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Remarkable Creatures


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About the Author

SEAN B. CARROLL is professor of molecular biology and genetics and an investigator with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute at the University of Wisconsin. He is the author of The Making of the Fittest and Endless Forms Most Beautiful: The New Science of Evo Devo, a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and a best science book of the year in Discover magazine and USA Today.


It's unclear whether the title refers to the daring naturalist/explorers Carroll depicts or the creatures whose remains they found. In this thoroughly enjoyable book, Carroll (Endless Forms Most Beautiful), a molecular biologist at the University of Wisconsin, provides vignettes of some of the fascinating people who have made the most significant discoveries in evolutionary biology. He starts with some of the experiences and insights of great explorers like Alexander von Humboldt, Charles Darwin, Alfred Russel Wallace and Henry Walter Bates, then turns his attention to paleontologists who searched for the fossil evidence to support the new theory of evolution. Among them are Eugene Dubois's discovery of Java Man; Charles Walcott's discovery of the Burgess Shale and the evidence it provided for the Cambrian explosion; and Neil Shubin's recent discovery in arctic Canada of Tiktaalik, the intermediary "between water- and land-dwelling vertebrates." Carroll closes with studies of human evolution, from Louis and Mary Leakey to the advances of Linus Pauling and Allan Wilson, which indicated that Neanderthals were cousins of Homo sapiens rather than direct ancestors. While there's little that's new here, Carroll does weave an arresting tapestry of evolutionary advancement. Photos, maps. (Feb. 10) Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

Carroll (genetics, Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison) tracks the journeys of exploration undertaken by Charles Darwin, Alfred Wallace, and Henry Walter Bates, whose discoveries led to the formulation of the theory of evolution, also summarizing key discoveries in paleontology and geology that have further informed our understanding of ancient life. The breadth of material provides adequate background and history for anyone new to this topic and a good summary overview for those already familiar with the subject. Jim Bond's (Going Lean) capable narration is unobtrusive and appropriate to the subject matter, and the audiobook's focus on first-person narratives heightens its overall appeal. Recommended. [Audio clip available through brillianceaudio.com.-Ed.]-Gloria -Maxwell, Metropolitan Community Coll.-Penn Valley Lib., Kansas City, MO Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.

"These scientific adventurers inspire the author--and will do the same for experts and novices alike--with their fearless dedication to getting at the truth, as far as it can be known. A stirring introduction to the wonder of evolutionary biology." --Kirkus Review, 12/15/08

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