The History Book Club discussion

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message 1: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 33788 comments Mod
This is a thread to discuss Evolution and the "origin of the species".


message 2: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 33788 comments Mod
Of course, who can forget this classic:

The Origin of Species

The Origin of Species by Charles Darwin Charles DarwinCharles Darwin

Goodreads Write-up

Voyage with Darwin as he gathers the raw material that ushered in the greatest intellectual revolution in 2,000 years upon the publication of this very book!


message 3: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 33788 comments Mod
Or this other controversial book:

The Selfish Gene 30th Anniversary Edition by Richard Dawkins by Richard DawkinsRichard Dawkins

From Wikipedia:

The Selfish Gene is a book on evolution by Richard Dawkins, published in 1976. It builds upon the principal theory of George C. Williams's first book Adaptation and Natural Selection. Dawkins coined the term "selfish gene" as a way of expressing the gene-centred view of evolution as opposed to the views focused on the organism and the group. From the gene-centred view follows that the more two individuals are genetically related, the more sense (at the level of the genes) it makes for them to behave selflessly with each other. Therefore the concept is especially good at explaining many forms of altruism, regardless of a common misuse of the term along the lines of a selfishness gene.
An organism is expected to evolve to maximize its inclusive fitness — the number of copies of its genes passed on globally (rather than by a particular individual). As a result, populations will tend towards an evolutionarily stable strategy. The book also coins the term meme for a unit of human cultural evolution analogous to the gene, suggesting that such "selfish" replication may also model human culture, in a different sense. Memetics has become the subject of many studies since the publication of the book.
In the foreword to the book's 30th-anniversary edition, Dawkins said he "can readily see that [the book's title] might give an inadequate impression of its contents" and in retrospect thinks he should have taken Tom Maschler's advice and called the book The Immortal Gene.[1]

Source:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Self...

Video Introduction:

Listen to Richard Dawkins:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ciFe8J...

http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/spe...

Edge: The Third Culture

http://www.edge.org/3rd_culture/selfi...


message 4: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 33788 comments Mod
Your Inner Fish: A Journey Into the 3.5-Billion-Year History of the Human Body

Your Inner Fish A Journey Into the 3.5-Billion-Year History of the Human Body  by Neil ShubinNeil Shubin

Goodreads Write-up:

Why do we look the way we do? What does the human hand have in common with the wing of a fly? Are breasts, sweat glands, and scales connected in some way? To better understand the inner workings of our bodies and to trace the origins of many of today's most common diseases, we have to turn to unexpected sources: worms, flies, and even fish. Neil Shubin, a leading paleontologist and professor of anatomy who discovered Tiktaalik's the "missing link" that made headlines around the world in April 2006 tells the story of evolution by tracing the organs of the human body back millions of years, long before the first creatures walked the earth. By examining fossils and DNA, Shubin shows us that our hands actually resemble fish fins, our head is organized like that of a long-extinct jawless fish, and major parts of our genome look and function like those of worms and bacteria. Shubin makes us see ourselves and our world in a completely new light. Your Inner Fish is science writing at its finest; enlightening, accessible, and told with irresistible enthusiasm.

Awards:

National Academies of Sciences Book Award (2009), Phi Beta Kappa Science Book Award (2008), Society of Midland's Authors Nonfiction Book Prize (2009)



message 5: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 33788 comments Mod
The Beak of the Finch: A Story of Evolution in Our Time

The Beak of the Finch A Story of Evolution in Our Time by Jonathan Weiner Jonathan WeinerJonathan Weiner

On a desert island in the heart of the Galapagos archipelago, where Darwin received his first inklings of the theory of evolution, two scientists, Peter and Rosemary Grant, have spent twenty years proving that Darwin did not know the strength of his own theory. For among the finches of Daphne Major, natural selection is neither rare nor slow: it is taking place by the hour, and we can watch.

In this dramatic story of groundbreaking scientific research, Jonathan Weiner follows these scientists as they watch Darwin's finches and come up with a new understanding of life itself. The Beak of the Finch is an elegantly written and compelling masterpiece of theory and explication in the tradition of Stephen Jay Gould

Awards:

Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction (1995)


message 6: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 33788 comments Mod
Darwin's Dangerous Idea

Darwin's Dangerous Idea Evolution and the Meanings of Life by Daniel C. Dennett Daniel C. DennettDaniel C. Dennett

Publisher's Synopsis:

In a book that is both groundbreaking and accessible, Daniel C. Dennett, whom Chet Raymo of The Boston Globe calls "one of the most provocative thinkers on the planet," focuses his unerringly logical mind on the theory of natural selection, showing how Darwin's great idea transforms and illuminates our traditional view of humanity's place in the universe. Dennett vividly describes the theory itself and then extends Darwin's vision with impeccable arguments to their often surprising conclusions, challenging the views of some of the most famous scientists of our day.


message 7: by Chaynyth (new)

Chaynyth (yknots) The Song of the Dodo Island Biogeography in an Age of Extinction by David QuammenDavid Quammen
Island biogeography mostly, but also a large section of the book detailing how evolution ties into biogeography and population distribution. Author also covers the differences between Darwin's theory and Wallace's theories on evolution.

