read. Gould takes it a step further by adjuncting each phenomena with misunderstanding and dilemmas that have hindered scientific understanding. I hope that's not too convoluted......Let me try that again....He adds moral dilemmas that scientist have fac ...more
Erik Graff
Apr 15, 2011 Erik Graff rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Gould fans
Recommended to Erik by: no one
Shelves: sciences
My background in the natural sciences is poor, a miserable chemistry class and the perceived moral imperatives of informed political action having taken me off track in the sophomore year of high school. After that, excepting perhaps some classes taken towards a psychology degree in graduate school, the only real science course I took thereafter was one in physics to fulfill a college requirement. Philosophy of science or history of science, yes, but no more science per se. Further pursuit of su ...more
Raro de Concurso
Es de los libros de Jay Gould, que en ciertas partes, menos me ha gustado de los que he leído (y he leído unos cuantos). Me ha resultado excesivamente técnico y farragoso seguir algunos artículos, tal vez porque el tema de los mismos no me llamaba demasiado la atención. Otros me han encantado. En general es un libro muy heterogéneo, que mezcla muchos temas y muy variados.

Sin embargo, en este libro, he conocido y me ha llegado el Jay Gould comprometido con la ciencia, contrario al racismo, a la e
...more
Aleisha Z Coleman
Nov 28, 2011 Aleisha Z Coleman rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: evolutionary biology buffs
This is another book that I have been plugging away on for about a year. It is a book of evolutionary biology essays, some were easier to understand than others. It go significantly easier to understand once I had read Darwin's Origin of the Species. (Only because Darwin was difficult to read and anything compared to it seems easy--in addition it was a good background knowledge). Stephen Gould came up with the evolutionary idea of Punctuated Equilibrium in the early 80's. It is a way of explaini ...more
_incubus
ammetto che gould l'avevo preso in considerazione solo in relazione alle sue teorie evoluzionistiche quando studiavo antropologia.. questo libro invece l'ho voluto iniziare perchè la mia coinquilina ne parlava in maniera talmente entusiastica che mi aveva appassionato ancora prima di leggere una sola riga.. beh devo dire che mi è piaciuto molto.. sono tanti saggi che parlano di svariati argomenti... alcuni a dire il vero erano un pochino più noiosi però in linea generale mi ha lasciato piacevolm ...more
Kevin
Maybe it would be better to read these essays in bits and pieces, rather than the whole book at once, because I ended up skipping around (some are way too technical for my interests and frankly, out of date) and completely skipping the last 5-6. Some were very good, for example, the explanation of why a “theory” of evolution isn’t a bad thing, as creationists seem to suggest. A theory is a collection of ideas and facts that support an idea--the theory of relativity, Newton’s theory of gravity. I ...more
Makomai
secondo me la migliore tra le 10 raccolte di saggi di Gould (la terza). Mi e` piaciuto in particolare "miti e realta' della jena" e la trilogia della zebra (che tra l'altro risponde alla famosa domanda se la zebra sia un animale bianco a strisce nere o un animale nero a strisce bianche)
Rena Sherwood
Couldn't finish this. Not only is this sadly outdated, but Gould is a dull writer. There are many contemporary evolutionary biologists who are far better writers.
Anthony Faber
A collection of his magazine pieces. Fun stuff.
Peter Ochs
Can we give him six stars?
Max
Some of this seems dated now, but as a natural history lightweight, a lot of it was still very fresh. I'm always impressed by Gould's style and humor and there's a lot of that in here. Even when he dives deeply into scientific explanations, he always resurfaces to give his casual readers what they need to get his larger points.

