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Books

Evolution


Improbable Destinies: Fate, Chance, and the Future of Evolution

Improbable Destinies: Fate, Chance, and the Future of Evolution Lowest new price: $17.32
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Author: Jonathan B. Losos
Brand: Losos Jonathan B

A major new book overturning our assumptions about how evolution works
 
Earth’s natural history is full of fascinating instances of convergence: phenomena like eyes and wings and tree-climbing lizards that have evolved independently, multiple times. But evolutionary biologists also point out many examples of contingency, cases where the tiniest change—a random mutation or an ancient butterfly sneeze—caused evolution to take a completely different course. What role does each force really play in the constantly changing natural world? Are the plants and animals that exist today, and we humans ourselves, inevitabilities or evolutionary flukes? And what does that say about life on other planets?
 
Jonathan Losos reveals what the latest breakthroughs in evolutionary biology can tell us about one of the greatest ongoing debates in science. He takes us around the globe to meet the researchers who are solving the deepest mysteries of life on Earth through their work in experimental evolutionary science. Losos himself is one of the leaders in this exciting new field, and he illustrates how experiments with guppies, fruit flies, bacteria, foxes, and field mice, along with his own work with anole lizards on Caribbean islands, are rewinding the tape of life to reveal just how rapid and predictable evolution can be. 
 
Improbable Destinies will change the way we think and talk about evolution. Losos's insights into natural selection and evolutionary change have far-reaching applications for protecting ecosystems, securing our food supply, and fighting off harmful viruses and bacteria. This compelling narrative offers a new understanding of ourselves and our role in the natural world and the cosmos.

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  • Improbable Destinies Fate Chance and the Future of Evolution

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Mariposas Nocturnas: Moths of Central and South America, A Study in Beauty and Diversity

Mariposas Nocturnas: Moths of Central and South America, A Study in Beauty and Diversity Lowest new price: $36.68
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Author: Emmet Gowin

A stunning portrait of the nocturnal moths of Central and South America by famed American photographer Emmet Gowin

American photographer Emmet Gowin (b. 1941) is best known for his portraits of his wife, Edith, and their family, as well as for his images documenting the impact of human activity upon landscapes around the world. For the past fifteen years, he has been engaged in an equally profound project on a different scale, capturing the exquisite beauty of more than one thousand species of nocturnal moths in Bolivia, Brazil, Ecuador, French Guiana, and Panama.

These stunning color portraits present the insects―many of which may never have been photographed as living specimens before, and some of which may not be seen again―arrayed in typologies of twenty-five per sheet. The moths are photographed alive, in natural positions and postures, and set against a variety of backgrounds taken from the natural world and images from art history.

Throughout Gowin’s distinguished career, his work has addressed urgent concerns. The arresting images of Mariposas Nocturnas extend this reach, as Gowin fosters awareness for a part of nature that is generally left unobserved and calls for a greater awareness of the biodiversity and value of the tropics as a universally shared natural treasure. An essay by Gowin provides a fascinating personal history of his work with biologists and introduces both the photographic and philosophical processes behind this extraordinary project.

Essential reading for audiences both in photography and natural history, this lavishly illustrated volume reminds readers that, as Terry Tempest Williams writes in her foreword, “The world is saturated with loveliness, inhabited by others far more adept at living with uncertainty than we are.”

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Coyote America: A Natural and Supernatural History

Coyote America: A Natural and Supernatural History Lowest new price: $10.38
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Author: Dan Flores

Finalist for the PEN/E.O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award


"A masterly synthesis of scientific research and personal observation." --Wall Street Journal

Legends don't come close to capturing the incredible story of the coyote In the face of centuries of campaigns of annihilation employing gases, helicopters, and engineered epidemics, coyotes didn't just survive, they thrived, expanding across the continent from Alaska to New York. In the war between humans and coyotes, coyotes have won, hands-down. Coyote America is the illuminating five-million-year biography of this extraordinary animal, from its origins to its apotheosis. It is one of the great epics of our time.

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Darwin's Backyard: How Small Experiments Led to a Big Theory

Darwin's Backyard: How Small Experiments Led to a Big Theory Lowest new price: $13.47
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Author: James T. Costa

Darwin’s Backyard goes beyond the portrait of Charles Darwin as a brilliant thinker to concentrate on him as a nimble experimenter delving into some of evolution’s great mysteries.

James T. Costa takes readers on a journey from Darwin’s childhood through his voyage on the HMS Beagle where his ideas on evolution began. We then follow Darwin to Down House, his bustling home of forty years, where he kept porcupine quills at his desk to dissect barnacles, maintained a flock of sixteen pigeon breeds in the dovecote, and cultivated climbing plants in the study, and to Bournemouth, where on one memorable family vacation he fed carnivorous plants in the soup dishes.

Using his garden and greenhouse, the surrounding meadows and woodlands, and even taking over the cellar, study, and hallways of his home-turned-field-station, Darwin tested ideas of his landmark theory of evolution with an astonishing array of hands-on experiments that could be done on the fly, without specialized equipment.