Stephen Jay GouldStephen Jay Gould
Many works by this author would apply to evolution. Especially his collections of essays. But much of natural history is concerned with evolution and its effects.


message 8: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 33788 comments Mod
Thank you Jane, these are great adds.


message 9: by Chaynyth (new)

Chaynyth (yknots) *chuckle* If you ever get a section on farming/agriculture, watch out, I might flood the thread! ;)


message 10: by Eric (last edited Mar 01, 2012 11:49PM) (new)

Eric (er-ic) descriptiondescriptionCarl Sagan

This book contains Carl Sagan's thoughts on the evolution of human intelligence. I'm reading this right now, and I believe that Sagan's use of somewhat ordinary language makes this an interesting and informing read.


message 11: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 33788 comments Mod
Good job Eric with the citation, and that author/scientist was a giant. A great loss.


message 12: by Bea (new)

Bea | 1836 comments I fell in love with Alfred Russell Wallace while reading "The Song of the Dodo", cited above by Judy, and I can't wait to get to know him better. This looks like a good biography.

Goodreads blurb:

In 1858, Alfred Russel Wallace, aged thirty-five, weak with malaria, isolated in the Spice Islands, wrote to Charles Darwin: he had, he said excitedly, worked out a theory of natural selection. Darwin was aghast--his work of decades was about to be scooped. Within two weeks, his outline and Wallace's paper were presented jointly in London. A year later, with Wallace still on the opposite side of the globe, Darwin published "On the Origin of Species."

This new biography of Wallace traces the development of one of the most remarkable scientific travelers, naturalists, and thinkers of the nineteenth century. With vigor and sensitivity, Peter Raby reveals his subject as a courageous, unconventional explorer and a man of exceptional humanity. He draws more extensively on Wallace's correspondence than has any previous biographer and offers a revealing yet balanced account of the relationship between Wallace and Darwin.

Wallace lacked Darwin's advantages. A largely self-educated native of Wales, he spent four years in the Amazon in his mid-twenties collecting specimens for museums and wealthy patrons, only to lose his finds in a shipboard fire in the mid-Atlantic. He vowed never to travel again. Yet two years later he was off to the East Indies on a vast eight-year trek; here he discovered countless species and identified the point of divide between Asian and Australian fauna, 'Wallace's Line.'

After his return, he plunged into numerous controversies and published regularly until his death at the age of ninety, in 1913. He penned a classic volume on his travels, founded the discipline of biogeography, promoted natural selection, and produced a distinctive account of mind and consciousness in man. Sensitive and self-effacing, he was an ardent socialist--and spiritualist. Wallace is one of the neglected giants of the history of science and ideas. This stirring biography--the first for many years--puts him back at center stage, where he belongs.

Alfred Russel Wallace A Life by Peter Raby by Peter Raby (no photo)

Infinite Tropics An Alfred Russel Wallace Collection by Andrew BerryAndrew Berry(no photo) Alfred Russel WallaceAlfred Russel Wallace

The Song of the Dodo Island Biogeography in an Age of Extinction by David Quammen by David QuammenDavid Quammen


message 13: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 33788 comments Mod
Terrific add Bea.


message 14: by Kathy (new)

Kathy (Kathy_H) Bentley wrote: "The Beak of the Finch: A Story of Evolution in Our Time

The Beak of the Finch A Story of Evolution in Our Time by Jonathan WeinerJonathan WeinerJonathan Weiner

On a desert island i..."


Another book I've been meaning to read for a while.


message 15: by Peter (new)

Peter Flom | 1192 comments Kathy wrote: "Bentley wrote: "The Beak of the Finch: A Story of Evolution in Our Time

The Beak of the Finch A Story of Evolution in Our Time by Jonathan WeinerJonathan WeinerJonathan Weiner

On a..."


It was wonderful. Highly recommended. Evolution is happening, now, in real time, observably.


message 16: by Kathy (last edited Jun 25, 2013 10:45AM) (new)

Kathy (Kathy_H) The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution

The Greatest Show on Earth The Evidence for Evolution by Richard Dawkins by Richard DawkinsRichard Dawkins

Synopsis:

Richard Dawkins transformed our view of God in his blockbuster, The God Delusion, which sold more than 2 million copies in English alone. He revolutionized the way we see natural selection in the seminal bestseller The Selfish Gene. Now, he launches a fierce counterattack against proponents of "Intelligent Design" in his latest New York Times bestseller, The Greatest Show on Earth. "Intelligent Design" is being taught in our schools; educators are being asked to "teach the controversy" behind evolutionary theory. There is no controversy. Dawkins sifts through rich layers of scientific evidence—from living examples of natural selection to clues in the fossil record; from natural clocks that mark the vast epochs wherein evolution ran its course to the intricacies of developing embryos; from plate tectonics to molecular genetics—to make the airtight case that "we find ourselves perched on one tiny twig in the midst of a blossoming and flourishing tree of life and it is no accident, but the direct consequence of evolution by non-random selection." His unjaded passion for the natural world turns what might have been a negative argument, exposing the absurdities of the creationist position, into a positive offering to the reader: nothing less than a master’s vision of life, in all its splendor.


message 17: by Peter (new)

Peter Flom | 1192 comments Kathy wrote: "The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution

The Greatest Show on Earth The Evidence for Evolution by Richard Dawkins by Richard DawkinsRichard Dawkins

Synopsis

Richard..."


Dawkins is great at writing about evolution and related issues. One of the clearest science writers around, I think.

(His writings on atheism are another matter - I don't find them as good, even though I am also an atheist)


message 18: by Kathy (last edited Jun 23, 2013 01:06PM) (new)

Kathy (Kathy_H) In the News
A bit older, but interesting.

