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Remarkable Creatures: Epic Adventures In The Search For The Origins Of Species

4.06 of 5 stars 4.06  ·  rating details  ·  593 ratings  ·  99 reviews
An award-wining biologist takes us on the dramatic
expeditions that unearthed the history of life on
our planet.
Just 150 years ago,most of our world was an unexplored
wilderness.Our sense of how old it was? Vague and
vastly off the mark. And our sense of our own species'
history? A set of fantastic myths and fairy tales. Fossils had
been known for millennia, but they were seen a
...more
Published (first published 2006)
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(showing 1-30 of 1,539)
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Leslie
Sooo.....we did evolve from apes. I knew it! That explains so many things, all the hair in unusual places, the urge to groom my husband, why my youngest hangs on me like a monkey. Carroll includes a quote on the last page of this book, talk is cheap, exploration and discovery is hard. Boy, oh boy is that true! Some people are just born to find stuff. Some people are just premade to tackle decades of dealing with sunburns, throwing up, fire ant bites, fevers, sea-sickness, more throwing up, starv ...more
Donna
I liked this book because it was as much about the scientists included as their discoveries. Of course now I want to go pick up more thorough biographies about some of the people that it covers...

The very end of the book starts to drag though. After a good overview of Pauling's political activism, things get a bit jargon heavy and we stop getting the same level of personal detail that made the rest of the book so interesting.
Stephanie
Feb 09, 2010 Stephanie rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Nerds like me
Science has a reputation for being boring. I’ve made the acquaintance of many a science textbook in my time, and I can say that, in spite of my love for science, that reputation is not unwarranted. Textbook writers could stand to learn a thing or two from Sean B. Carroll, author of Remarkable Creatures: Epic Adventures in the Search for the Origin of Species.

In Remarkable Creatures, Carroll tells the stories of many of the men and women that have made great discoveries in the field of evolutiona
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Susan
Surprisingly engaging read (my track record with nonfiction is not that good -- I tend to pick up books that I read about / heard about somewhere else that has engaging summaries and find them incredibly dull and long winded once I actually start reading them). It's kind of a...dramatized serial biography of people who are involved in studies of evolution. FAST read, which I definitely appreciate. Note that it IS written by a male Caucasian professor though and so the stories are, with very few ...more
Jenny Brown
Carroll's earlier book about evolutionary biology, "Endless Forms Most Beautiful" was an amazing book that takes the reader me deep inside the science underlying evolution and explained in ways comprehensible to the nonscientist how a limited number of genes go about building the myriad forms our bodies take. Given how great that book was, my expectations were high for this one.

Unfortunately, for me at least, this book turns out to be a very lightweight survey of several explorer/scientists whos
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Donna
In an extremely close, affectionate, life-long marriage, Charles Darwin and his wife Emma were able to tolerate and transcend their philosophical differences. (She was a devout, conservative Christian who believed in the Biblical version of creation.) He entrusted her with the disposition of his writings in the event of his early demise.

Louis Leaky, a son of English missionaries in Africa, was initiated into the native Kikuyu society at the age of 11. He received an African name (Wakuruigi, "So
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Nurul
I've read several of Dr. Carroll's scientific papers. So, standing on science section of a book store and finding a natural history book authored by him was like a tiny adventure for me, a successful one. I couldn't wait to read this book and follow his journey in tracking the pioneers of scientific natural history research in search for all the remarkable lifeforms on earth.

From Darwin, Wallace, Eugene Dubois with his 'Java man', back to the "Cambrian period which marked the early life on earth
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Amy
This was just absolutely brilliant! It was extraordinarily interesting and informative, exceptionally well written, beautifully researched, marvelously accessible and exciting, and wonderfully cohesive!

