This is a new, second edition of Eldrege’s 1991 book, Fossils: The Evolution and Extinction of Species.
Niles Eldredge, Extinction and Evolution: What Fossils Reveal About the History of Life (Buffalo, NY: Firefly Books, 2014), 256 pp
Publisher’s Description Extinction and Evolution recounts the work and discoveries of Niles Eldredge, one of the world’s most renowned paleontologists, whose research overturned Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution as a slow and inevitable process, as published in On the Origin of Species in 1859. Darwin had concluded that evolutionary changes happened very slowly over millions of years. Eldredge’s work, however, convinced him that Darwin was wrong and that major evolution of life forms does not happen to any significant degree until after a mass extinction event, thus disproving the traditional view of evolution. Eldredge’s groundbreaking work is now accepted as the definitive statement of how life as we know it evolved on Earth. This book chronicles how Eldredge made his discoveries and traces the history of life through the lenses of paleontology, geology, ecology, anthropology, biology, genetics, zoology, mammalogy, herpetology, entomology and botany. While rigorously accurate, the text is accessible, engaging and free of jargon. Extinction and Evolution features 160 beautiful color plates that bridge the gap between science and art, and show more than 200 different fossil specimens, including photographs of some of the most significant fossil discoveries of recent years. This is a book with appeal to a broad general audience, including natural history readers and students.
In the news recently, there are two new Charles Darwin statues, and they both depict the young naturalist (yay!).
The Chicago Maroon: Dr. Watson welcomes Darwin statue
Statue at the Biological Sciences Learning Center, Univ. of Chicago (Photo: Frank Wang)
Galapagos Conservation: The Making of Darwin
Statue at the Charles Darwin Research Station, Santa Cruz island, Galapagos
Peter Dear, “Darwin’s Sleepwalkers: Naturalists, Nature, and the Practices of Classification” Historical Studies in the Natural Sciences 44:4 (Sept. 2014): 297-318.
Abstract Darwin used taxonomic arguments widely in his work on transformism and natural selection, especially in attempts to persuade other (typically non-transformist) naturalists of the correctness of his ideas in Origin of Species. But, as has long been noticed, classificatory practices in natural history were by no means turned on their head in the wake of his work. Darwin succeeded in coopting, or else leaving untouched, the taxonomic conclusions of his colleagues, because he needed to use their conclusions as evidence for his transformist views: time and again, he made points by referring to what a typical naturalists would make of things. By telling them that the kind of knowledge that their taxonomy produced was really about genealogical relationships, Darwin tried to tell naturalist that their judgments were correct even though they had not previously known why this was so: they were sleepwalkers, finding their way in the dark, and Darwin would illuminate them. His argumentative style continually attempted to draw existing practices of classification to his assistance, and made the judgments of his colleagues into surrogate phenomena that would provide evidence for his views. Those colleagues thus constituted a society that established nature by its own practices.
Aydin Örstan, “Two early nineteenth-century uses of the term “evolution” to denote biological speciation” Archives of Natural History 41:2 (Oct. 2014): 360-362.
Vassiliki Betty Smocovitis, “Charles Darwin” In Oxford Bibliographies Online: Ecology, 2014.
This is a monumental undertaking – a 24,000 word bibliography looking at Darwin and how he is studied from many angles.
Darwin aficionados have long wondered when the 1978 BBC television series The Voyage of Charles Darwin would be released on DVD. I had a post about this in 2009, here. Well, Simply Media is releasing it in the UK (Region 2) later this month: http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Voyage-Of-Charles-Darwin/dp/B00MFWMPSG
Here’s hoping for a Region 1 release soon!
Diane Ackerman, The Human Age: The World Shaped By Us (New York: W.W. Norton, 2014), 352 pp.
Publisher’s description: Ackerman is justly celebrated for her unique insight into the natural world and our place in it. In this landmark book, she confronts the unprecedented reality that one prodigiously intelligent and meddlesome creature, Homo sapiens, is now the dominant force shaping the future of planet Earth.
Humans have “subdued 75 percent of the land surface, concocted a wizardry of industrial and medical marvels, strung lights all across the darkness.” We tinker with nature at every opportunity; we garden the planet with our preferred species of plants and animals, many of them invasive; and we have even altered the climate, threatening our own extinction. Yet we reckon with our own destructive capabilities in extraordinary acts of hope-filled creativity: we collect the DNA of vanishing species in a “frozen ark,” equip orangutans with iPads, and create wearable technologies and synthetic species that might one day outsmart us. With her distinctive gift for making scientific discovery intelligible to the layperson, Ackerman takes us on an exhilarating journey through our new reality, introducing us to many of the people and ideas now creating—perhaps saving—our future and that of our fellow creatures.
A beguiling, optimistic engagement with the changes affecting every part of our lives, The Human Age is a wise and beautiful book that will astound, delight, and inform intelligent life for a long time to come.