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The Darwinian Tourist: Viewing the World Through Evolutionary Eyes Hardcover – November 1, 2010
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Scientific Teaching Series
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In The Darwinian Tourist, biologist Christopher Wills takes us on a series of adventures--exciting in their own right--that demonstrate how ecology and evolution have interacted to create the world we live in.
Some of these adventures, like his SCUBA dives in the incredibly diverse Lembeh Strait in Indonesia or his encounter with a wild wolf cub in western Mongolia, might have been experienced by any reasonably intrepid traveller. Others, like his experience of being hammered by a severe earthquake off the island of Yap while sixty feet down in the ocean, filming manta rays, stand far outside the ordinary. With his own stunning color photographs of the wildlife he discovered on his travels, Wills not only takes us to these far-off places but, more important, draws out the evolutionary stories behind the wildlife and shows how our understanding of the living world can be deepened by a Darwinian perspective. In addition, the book offers an extensive and unusual view of human evolution, examining the entire sweep of our evolutionary story as it has taken place throughout the Old World. The reader comes away with a renewed sense of wonder about the world's astounding diversity, along with a new appreciation of the long evolutionary history that has led to the wonders of the present day. When we lose a species or an ecosystem, Wills shows us, we also lose many millions of years of history.
Published to coincide with the International Year for Biodiversity, The Darwinian Tourist is packed with globe-trotting exploits, brilliant color photography, and eye-opening insights into the evolution of humanity and the natural world. Take a Look Inside The Darwinian Tourist
With his own stunning color photographs of the wildlife he encountered, Wills not only takes us to these far-off places but, more important, draws out the evolutionary stories behind the wildlife and shows how our understanding of the living world can be deepened by a Darwinian perspective.
"Probably this year's most important travel book"
- Conde Nast Traveller
"Wills...offers an armchair world ecotour to the nth degree.... The reader does not need a background in genetics or ecology to appreciate this last lecture-style book...Chock-full of wonderful photographs, this book is strongly recommended for readers seeking insight into their world and the ecological places they visit."
"a stellar new travel book...dense with fascinating knowledge and laugh-out-loud moments...the perfect holiday gift for your globetrotting friends."
"Wills' has written a glorious examination of Earth's lesser known biological fauna and flora, giving this an alien yet welcoming feel."
"The Darwinian Tourist is a great book, which includes engaging discussions of natural history from a very personal point of view. The stories are told effectively in part because of the fantastic photographic work of the author. After reading this volume, one cannot help but wonder what The Voyage of the Beagle would have looked like if Darwin had a digital camera." -- Jay Odenbaugh, The Quarterly Review of Biology
Top Customer Reviews
The book starts with a dive in northern Indonesian waters and encounters with shape-shifting cuttlefish and squid, among many others. Reflecting on the very different evolutions of the eyes of humans and cuttlefish (their vision is far sharper) brings on realization of the immense family tree of all living beings on Earth. You will gain insights every few pages, such as the evidence for a long, slow (we are talking 3000 million years here!) fuse to the so-called "Cambrian explosion" of life forms.
Subsequent chapters detail how natural selection shifts frequencies of various gene varieties (alleles) in addition to the mutations caused by radiation, viruses and DNA copying mistakes. Rather than a grand design, we are all the beneficiaries of nature's re-purposing body structures and gene duplications to live, or extract energy from the ecosystem, to put it another way.
Being caught underwater during a nearby, but fortunately mild, earthquake is grounds for considering the importance of tectonic plate movements. Darwin had a similar experience: a much bigger quake, but on dry land. Crustal movements isolate animal populations, leading to speciation, and then may bring them near each other, as at the Wallace Line. or even together, as in the reconnection of North and South America. Among many other animal and plant families, these two cases notably involve placental mammals and marsupials. Did I mention the beautiful photographs?Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Had a blast reading the travelogue of these scientist and his ability to tie together fantastic reality with old dusty Darwin.Published 18 months ago by Yvonne Michel
I have spent pleasant moments with this book; it is also a very good gift to a person who starts his/her studies in evolution and wants facts.Published on February 10, 2011 by Kari Saarvola, s.c.
I've written a lot of reviews on Amazon and I've read a lot of incredible books, many being the best of the best.... Read morePublished on January 18, 2011 by David Marks