December 2012

Whizzing down the interstate, the sounds that concern most of us include the radio's tuning, conversation with our fellow passengers, and, of course, the ominous howl of a siren approaching from behind. But just outside the car door, the soundscape is quite different. On busy thoroughfares, traffic noise approximates a non-stop, low-pitched roar that necessitates shouting to communicate if one is unlucky enough to need to change a tire at the side of the road. Now, new research shows that it is not just humans who strain to be heard over the din of a highway ...

Where's the evolution?
Many animals use sound to communicate, especially when it comes to wooing the opposite sex. But what's a male frog to do when his sexy croaks are drowned out by passing semis? Past research has shown that some frogs and other vertebrates are able to change their calls in ways that help compensate for traffic noise. Biologists from the University of Bielefeld in Germany wanted to find out if the same is true of insects. The results of their study were published last month.

The researchers focused on the grasshopper species Chorthippus biguttulus. To attract females, male grasshoppers rub their hind legs over a vein on their wings, producing a buzzing call that females use to locate and select their mates. In C. biguttulus, the male's song is a two-part harmony composed of some low pitches and some high ones. These harmonics are important: songs with only one set of pitches are not as attractive to females as are songs with both. Unfortunately for roadside Romeos, the low pitches in their calls overlap with the pitches at which traffic noise is quite loud, raising the possibility that highway noise is scrambling a key line of communication in this species — and putting a real damper on the pick-up scene!

Chorthippus biguttulus
To find out if the grasshoppers have changed their tunes due to a noisy environment, the researchers collected C. biguttulus individuals living at eight sites along German autobahns, spots so noisy that the traffic drowned out their calls and the researchers had to locate the insects by sight alone. The biologists also collected C. biguttulus individuals living in quiet habitats a few kilometers away from each of these sites. Back in the lab, under quiet conditions, the songs of all the males were recorded and compared to see if they had different characteristics.

Most aspects of the songs of males from noisy and quiet environments were the same: the structures of both sets of songs were similar, and they were produced at about the same degree of loudness. But there was one key difference. Grasshoppers collected from roadside populations produced songs with low pitches that were slightly higher than the low pitches produced by grasshoppers from quiet fields. The biologists hypothesize that this shift enables roadside females to distinguish the low pitches in the males' calls from ambient noise.
(Source: http://evolution.berkeley.edu/evolibr...)


message 19: by Kathy (new)

Kathy (Kathy_H) The Lost World of Fossil Lake: Snapshots from Deep Time

The Lost World of Fossil Lake Snapshots from Deep Time by Lance Grande by Lance Grande (no photo)

Synopsis:

The landscape of southwestern Wyoming around the ghost town of Fossil is beautiful but harsh; a dry, high mountain desert with cool nights and long, cold winters inhabited by a sparse mountain desert community. But during the early Eocene, more than fifty million years ago, it was a subtropical lake, surrounded by volcanoes and forests and teeming with life. Buried within the sun-baked limestone is spectacular evidence of the lush vegetation and plentiful fauna of the ancient past, a transitional ecosystem giving us clues to how North America recovered from a great extinction event that wiped out dinosaurs and the majority of all species on the planet.

Paleontologists have been conducting excavations at Fossil Butte for more than 150 years, and with The Lost World of Fossil Lake, one of the world’s leading experts on the fossils from this spectacular locality takes readers on a fascinating journey through the history of the discovery and exploration of the site. Deftly mixing incredible color photographs of the remarkable fossils uncovered at the site with an explanation of their evolutionary significance, Grande presents an unprecedented, comprehensive portrait of the site, its treasures, and what we’ve learned from them. Grande presents a broad range of fossilized organisms from Fossil Lake—from single-celled algae to palm trees to crocodiles—and together they make this long-extinct community come to life in all its diversity and splendor. A field guide and atlas round out the book, enabling readers to identify and classify the majority of the known fossils from the site.

Lavishly produced in full color, The Lost World of Fossil Lake is a stunning reminder of the intellectual and physical beauty of scientific investigation—and a breathtaking window onto our planet’s long-lost past.


message 20: by Kathy (new)

Kathy (Kathy_H) Probably Approximately Correct: Nature's Algorithms for Learning and Prospering in a Complex World

Probably Approximately Correct Nature's Algorithms for Learning and Prospering in a Complex World by Leslie Valiant by Leslie Valiant (no photo)

Synopsis:

From a leading computer scientist, a unifying theory that will revolutionize our understanding of how life evolves and learns.

How does life prosper in a complex and erratic world? While we know that nature follows patterns—such as the law of gravity—our everyday lives are beyond what known science can predict. We nevertheless muddle through even in the absence of theories of how to act. But how do we do it?

In Probably Approximately Correct, computer scientist Leslie Valiant presents a masterful synthesis of learning and evolution to show how both individually and collectively we not only survive, but prosper in a world as complex as our own. The key is “probably approximately correct” algorithms, a concept Valiant developed to explain how effective behavior can be learned. The model shows that pragmatically coping with a problem can provide a satisfactory solution in the absence of any theory of the problem. After all, finding a mate does not require a theory of mating. Valiant’s theory reveals the shared computational nature of evolution and learning, and sheds light on perennial questions such as nature versus nurture and the limits of artificial intelligence.

Offering a powerful and elegant model that encompasses life’s complexity, Probably Approximately Correct has profound implications for how we think about behavior, cognition, biological evolution, and the possibilities and limits of human and machine intelligence.


message 21: by Jill (new)

Jill Hutchinson (Bucs1960) The Scopes "Monkey" trial captivated the nation as it pitted two of the great orators of the 20th century against each other;.....Clarence Darrow vs William Jennings Bryan....and challenged the theory of evolution. Darrow for the defense lost the case but his arguments have gone down in history and he pretty much made a fool of Bryan, who died one day after the end of the trial.

