Tuesday, February 16, 2010
Remarkable Creatures - Epic Adventures in the Search for the Origins of Species by Sean B. Carroll
The first part of this review is Stephanie's because her computer is broken and I stole this from Goodreads without asking her, because that's the sort of person I am..
The excellent Stephanie said..
Science has a reputation for being boring. I’ve made the acquaintance of many a science textbook in my time, and I can say that, in spite of my love for science, that reputation is not unwarranted. Textbook writers could stand to learn a thing or two from Sean B. Carroll, author of Remarkable Creatures: Epic Adventures in the Search for the Origin of Species.
In Remarkable Creatures, Carroll tells the stories of many of the men and women that have made great discoveries in the field of evolutionary science. It turns out that these scientists are not the stodgy, grey-haired stereotypes that we’d expect. Henry Wallace Bates lived 11 years alone in the Amazon. Alfred Wallace spent 10 days in a leaky lifeboat after his ship burned and sank. Paleontologist Roy Chapman Andrews may be the real-life inspiration for Indiana Jones, right down to his fear of snakes and his ever-present pistol.
Their stories are fascinating, and while I read them, I couldn’t help but learn an awful lot about evolution. Perhaps if science was presented with a little more personality, more people would be interested in studying the sciences, or (if the threat of inhospitable environments and tropical diseases are just too daunting) at least reading about them.
The last two chapters leave the field behind and dwell almost exclusively in the laboratory where the science can get a little intense (I had to read those chapters very slowly and more than once), but otherwise, I think this is a book that almost anyone would enjoy.* *
Unless you aren’t a fan of evolution, but I probably didn’t need to say that, did I?
And Lula added...
Sooo.....we did evolve from apes. I knew it! That explains so many things, all the hair in unusual places, the urge to groom my husband, why my youngest hangs on me like a monkey. Carroll includes a quote on the last page of this book, talk is cheap, exploration and discovery is hard. Boy, oh boy is that true! Some people are just born to find stuff. Some people are just pre-made to tackle decades of dealing with sunburns, throwing up, fire ant bites, fevers, sea-sickness, more throwing up, starvation, bitter cold, gale force winds, spear-holding natives, being buried in sandstorms, and sore bums from riding donkeys. But I don't know, being the first to set foot in unexplored wilderness, places no humans have tread in thousands of years, if at all, may make it worth it. Just maybe...
A great group of mostly men (and a few briefly mentioned women - Mary Leakey), some tiny men (Darwin), some Indiana Jones types (Roy Chapman Andrews), and some nerdy, but cute multiple Nobel Prize winning scientists (Linus Pauling) are included along with several others in this book. I learned a lot of things I didn't know about some the greatest explorers of the last centuries. What trials they went through to make their discoveries. What great determination!
After reading this I felt a great urge to marry a determined explorer and let him take all the credit for my discoveries, or maybe take up rock collecting again, or visit the nearest fossil beds, as I live in Idaho and there are a lot of past tense creatures buried around here, not including our current state political leaders....
Read this book if you are the least bit interested in science, you've always wanted to discover something new, and if you've ever in your life hit a rock with a hammer with hopes of finding a diamond inside.
Just be sure to wear protective glasses if you do that.
Trust me I know.