So many times I found myself shaking my head with awe and wonder at the discoveries made by the scientists profiled in this book. It was just marvelous--I loved it! It made me wish that I had stopped flirting with the idea of majoring in biology, and just gone ahead and done it. Remarkable, indee
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Kay
I very much enjoyed this author's style and method of presentation of the material. He makes complex subjects accessible for the non-scientist but doesn't dumb the material down so much that it's robbed of its vigor. While I was familiar with a number of the episodes and scientists portrayed, there was plenty that was new to me and I learned quite a bit. Each chapter is a mini-biography for a key researcher or explorer, combined with the major he advances made. What becomes clear is how each new ...more
Kristina
This book was a fascinating window into the history of the scientists behind our current understanding of evolution. I teach high school biology, so I'll admit that the topic is pretty well-suited to my personal interests, but Carroll's writing is familiar enough and his treatment of the personal stories of the scientists and history surrounding the development of their ideas is so well crafted, the book becomes a page-turner. This is a wonderful book for anyone learning about or interested in e ...more
Rama
Champions of natural history

This book chronicles the adventures of some of the great paleontologists, evolutionists, and molecular biologists in search for the origin of species. The book is described in three major parts; the first part focuses on the origin of species in general; the second part on particular kinds of animals; and finally the origins of human beings. In part one, the epic voyage of Charles Darwin, Alfred Wallace, and Henry Bates who laid foundations for the theory of natural s
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Tony
How can a history of natural historians be unputdownable you ask? I don't know, but it is! Holy crap this a REALLY good book! This author draws up just the right amount of detail and interesting facts around the lives of the men and women who have made the pivotal advances in the sciences of natural history, evolutionary biology, paleontology, anthropology, and evolutionary genetics. I have been taking brief notes on each chapter and once I've finished them I plan on updating this review.
Ashutosh Rai
This book should be used in schools as a textbook. What worries me is the manner in which science is taught in the schools. It is most often just a collection of facts, without any history.

Books like this tell us the stories behind those discoveries. It's very hard to forget the adventures of HMS Beagle or how Pauling was responsible for new trends in evolutionary biology. But if you just present the facts, they become uninteresting and science loses its charm. This is the area where this book
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Donna Hutt Stapfer Bell
Another junket book from my local NPR station (support public radio!) - not a story of the origin of species...but about the people and EVENTS surrounding the actual search itself.

Starts - sorta - with Darwin. But then goes into his contemporaries, students...and inheritors.

Simple, lovely stuff. Can be devored in an afternoon.
Virginia Brace
Sean Carroll tells the dramatic stories of the naturalists, anthropologists, paleontologists, chemists and biologists whose discoveries help tell the real story of how our world evolved. For the non-scientist he explains the exciting evolution of man and his world and it is a thrilling story.
Alida
Very accessible and enjoyable. Made my commute time easier. This a wonderful book to recommend to a teenager interested in science or an adult that needs a quick introduction to the subject.
Jason Thatcher
This resonated - it illustrates the interplay of chance and effort required to conduct research. I plan on asking my doctoral students to read it.
James Maxey
I've read a lot of books on evolution, and this is one of the best in terms of showing the field work underpinning the science. I especially appreciated including the errors and false trails that science followed, such as the widespread belief that humans must have evolved in Asia, or that huge conflict apparent age conflicts between fossil evidence for human evolution and genetic evidence. The book makes for a series of fascinating real life detective stories as again and again evidence comes t ...more
Jen
Hard to imagine a more readable book on the history of natural science than this one. Every chapter is a story from the last 150 years or so of natural science's explosive development, beginning of course with Darwin. Each story shares a similar archetype, and indeed, the book mostly follows the "great men" model of history, although their colleagues and wives are included as well. The discoveries covered include the "Wallace line", feathered dinosaurs, the incredible discovery of the story of t ...more
Ray
I was very pleaantly surprised by Sean Carroll's book "Remarkable Creatures: Epic Adventures In the Search For The Origins of Species". One forgets (or at least I did) how recent many of the discoveries about life on earth really are. For more than a thousand years, mankind's vision of the development of life, about fossils, the age of man itself were based on legends, superstition, or religious teachings. It was only in the past 150 years or so that great strides were made in our understanding ...more
Cathy Douglas
A good book that could be better. The first 3/4 or so makes very good reading, with the kind of details about the people involved that keep good popular science books interesting to lay readers. There was a lot of familiar material in these chapters, but I found enough that was new and some lively storytelling to keep me going.

Unaccountably, the writing degrades as Dr. Carroll gets closer to our own time and his areas of expertise -- interpreting genetic and other information at the cellular lev
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Athena
"All truths are easy to understand once they are discovered; the point is to discover them".