Monkey Business; True Story of the Scopes Trial

Monkey Business True Story of the Scopes Trial by John Perry by John Perry (no photo)

Synopsis:
The Scopes Monkey Trial in Dayton, Tennessee was a watershed moment in the history of this country. The ramifications of those proceedings are still being felt today. However, it is not necessarily the arguments from the courtroom floor that are reverberating in the halls of America today. The way the entire event was conducted and perceived by the rest of the nation set the tone for how creationists and evolutionists have been viewed by society ever since. Marvin Olasky and John Perry tell the true story in Monkey Business. Most people have a misunderstanding of what happened based on slanted newspaper reporting accounts of H. L. Menken, who made fun of creationists. As a result, the case for creationism has been crippled in the eyes of society. But this account of what happened is far from accurate. Monkey Business will offer the facts of the story and an apologetic for divine creation.


message 22: by Kathy (new)

Kathy (Kathy_H) Good add, Jill. Another one for my TBR list.


message 23: by Peter (new)

Peter Flom | 1192 comments Jill wrote: "The Scopes "Monkey" trial captivated the nation as it pitted two of the great orators of the 20th century against each other;.....Clarence Darrow vs William Jennings Bryan....and challenged the the..."

Indeed, having read quite a bit about this trial here and there, the arguments made by Darrow and Bryan were not really new. But the fact that two of the most eminent (perhaps *the* most) lawyers in the nation were debating it and not in (say) New York but in the Bible belt.

As for Mencken - well, Mencken mocked everyone, not just in this trial but in most of his newspaper columns and reporting (the only exception to this that I know of is his book American Language by H.L. Mencken by H.L. MenckenH.L. Mencken


message 24: by Kathy (new)

Kathy (Kathy_H) Life Ascending: The Ten Great Inventions of Evolution

Life Ascending The Ten Great Inventions of Evolution by Nick Lane by Nick Lane (no photo)

Synopsis:

A renowned biochemist draws on cutting-edge scientific findings to construct the mosaic of life’s astounding history.

How did life invent itself? Where did DNA come from? How did consciousness develop? Powerful new research methods are providing vivid insights into the makeup of life. Comparing gene sequences, examining atomic structures of proteins, and looking into the geochemistry of rocks have helped explain evolution in more detail than ever before. Nick Lane expertly reconstructs the history of life by describing the ten greatest inventions of evolution (including DNA, photosynthesis, sex, and sight), based on their historical impact, role in organisms today, and relevance to current controversies. Who would have guessed that eyes started off as light-sensitive spots used to calibrate photosynthesis in algae? Or that DNA’s building blocks form spontaneously in hydrothermal vents?

Lane gives a gripping, lucid account of nature’s ingenuity, and the result is a work of essential reading for anyone who has ever pondered or questioned the science underlying evolution’s greatest gifts to man.


message 25: by Jill (new)

Jill Hutchinson (Bucs1960) The man who challenged the Christian ethic of creationism through his theory of evolution, this book covers his early life and his voyages on the Beagle.

Charles Darwin: Voyaging

Charles Darwin Voyaging by E. Janet Browne by E. Janet Browne (no photo)

Synopsis;

Few lives of great men offer so much interest--and so many mysteries--as the life of Charles Darwin, the greatest figure of nineteenth-century science, whose ideas are still inspiring discoveries and controversies more than a hundred years after his death. Yet only now, with the publication of Voyaging, the first of two volumes that will constitute the definitive biography, do we have a truly vivid and comprehensive picture of Darwin as man and as scientist. Drawing upon much new material, supported by an unmatched acquaintance with both the intellectual setting and the voluminous sources, Janet Browne has at last been able to unravel the central enigma of Darwin's career: how did this amiable young gentleman, born into a prosperous provincial English family, grow into a thinker capable of challenging the most basic principles of religion and science? The dramatic story of Voyaging takes us from agonizing personal challenges to the exhilaration of discovery; we see a young, inquisitive Darwin gradually mature, shaping, refining, and finally setting forth the ideas that would at last fall upon the world like a thunderclap in The Origin of Species.Few lives of great men offer so much interest--and so many mysteries--as the life of Charles Darwin, the greatest figure of nineteenth-century science, whose ideas are still inspiring discoveries and controversies more than a hundred years after his death. Yet only now, with the publication of Voyaging, the first of two volumes that will constitute the definitive biography, do we have a truly vivid and comprehensive picture of Darwin as man and as scientist. Drawing upon much new material, supported by an unmatched acquaintance with both theintellectual setting and the voluminous sources, Janet Browne has at last been able to unravel the central enigma of Darwin's career: how did this amiable young gentleman, born into a prosperous provincial English family, grow into a thinker capable of challenging the most basic principles of religion and science? The dramatic story of Voyaging takes us from agonizing personal challenges to the exhilaration of discovery; we see a young, inquisitive Darwin gradually mature, shaping, refining, and finally setting forth the ideas that would at last fall upon the world like a thunderclap in The Origin of Species.


message 26: by Peter (new)

Peter Flom | 1192 comments Taking a different tack on the "Evolution" thread, what about books that posit the next step in evolution? e.g. one of my favorite SF books

More Than Human by Theodore Sturgeon by Theodore Sturgeon Theodore Sturgeon

Synopsis:
There's Lone, the simpleton who can hear other people's thoughts and make a man blow his brains out just by looking at him. There's Janie, who moves things without touching them, and there are the teleporting twins, who can travel ten feet or ten miles. There's Baby, who invented an antigravity engine while still in the cradle, and Gerry, who has everything it takes to run the world except for a conscience. Seperately, they are talented freaks.Together, they compose a single organism that may represent the next step in evolution, and the final chapter in the history of the human race.

