Synopses & Reviews
An award-winning biologist takes us on the dramatic expeditions that unearthed the history of life on our planet.
Just 150 years ago, most of our world was an unexplored wilderness. Our sense of its age was vague and vastly off the mark, and much of the knowledge of our own speciesand#8217; history was a set of fantastic myths and fairy tales. In the tradition of The Microbe Hunters and Gods, Graves, and Scholars, Sean Carroll leads a rousing voyage that recounts the most important discoveries in two centuries of natural history: from Darwinand#8217;s trip around the world to Charles Walcottand#8217;s discovery of pre-Cambrian life in the Grand Canyon; from Louis and Mary Leakeyand#8217;s investigation of our deepest past in East Africa to the trailblazers in modern laboratories who have located a time clock in our DNA.
"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 Eugne 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." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
andquot;These scientific adventurers inspire the authorandmdash;and will do the same for experts and novices alikeandmdash;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.andquot; --Kirkus Review, 12/15/08
National Book Award Finalist
The Economist Best Book of the Year
Amazon.com Top Ten Science Books of 2009
"These 'remarkable creatures' are in fact the pioneering naturalists whose dramatic discoveries fleshed out Darwins theory. Carroll gives us voyages, expeditions, obstacles and what drives the passions of scientists." - Scientific American
"Darwin wasn't the only scientist to hit the high seas. Carroll chronicles his own journey alongside other voyages of discovery that helped evolve the study of evolution . . . Carroll, a leading biologist, is one of the high priests of evo devo (evolutionary developmental biology), a field that's been revolutionizing our understanding of why we are the way we are." - Wired
An award-wining biologist explores the dramatic expeditions that unearthed the history of life on Earth--from the epic journeys of pioneering naturalists to the breakthroughs making headlines today.
An award-wining biologist takes us on the dramatic expeditions that unearthed the history of life on our planet.
Just 150 years ago,most of our world was an unexplored wilderness.Our sense of how old it was? Vague and vastly off the mark. And our sense of our own speciesand#8217; history? A set of fantastic myths and fairy tales. Fossils had been known for millennia, but they were seen as the bones of dragons and other imagined creatures.
In the tradition of The Microbe Hunters and Gods, Graves, and Scholars, Sean Carrolland#8217;s Remarkable Creatures celebrates the pioneers who replaced our fancies with the even more amazing true story of how our world evolved.
Carroll recounts the most important discoveries in two centuries of national history and#151; from Darwinand#8217;s trip around the world to CharlesWalcottand#8217;s discovery of pre-Cambrian life in the Grand Canyon; from Louis and Mary Leakeyand#8217;s investigation of our deepest past in East Africa to the trailblazers in modern laboratories who have located a time clock in our DNA. Join him in a rousing voyage of discovery, from the epic journeys of pioneering naturalists to the breakthroughs making headlines today.
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.