Highly recommended for anyone interested in Darwin or biology in general, especially those lacking more intensive scientific backgrounds.
Miriam
I couldn't finish it - which is very rare for me. I was often confused or unable to discern the point he was trying to make. His examples were not new to me, but he treated them as if they were entirely new and wonderful. ::Yawn:: I don't need to know why many species of anglerfish are so sexually dimorphous - I already know. (The male attaches himself to the female and shares her blood supply and basically acts as a little sperm producing appendage.)
Cheryl
I just don't know what to think. I don't have the training. I'm glad to know it's old so I don't have to feel like I'm missing something important! (That is to say, any of the ideas he proposes that have been accepted are now part of the current literature, and those that were not accepted can be disregarded. :)
David Kalat
I've been reading a lot of natural history lately, but mostly around the periphery, so it was nice to dig in with some "real stuff" by one of the masters. The essay anthology format was less satisfying than a coherent book on a single topic, but it also made it easier to digest in discrete chunks.
Alice
Son tornata all'antico amore per l'etologia e gli animali. Il libro è la raccolta degli articoli scientifici del prof. Gould. Scritto in tono divulgativo, racconta aneddoti e stranezze varie del mondo animale e non.
Per addetti ai lavori o amanti della scienza.
Andres Varela
Sí las personas se dieran más tiempo para intentar entender la evolución, algo utópico, viviríamos mejor en este planeta y los ensayos de divulgación de Gould serian una de las mejores herramientas para esto.
Linda
If you are curious about science and appreciate smart wit, I would recommend this book.
His essays on a variety of science related topics are insightful, witty, and thought-provoking.
Douglas Dalrymple
A note for the folks at Library of America: consider a volume of Stephen Jay Gould essays. For your selection borrow heavily from this volume and from Bully for Brontosaurus.
Biogeek
Jun 28, 2011 Biogeek rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Any biologist
Along with The Panda's Thumb and The Flamingo's Smile, part of Gould's fabulously readable, hugely entertaining and highly enlightening trilogy of reflections.
Rebecca
Fantastic, witty essays about natural history, including why males of any species exist, parasitism, evolution (my fave), and mutants!
Elizabeth
Fascinating stuff. And so accessible. If only more scientists could write like SJG... such a shame to lose him far too early.
James Hurley
My first exposure to a giant of a mind in the realm of Evolutionary science and thinking. I loved this collection.
Lisa
I only read certain chapters but again, Gould's writing is entertaining and interesting.
Evelyn
Quite good essays. All seem to espouse both knowledge and method.
Melinda
Not as easy a read for the layperson, but still compelling science.
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19109
Stephen Jay Gould was a prominent American paleontologist, evolutionary biologist, and historian of science. He was also one of the most influential and widely read writers of popular science of his generation. Gould spent most of his career teaching at Harvard University and working at the American Museum of Natural History in New York.

Most of Gould's empirical research was on land snails. Gould
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More about Stephen Jay Gould...

Other Books in the Series

Reflections in Natural History (10 books)
  • Ever Since Darwin: Reflections on Natural History
  • The Panda's Thumb: More Reflections in Natural History
  • The Flamingo's Smile: Reflections in Natural History
  • Bully for Brontosaurus: Reflections in Natural History
  • Eight Little Piggies: Reflections in Natural History
  • Dinosaur in a Haystack: Reflections in Natural History
  • Leonardo's Mountain of Clams and the Diet of Worms: Essays on Natural History
  • The Lying Stones of Marrakech: Penultimate Reflections in Natural History
  • I Have Landed: The End of a Beginning in Natural History
Wonderful Life: The Burgess Shale and the Nature of History The Mismeasure of Man The Panda's Thumb: More Reflections in Natural History Ever Since Darwin: Reflections on Natural History Bully for Brontosaurus: Reflections in Natural History

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“If we use the past only to creature heroes for present purposes, we will never understand the richness of human thought or the plurality of ways of knowing.” 3 likes
“We do not inhabit a perfected world where natural selection ruthlessly scrutinizes all organic structures and then molds them for optimal utility. Organisms inherit a body form and a style of embryonic development; these impose constraints upon future change and adaptation. In many cases, evolutionary pathways reflect inherited patterns more than current environmental demands. These inheritances constrain, but they also provide opportunity. A potentially minor genetic change […] entails a host of complex, nonadaptive consequences. The primary flexibility of evolution may arise from nonadaptive by-products that occasionally permit organisms to strike out in new and unpredictable directions. What “play” would evolution have if each structure were built for a restricted purpose and could be used for nothing else? How could humans learn to write if our brain had not evolved for hunting, social cohesion, or whatever, and could not transcend the adaptive boundaries of its original purpose?” 1 likes
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