In this genre-bending novel- among the first to have launched sci fi into the arena of literature -one of the great imaginers of the twentieth century tells a story as mind-blowing as any controlled substance and as affecting as a glimpse into a stranger's soul. For as the protagonists of More Than Human struggle to find who they are and whether they are meant to help humanity or destroy it. Theodore Sturgeon explores questions of power and morality, individuality and belonging, with suspense, pathos, and a lyricism rarely seen in science fiction.


message 27: by Kathy (new)

Kathy (Kathy_H) Written in Stone: Evolution, the Fossil Record, and Our Place in Nature

Written in Stone Evolution, the Fossil Record, and Our Place in Nature by Brian Switek by Brian Switek (no photo)

Synopsis:

In this thoroughly entertaining science history, Switek combines a deep knowledge of the fossil record with a Holmesian compulsion to investigate the myriad ways evolutionary discoveries have been made. Just one chapter encompasses an 1817 Amazon expedition, Richard Owen and London’s Natural History Museum, the musings of Darwin, an array of late nineteenth- and twentieth-century naturalists, some digs in Greenland, and paleontologist Jenny Clack’s 1980 research in old field notebooks and a trip to the Sedgewick Museum basement. All of this leads in a roundabout way to the 2006 discovery of Tiktaalik: a fish with a critical position in the record between fins and fingers. From there Switek moves on to “footprints and feathers” and a dozen other topics that all further his mission of exploring natural history and portraying the scientists who spent their lives asking questions and finding answers. It’s poetry, serendipity, and smart entertainment because Switek has found the sweet spot between academic treatise and pop culture, a literary locale that is a godsend to armchair explorers everywhere.


message 28: by Kathy (new)

Kathy (Kathy_H) My Beloved Brontosaurus: On the Road with Old Bones, New Science, and Our Favorite Dinosaurs

My Beloved Brontosaurus On the Road with Old Bones, New Science, and Our Favorite Dinosaurs by Brian Switek by Brian Switek (no photo)

Synopsis:

Dinosaurs, with their awe-inspiring size, terrifying claws and teeth, and otherworldly abilities, occupy a sacred place in our childhoods. They loom over museum halls, thunder through movies, and are a fundamental part of our collective imagination. In My Beloved Brontosaurus, the dinosaur fanatic Brian Switek enriches the childlike sense of wonder these amazing creatures instill in us. Investigating the latest discoveries in paleontology, he breathes new life into old bones.

Switek reunites us with these mysterious creatures as he visits desolate excavation sites and hallowed museum vaults, exploring everything from the sex life of Apatosaurus and T. rex’s feather-laden body to just why dinosaurs vanished. (And of course, on his journey, he celebrates the book’s titular hero, “Brontosaurus”—who suffered a second extinction when we learned he never existed at all—as a symbol of scientific progress.)

With infectious enthusiasm, Switek questions what we’ve long held to be true about these beasts, weaving in stories from his obsession with dinosaurs, which started when he was just knee-high to a Stegosaurus. Endearing, surprising, and essential to our understanding of our own evolution and our place on Earth, My Beloved Brontosaurus is a book that dinosaur fans and anyone interested in scientific progress will cherish for years to come.


message 29: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 33788 comments Mod
Great adds Kathy. Very good.


message 30: by Kathy (last edited Aug 23, 2013 09:43PM) (new)

Kathy (Kathy_H) Ever Since Darwin: Reflections in Natural History

Ever Since Darwin Reflections in Natural History by Stephen Jay Gould by Stephen Jay GouldStephen Jay Gould

Synopsis:

Ever Since Darwin, Stephen Jay Gould's first book, has sold more than a quarter of a million copies. Like all succeeding collections by this unique writer, it brings the art of the scientific essay to unparalleled heights.

A shrewd and learned intellectual whose essays on Charles Darwin have the style and address of what in other circumstances might be the writing of a literary critic upon Stendhal or Proust or other such major figure in the world of letters.

A remarkable achievement by any measure. [Gould] is profoundly intelligent, a writer of great natural wit, and his sophistication and learning range far beyond the parameters of his academic field, biology. . . . One is hard pressed to single out past writers who could wear the sobriquet of natural history essayist with such distinction.

Charles DarwinCharles Darwin
StendhalStendhal
Marcel ProustMarcel Proust


message 31: by Kathy (new)

Kathy (Kathy_H) Evolution: The History of an Idea

Evolution The History of an Idea by Peter J. Bowler by Peter J. Bowler (no photo)

Synopsis:

Since its original publication in 1983, Evolution: The History of an Idea has been recognized as a comprehensive and authoritative source on the development and impact of this most controversial of scientific theories. This new edition has been entirely rewritten to take account of the latest work of historians and scientists. The sequence of chapters has been reconstructed in a way that will help students and general readers to understand the key phases in the development of modern evolutionism. The book's substantial bibliography has been updated to serve as a valuable introduction to the immense literature on this topic.


message 32: by Kathy (new)

Kathy (Kathy_H) Into The Jungle: Great Adventures in the Search for Evolution

Into the Jungle Great Adventures in the Search for Evolution by Sean B. Carroll by Sean B. Carroll (no photo)

Synopsis:

These nine short tales vividly depict key discoveries in evolutionary biology and the excitement of the scientific process.

