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The Darwinian Tourist: Viewing the World Through Evolutionary Eyes Hardcover – November 1, 2010

4.8 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

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Product Description:
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.

Seattle 100: Portrait of a City
A manta ray, Manta birostris, off the coast of Yap, a remote Micronesian island. Mantay rays roam throughout the tropical waters of the world, typically around coral reefs, and are known for their gentle nature. After filming this, Wills was caught up in an underwater earthquake.
Seattle 100: Portrait of a City
In a valley in western Mongolia, a wild wolf-cub becomes a pet for local children. The process of animal domestication is played out before our eyes, in the very place where genetic evidence shows that some of the first dogs were tamed.
Seattle 100: Portrait of a City
The dull grey sand of Indonesia’s Lembeh Strait is home to vividly beautiful creatures like the boxer shrimp, Odontodactylus scyllarus, whose claws move so quickly through the water that cavitation bubbles form in their wake. As the bubbles collapse they generate flashes of light.
Seattle 100: Portrait of a City
The Batek tribespeople live on the edge of Taman Negara National Park in peninsular Malaysia. These people are descendants of the first modern humans to traverse the peninsula, on humankind’s longest journey “out of Africa.”
Seattle 100: Portrait of a City
A Curculonid weevil from the Mulu forest of Sarawak. These beetles use their sensitive antennae to home in on chemical signals from other members of the same species. They make holes in saplings to lay their eggs.
Seattle 100: Portrait of a City
Tropical forests like the Danum Valley in central Sabah, Borneo are some of the world’s most complex ecosystems, and yet at first sight it is not obvious how they can harbor the many different ecological niches that have led to an explosion of animal and plant speciation.

Review


"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."
-Library Journal


"a stellar new travel book...dense with fascinating knowledge and laugh-out-loud moments...the perfect holiday gift for your globetrotting friends."
-Wandermelon


"Wills' has written a glorious examination of Earth's lesser known biological fauna and flora, giving this an alien yet welcoming feel."
-Real Travel


"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


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (November 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199584389
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199584383
  • Product Dimensions: 9.8 x 1.3 x 7.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,479,900 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Travel to exotic locales in this marvelous book with Chris Wills as adventurous guide and interpreter of our world and how it, and we, got to be what we are. He is also a nerveless and skilled photographer who will bring the world to you, even when head-on with a whale shark or komodo dragon.
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?
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A wonderful read, fantastic photos, the most up-to-date information on evolution, ecology and the environment. I read this book on the beach in Zihuatanejo, Mexico, and couldn't put it down! Only Wills can make density-dependent selection in tropical rain forests seem not only intriguing, but understandable...and his sections on human evolution and migration are not to be missed!
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Format: Hardcover
THE DARWINIAN TOURIST; VIEWING THE WORLD THROUGH EVOLUTIONARY EYES shares Christopher Wills' knowledge of biodiversity to consider how ecology and evolution of interacted. Over 100 original photos accompany an ecological travel expedition to explore evolution and connections to the natural world, answering questions as diverse as how the domestication of animals changed the world and how tree species evolution has affected the planet. Any general science collection should consider this a 'must', with its strong science paired with a lively format lending to general reading.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Fascinating adventures and scientific information.
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