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Hen's Teeth and Horse's Toes: Further Reflections in Natural History Paperback – April 17, 1994
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“Delectable. . . . A happy evolutionary tour de force. Gould is a true natural philosopher in the grand tradition of the Enlightenment. Read, learn, and enjoy.” (Washington Post Book World)
From the Publisher
Top Customer Reviews
The range, as always, is impressive: tours of the controversies and unforgettable characters that pepper the history of science; examinations of the politics of science (which, sadly, hasn't changed much in 25 years) and the threats to teaching posed by creationists; explorations in paleontology and evolutionary theory; and some dabblings in "hard science" that might leave a few folks scratching their heads. There's even a typical Gould curio reminiscent of his essays on baseball: an analysis of the inexorable trend towards smaller Hershey bars. The only truly outdated essays are those which focus on genetics and the discovery of the structure of DNA.
For me, the defining moment in this collection is the question posed by Gould: "Is a zebra a white animal with black stripes or a black animal with white stripes?" It's really a damn good question, but to be honest, such a problem would never have crossed my mind. (I feel doltish for not even knowing that there are three species of zebra.) Gould's certainly not the first biologist to consider the issue, but he's surely the first to offer for the everyday reader not one, but three easily understood and (one might even say) riveting essays on "striped horses." And that's just what makes Gould's works so worthwhile: a charming combination of his fascination with history, his inquisitiveness about nature (especially in areas "outside his expertise"), and the patience needed to write clearly about such matters for the non-scientist.
Some of the more technical essays about specific creatures went on a bit long, and some readers might be slightly disturbed by Gould's occasional steps into more political topics. However, given that the biggest such topic involves "creationism" (early in the days of the use of "intelligent design"), a typical reader probably won't mind the force of his argument. The slight detour on the Scopes trial was welcome.
I had, in fact, thought both about the colors of the zebra and the trends in candy bars, food cans, packages of diapers, and so on. The former topic touched two essays, with the question really a hook for both that specific question and meanderings elsewhere. The latter was an amusing break that even the most non-mathematical reader could understand.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A pedantic book with very few ethological information and many disquisitions on the debate creationists/ evolutionisst. Poor popular science and almost zero interest.Published 3 months ago by Guia Risari
I have liked all Stephen Jay Goulds writings. This was one of his early books, and I think one of his best. I would recommend it highly.Published 5 months ago by kevin w. wright
As an avid long-time reader of Gould's essays, this is by far one of my most favorite collections. Essays such as Nonmoral Nature, Hutton's Purpose, Worm for a Century, Stinkstones... Read morePublished 5 months ago by happy hippy
I just finished this volume and have three others stacked up and ready. I enjoy Gould's writing and Hen's Teeth . . . was great. Read morePublished 7 months ago by D. Swanson
Stephen Jay Gould (1941-2002) wrote many other important books, such as Ever Since Darwin, The Panda's Thumb, The Flamingo's Smile, Wonderful Life: The Burgess Shale and the Nature... Read morePublished on May 12, 2014 by Steven H Propp