Each chapter focuses on the adventures of a different individual - Darwin in the first (of course), followed by Wallace, Bates, Dubois with his Java man, Chapman and his amazing excursion for fossils to China, the Alvarezes and the asteroid impact theory of extinction, Courtenay-Latimer & Smith of coelacanth fame, Tony Allison & the safari to examine the sickle-cell gene story, and last, DeVries and others associated with the ice fish phenomenon.

And adventures they have indeed. The stories are told in a delightfully vivid prose that makes the individuals and the times they lived in really come alive. All this while still having each chapter point out the scientific impact of each of these unique adventures.


message 34: by Kathy (new)

Kathy (Kathy_H) Thanks Donald. It was certainly an interesting age at the time. And this book sounds very interesting.

Your citation should like this:
Banquet at Delmonico's Great Minds, the Gilded Age, and the Triumph of Evolution in America by Barry Werth by Barry Werth (no photo)


message 35: by Kathy (new)

Kathy (Kathy_H) A Feathered River Across the Sky: The Passenger Pigeon's Flight to Extinction

A Feathered River Across the Sky The Passenger Pigeon's Flight to Extinction by Joel Greenberg by Joel GreenbergJoel Greenberg

Synopsis:

In the early nineteenth century 25 to 40 percent of North America’s birds were passenger pigeons, traveling in flocks so massive as to block out the sun for hours or even days. The down beats of their wings would chill the air beneath and create a thundering roar that would drown out all other sound. Feeding flocks would appear as “a blue wave four or five feet high rolling toward you.”

John James Audubon, impressed by their speed and agility, said a lone passenger pigeon streaking through the forest “passes like a thought.” How prophetic—for although a billion pigeons streamed over Toronto in May of 1860, little more than fifty years later passenger pigeons were extinct. The last of the species, Martha, died in captivity at the Cincinnati Zoo on September 1, 1914.

As naturalist Joel Greenberg relates in gripping detail, the pigeons’ propensity to nest, roost, and fly together in vast numbers made them vulnerable to unremitting market and recreational hunting. The spread of railroads and telegraph lines created national markets that allowed the birds to be pursued relentlessly. Passenger pigeons inspired awe in the likes of Audubon, Henry David Thoreau, James Fenimore Cooper, and others, but no serious effort was made to protect the species until it was way too late. Greenberg’s beautifully written story of the passenger pigeon provides a cautionary tale of what happens when species and natural resources are not harvested sustainably.

John James AudubonJohn James Audubon
Henry David ThoreauHenry David Thoreau
James Fenimore CooperJames Fenimore Cooper


message 36: by Kathy (new)

Kathy (Kathy_H) The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History

The Sixth Extinction An Unnatural History by Elizabeth Kolbert by Elizabeth KolbertElizabeth Kolbert

Synopsis:

A major book about the future of the world, blending intellectual and natural history and field reporting into a powerful account of the mass extinction unfolding before our eyes

Over the last half a billion years, there have been five mass extinctions, when the diversity of life on earth suddenly and dramatically contracted. Scientists around the world are currently monitoring the sixth extinction, predicted to be the most devastating extinction event since the asteroid impact that wiped out the dinosaurs. This time around, the cataclysm is us. In The Sixth Extinction, two-time winner of the National Magazine Award and New Yorker writer Elizabeth Kolbert draws on the work of scores of researchers in half a dozen disciplines, accompanying many of them into the field: geologists who study deep ocean cores, botanists who follow the tree line as it climbs up the Andes, marine biologists who dive off the Great Barrier Reef. She introduces us to a dozen species, some already gone, others facing extinction, including the Panamian golden frog, staghorn coral, the great auk, and the Sumatran rhino. Through these stories, Kolbert provides a moving account of the disappearances occurring all around us and traces the evolution of extinction as concept, from its first articulation by Georges Cuvier in revolutionary Paris up through the present day. The sixth extinction is likely to be mankind's most lasting legacy; as Kolbert observes, it compels us to rethink the fundamental question of what it means to be human.


message 37: by Kathy (new)

Kathy (Kathy_H) The Accidental Species: Misunderstandings of Human Evolution

The Accidental Species Misunderstandings of Human Evolution by Henry Gee by Henry GeeHenry Gee

Synopsis:

The idea of a missing link between humanity and our animal ancestors predates evolution and popular science and actually has religious roots in the deist concept of the Great Chain of Being. Yet, the metaphor has lodged itself in the contemporary imagination, and new fossil discoveries are often hailed in headlines as revealing the elusive transitional step, the moment when we stopped being “animal” and started being “human.” In The Accidental Species, Henry Gee, longtime paleontology editor at Nature, takes aim at this misleading notion, arguing that it reflects a profound misunderstanding of how evolution works and, when applied to the evolution of our own species, supports mistaken ideas about our own place in the universe.

Gee presents a robust and stark challenge to our tendency to see ourselves as the acme of creation. Far from being a quirk of religious fundamentalism, human exceptionalism, Gee argues, is an error that also infects scientific thought. Touring the many features of human beings that have recurrently been used to distinguish us from the rest of the animal world, Gee shows that our evolutionary outcome is one possibility among many, one that owes more to chance than to an organized progression to supremacy. He starts with bipedality, which he shows could have arisen entirely by accident, as a by-product of sexual selection, moves on to technology, large brain size, intelligence, language, and, finally, sentience. He reveals each of these attributes to be alive and well throughout the animal world—they are not, indeed, unique to our species.