This book is a chronicle of the greatest adventures in natural history in the last 200 years. The author Sean Carroll, a professor of genetics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, looks at the lives of people who had gone into the wild, with one purpose, to find evidence of evolution. He starts with Darwin and his voyage around the world. Darwin's passion for collecting and for exploring the unknown wa
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Xine
In 1584, the Catholic monk Giordano Bruno asserted that there were “countless suns and countless earths all rotating around their suns.” He was charged with heresy and burned at the stake in 1600.
And here I thought peer reviews these days were unforgiving.


This book wasn't quite what I expected, but it was really lovely. It's not much about the creatures, but mostly about the discoverers. It's interesting, for all that.

This book features a few of my favorite scientists. That got me all excited
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Even
Enjoyable and interesting, but there is definetly some room for improvement. Carroll provides several brief biological sketches of some of the most important and interesting scientific discoveries in the histroy of evolutionary biology and geology. his focus is really about the process and joy of discovery. He begins broadly with the development of evolutionary theory and the voyage of the Beagle and proceeds foward in time and more narrowly in focus to modern biochemical analyisis of modern hum ...more
Alazzar
Disclaimer: the two-star rating is an indication of my own enjoyment of the book, not of the book's actual quality.

I wanted to read a book on biology, so I did a quick search on Goodreads and came up with Remarkable Creatures. But apparently I didn't realize what I was getting into, because the book isn't about biology so much as it is the history of biology. And, I tell ya--if there's one subject I hate, it's history.

The book started out okay (it's kind of interesting to think of what it must h
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Koen Crolla
Carroll writes a fieldwork-centric, mostly paleontology-centric book on evolution, which is interesting. You sometimes get pretty interesting paleontological popular science (Neil Shubin's Your Inner Fish, which Carroll covers, being a recent example), but they tend to be quite narrow in scope. It's easy to see why: you can't really give a broad overview of the whole of evolutionary biology without tackling more theoretical work. That work may be borne out in the fossil record, but using the fos ...more
Lucas  Piekarski
Do you believe in the story of Adam and Eve? Well you might be rethinking that after you've Remarkable Creatures. This book is a collection of all the great paleontological discoveries in history from Charles Darwin in the 1850's to Louis Leakey in the early-mid 1900's. It mainly focuses on where life itself came from, but a large part of it is dedicated to the origin of the modern human. It's not so much about the creatures that were discovered, but the people that discovered them. This book w ...more
Sandie
In Remarkable Creatures, Sean Carroll takes the reader on a lively tour of the discoveries in evolution, biology, genetics, archeology, geology and scientific dating that have revolutionized the thinking about how man appeared on earth and changed over the years. Carroll is a professor of molecular biology and genetics and an investigator with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute at the University of Wisconsin, and a member of the National Academy of Sciences.

The book is structured in three areas
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Ken-ichi
A great little overview of some notable biologists and their discoveries. Carroll tempers his wonder with rigor, succinctly but thoroughly explaining a great deal of science alongside the zany adventures of his heroes, with ample citations in appendices. My only critiques are that it was too brief to be completely satisfying for someone familiar with the science (at least in broad strokes), and the occasional moments of dorkiness (Snakes on Plane reference (p. 145)? Seriously?).

Notes

"I did not w
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Nicole
I was given a wonderful glimpse of what has driven great naturalists into the field despite fatigue, disease, and sometimes an utter lack of funds. These people clearly enjoyed taking their field by storm and getting down to serious disputations about their findings. There is nothing like a solid wrangle over a fossil to get the best work done.

Besides Darwin, Wallace and Bates early work and their influences the book covers Eugène Dubois's discovery of Java Man; Charles Walcott's discovery of th
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Sean B. Carroll (born September 17, 1960) is a professor of molecular biology, genetics, and medical genetics at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. He studies the evolution of cis-regulation in the context of biological development, using Drosophila as a model system. He is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator. Since 2010, he has been vice-president for science education of the Howard ...more
More about Sean B. Carroll...
Endless Forms Most Beautiful: The New Science of Evo Devo and the Making of the Animal Kingdom The Making of the Fittest: DNA and the Ultimate Forensic Record of Evolution Brave Genius: A Scientist, a Philosopher, and Their Daring Adventures from the French Resistance to the Nobel Prize Into the Jungle: Great Adventures in the Search for Evolution From DNA to Diversity

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