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on 21 January 2009
Stephen Jay Gould, Professor of Geology & Zoology at Harvard University, has written a small library of books, which comprise a rich set of musings on the life science. Reading through them all is a bit of a job, which admittedly I am still working on, but I heartily recommend The Flamingo's Smile. It is a collection of essays with a common theme: the haphazard happenstance of natural selection. In it he explores a range of bizarre oddities of nature, which are incredibly impossible, or throw up conundrums. Consider the snails that change sex, the tubular, now extinct Hallucigenia, which looks like it belongs more in the engine of a racing car, and whether the surface area to volume ratio of dinosaur testicles could have led to their catastrophic demise. This is just to name a few! Gould's style is friendly and approachable, without cheating the reader of technical appreciation. He is a deeply thoughtful human being, with adept skill at communicating the most salient kernel of the issue. This book will widen your appreciation of nature, entertain and inform. I found it all the more moving to realise Gould had written this book whilst contemplating his own mortality- he was seriously ill at the time.
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on 15 September 2005
Great book, starts by explaining why flamingo's beak are shaped as they are and goes on to other animals. Vocabulary stay's comprehensive to the mass public.
After this I bought most of S.Jay Burton's books, I like them all. I advise to read them, that's why I don't have them any more.
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