The Accidental Species combines Gee’s firsthand experience on the editorial side of many incredible paleontological findings with healthy skepticism and humor to create a book that aims to overturn popular thinking on human evolution—the key is not what’s missing, but how we’re linked.


message 38: by Jill (new)

Jill Hutchinson (Bucs1960) The trial of the century pitted Clarence Darrow representing school teacher John Scopes who taught evolution against the God-fearing firebrand, William Jennings Bryan. Although Darrow lost, he basically made a mockery of Bryan. And who better to report than the sardonic genius, H.L. Mencken. This book is worth your while, regardless of which side you are on.

A Religious Orgey in Tennessee: A Reporter's Account of the Scopes Monkey Trial

A Religious Orgy in Tennessee A Reporter's Account of the Scopes Monkey Trial by H.L. Mencken by H.L. MenckenH.L. Mencken

Synopsis

"The native American Voltaire, the enemy of all puritans, the heretic in the Sunday school, the one-man demolition crew of the genteel tradition." -Alistair Cooke on H.L. Mencken

Fiercely intelligent, scathingly honest, and hysterically funny, H.L. Mencken’s coverage of the Scopes Monkey Trial so galvanized the nation that it eventually inspired a Broadway play and the classic Hollywood movie Inherit the Wind.

Mencken’s no-nonsense sensibility is still exciting: his perceptive rendering of the courtroom drama; his piercing portrayals of key figures Scopes, Clarence Darrow, and William Jennings Bryan; his ferocious take on the fundamentalist culture surrounding it all—including a raucous midnight trip into the woods to witness a secret “holy roller” service.

Shockingly, these reports have never been gathered together into a book of their own—until now.

A Religious Orgy In Tennessee includes all of Mencken’s reports for The Baltimore Sun, The Nation, and The American Mercury. It even includes his coverage of Bryan’s death just days after the trial—an obituary so withering Mencken was forced by his editors to rewrite it, angering him and leading him to rewrite it yet again in a third version even less forgiving than the first. All three versions are included, as is a complete transcript of the trial’s most legendary exchange: Darrow’s blistering cross-examination of Bryan.

With the rise of “intelligent design,” H.L. Mencken’s work has never seemed more unnervingly timely—or timeless


message 39: by Kathy (last edited Mar 31, 2014 09:16AM) (new)

Kathy (Kathy_H) Evolution: The History of an Idea

Evolution The History of an Idea by Peter J. Bowler by Peter J. Bowler (no photo)

Synopsis:

Since its original publication in 1989, Evolution: The History of an Idea has been recognized as a comprehensive and authoritative source on the development and impact of this most controversial of scientific theories. This twentieth anniversary edition is updated with a new preface examining recent scholarship and trends within the study of evolution.


message 40: by Kathy (new)

Kathy (Kathy_H) Evolution: The Triumph of an Idea

Evolution The Triumph of an Idea by Carl Zimmer by Carl ZimmerCarl Zimmer

Synopsis:

This remarkable book presents a rich and up-to-date view of evolution that explores the far-reaching implications of Darwin's theory and emphasizes the power, significance, and relevance of evolution to our lives today. After all, we ourselves are the product of evolution, and we can tackle many of our gravest challenges -- from lethal resurgence of antiobiotic-resistant diseases to the wave of extinctions that looms before us -- with a sound understanding of the science.


message 41: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 33788 comments Mod
Thank you for keeping up your threads. Good job.


message 42: by Kathy (new)

Kathy (Kathy_H) The Oldest Living Things in the World

The Oldest Living Things in the World by Rachel Sussman by Rachel Sussman (no photo)

Synopsis:

The Oldest Living Things in the World is an epic journey through time and space. Over the past decade, artist Rachel Sussman has researched, worked with biologists, and traveled the world to photograph continuously living organisms that are 2,000 years old and older. Spanning from Antarctica to Greenland, the Mojave Desert to the Australian Outback, the result is a stunning and unique visual collection of ancient organisms unlike anything that has been created in the arts or sciences before, insightfully and accessibly narrated by Sussman along the way.

Her work is both timeless and timely, and spans disciplines, continents, and millennia. It is underscored by an innate environmentalism and driven by Sussman’s relentless curiosity. She begins at “year zero,” and looks back from there, photographing the past in the present. These ancient individuals live on every continent and range from Greenlandic lichens that grow only one centimeter a century, to unique desert shrubs in Africa and South America, a predatory fungus in Oregon, Caribbean brain coral, to an 80,000-year-old colony of aspen in Utah. Sussman journeyed to Antarctica to photograph 5,500-year-old moss; Australia for stromatolites, primeval organisms tied to the oxygenation of the planet and the beginnings of life on Earth; and to Tasmania to capture a 43,600-year-old self-propagating shrub that’s the last individual of its kind. Her portraits reveal the living history of our planet—and what we stand to lose in the future. These ancient survivors have weathered millennia in some of the world’s most extreme environments, yet climate change and human encroachment have put many of them in danger. Two of her subjects have already met with untimely deaths by human hands.

Alongside the photographs, Sussman relays fascinating – and sometimes harrowing – tales of her global adventures tracking down her subjects and shares insights from the scientists who research them. The oldest living things in the world are a record and celebration of the past, a call to action in the present, and a barometer of our future.


message 43: by Kathy (new)

Kathy (Kathy_H) Animal Architecture

Animal Architecture by Ingo Arndt by Ingo Arndt (no photo)

Synopsis:

Every day, all over the world, animals and insects set about the purposeful tasks of designing their homes, catching their prey, and attracting their mates. In the process they create gorgeous nests, shelters, and habitats. Capturing 120 of these wonders in all their beauty and complexity, Animal Architecture presents a visually arresting tribute to the intersection of nature, science, function, and design.

Ingo Arndt’s stunning studio photographs and vibrant in-situ shots of nests, forests, and wetlands provide close-up details of these designs, as well as the animals who created them. These compelling images are com­bined with an abundance of fascinating facts about the evolution of animals and insects, as well as their survival methods, mating habits, genetic dispositions, and more.


message 44: by Kathy (new)

Kathy (Kathy_H) Why Evolution Is True

Why Evolution Is True by Jerry A. Coyne by Jerry A. CoyneJerry A. Coyne

Synopsis:

In the current debate about creationism and intelligent design, there is an element of the controversy that is rarely mentioned-the evidence. Yet the proof of evolution by natural selection is vast, varied, and magnificent. In this succinct and accessible summary of the facts supporting the theory of natural selection, Jerry A. Coyne dispels common misunderstandings and fears about evolution and clearly confirms the scientific truth that supports this amazing process of change. Weaving together the many threads of modern work in genetics, paleontology, geology, molecular biology, and anatomy that demonstrate the "indelible stamp" of the processes first proposed by Darwin, Why Evolution Is True does not aim to prove creationism wrong. Rather, by using irrefutable evidence, it sets out to prove evolution right.

Charles DarwinCharles Darwin


message 45: by Kathy (new)

Kathy (Kathy_H) Darwin: A Graphic Biography

Darwin A Graphic Biography by Eugene Byrne by Eugene Byrne (no photo)

Synopsis:

Darwin: A Graphic Biography is an inspiring expedition into the physical and intellectual adventures of Charles Darwin. Presenting Darwin's life in a smart and entertaining graphic novel, Darwin: A Graphic Biography attempts to not only educate the reader about Darwin but also the scientific world of the 1800s. The graphic medium is ideal for recreating a very specific time frame, succeeding in placing the reader right next to a young Darwin on a "beetling" expedition. With specimens in both hands, and anxious to get another, Darwin ends up stuffing the third beetle into his mouth. Darwin's life presented in this form is an inspirational tale for kids of all ages. They'll be sure to identify with a curious young Darwin finding his way on youthful adventures in the fields near his house. The ups, downs, and near-misses of Darwin's youth are portrayed honestly and without foreshadowing of his later fame. This is a key point for younger readers: that Darwin wasn't somehow predestined to greatness. He was curious, patient, and meticulous. He persevered--a great lesson about what science is all about.


message 46: by Jimmy (new)

Jimmy  | 155 comments Excellent work here, Kathy.


message 47: by Kathy (last edited May 17, 2014 08:21AM) (new)

Kathy (Kathy_H) Thanks, I wish I had time to read all the books that I find. :)


message 48: by Kathy (new)

Kathy (Kathy_H) Darwin's Doubt: The Explosive Origin of Animal Life and the Case for Intelligent Design

Darwin's Doubt The Explosive Origin of Animal Life and the Case for Intelligent Design by Stephen C. Meyer by Stephen C. MeyerStephen C. Meyer

Synopsis:

When Charles Darwin finished The Origin of Species, he thought that he had explained every clue, but one. Though his theory could explain many facts, Darwin knew that there was a significant event in the history of life that his theory did not explain. During this event, the “Cambrian explosion,” many animals suddenly appeared in the fossil record without apparent ancestors in earlier layers of rock.

In Darwin’s Doubt, Stephen C. Meyer tells the story of the mystery surrounding this explosion of animal life—a mystery that has intensified, not only because the expected ancestors of these animals have not been found, but because scientists have learned more about what it takes to construct an animal. During the last half century, biologists have come to appreciate the central importance of biological information—stored in DNA and elsewhere in cells—to building animal forms.

Expanding on the compelling case he presented in his last book, Signature in the Cell, Meyer argues that the origin of this information, as well as other mysterious features of the Cambrian event, are best explained by intelligent design, rather than purely undirected evolutionary processes.


message 49: by Scott (new)

Scott Chapman (ScottWilliamChapman) It still stuns me that people are willing to accept the half truths and untested assertions behind "intelligent design". There will always be things we are still seeking to understand in science, but that does not mean that an invisible creature with supernatural powers is responsible.

Sad.


message 50: by Zach (new)

Zach | 1 comments Scott: I remember a passage in, I think it was actually Darwin, that the idea that some 'intelligent creator' would create such imperfections as the human body, with its famous blind spot of the human eye as well as a myriad of other problems, is an insult to the very creator. He/She/It doesn't know how to design very well, apparently.


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Books mentioned in this topic

The Origin of Species (other topics)
The Selfish Gene (other topics)
Your Inner Fish: A Journey Into the 3.5-Billion-Year History of the Human Body (other topics)
The Beak of the Finch: A Story of Evolution in Our Time (other topics)
Darwin's Dangerous Idea: Evolution and the Meanings of Life (other topics)
More...

Authors mentioned in this topic

Charles Darwin (other topics)
Richard Dawkins (other topics)
Neil Shubin (other topics)
Jonathan Weiner (other topics)
Daniel C. Dennett (other topics)
More...