He engaged naturalists, friends, neighbors, family servants, and even his children, nieces, nephews, and cousins as assistants in these experiments, which involved everything from chasing bees and tempting fish to eat seeds to serenading earthworms. From the experiments’ results, he plumbed the laws of nature and evidence for the revolutionary arguments of On the Origin of Species and his other watershed works.

Beyond Darwin at work, we accompany him against the backdrop of his enduring marriage, chronic illness, grief at the loss of three children, and joy in scientific revelation. This unique glimpse of Darwin’s life introduces us to an enthusiastic correspondent, crowd-sourcer, family man, and, most of all, an incorrigible observer and experimenter.

Includes directions for eighteen hands-on experiments, for home, school, yard, or garden.

60 line drawings

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The Origin of Species: 150th Anniversary Edition

The Origin of Species: 150th Anniversary Edition Lowest new price: $4.72
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Author: Charles Darwin
Brand: Signet Book

Charles Darwin’s classic that exploded into public controversy, revolutionized the course of science, and continues to transform our views of the world.

Few other books have created such a lasting storm of controversy as The Origin of Species. Darwin’s theory that species derive from other species by a gradual evolutionary process and that the average level of each species is heightened by the “survival of the fittest” stirred up popular debate to fever pitch. Its acceptance revolutionized the course of science.

As Sir Julian Huxley, the noted biologist, points out in his illuminating introduction, the importance of Darwin’s contribution to modern scientific knowledge is almost impossible to evaluate: “a truly great book, one which can still be read with profit by professional biologist.”

Includes an Introduction by Sir Julian Huxley

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  • Signet Book

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Other Minds: The Octopus, the Sea, and the Deep Origins of Consciousness

Other Minds: The Octopus, the Sea, and the Deep Origins of Consciousness Lowest new price: $14.50
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Author: Peter Godfrey-Smith
Brand: Godfrey Smith Peter

Although mammals and birds are widely regarded as the smartest creatures on earth, it has lately become clear that a very distant branch of the tree of life has also sprouted higher intelligence: the cephalopods, consisting of the squid, the cuttlefish, and above all the octopus. In captivity, octopuses have been known to identify individual human keepers, raid neighboring tanks for food, turn off lightbulbs by spouting jets of water, plug drains, and make daring escapes. How is it that a creature with such gifts evolved through an evolutionary lineage so radically distant from our own? What does it mean that evolution built minds not once but at least twice? The octopus is the closest we will come to meeting an intelligent alien. What can we learn from the encounter?

In Other Minds, Peter Godfrey-Smith, a distinguished philosopher of science and a skilled scuba diver, tells a bold new story of how subjective experience crept into being―how nature became aware of itself. As Godfrey-Smith stresses, it is a story that largely occurs in the ocean, where animals first appeared. Tracking the mind’s fitful development, Godfrey-Smith shows how unruly clumps of seaborne cells began living together and became capable of sensing, acting, and signaling. As these primitive organisms became more entangled with others, they grew more complicated. The first nervous systems evolved, probably in ancient relatives of jellyfish; later on, the cephalopods, which began as inconspicuous mollusks, abandoned their shells and rose above the ocean floor, searching for prey and acquiring the greater intelligence needed to do so. Taking an independent route, mammals and birds later began their own evolutionary journeys.

But what kind of intelligence do cephalopods possess? Drawing on the latest scientific research and his own scuba-diving adventures, Godfrey-Smith probes the many mysteries that surround the lineage. How did the octopus, a solitary creature with little social life, become so smart? What is it like to have eight tentacles that are so packed with neurons that they virtually “think for themselves”? What happens when some octopuses abandon their hermit-like ways and congregate, as they do in a unique location off the coast of Australia?

By tracing the question of inner life back to its roots and comparing human beings with our most remarkable animal relatives, Godfrey-Smith casts crucial new light on the octopus mind―and on our own.

Features:

  • Other Minds The Octopus the Sea and the Deep Origins of Consciousness

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The Ends of the World: Volcanic Apocalypses, Lethal Oceans, and Our Quest to Understand Earth's Past Mass Extinctions

The Ends of the World: Volcanic Apocalypses, Lethal Oceans, and Our Quest to Understand Earth's Past Mass Extinctions Lowest new price: $18.21
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Author: Peter Brannen
Brand: Brannen Peter

As new groundbreaking research suggests that climate change played a major role in the most extreme catastrophes in the planet's history, award-winning science journalist Peter Brannen takes us on a wild ride through the planet's five mass extinctions and, in the process, offers us a glimpse of our increasingly dangerous future

Our world has ended five times: it has been broiled, frozen, poison-gassed, smothered, and pelted by asteroids. In The Ends of the World, Peter Brannen dives into deep time, exploring Earth’s past dead ends, and in the process, offers us a glimpse of our possible future.

Many scientists now believe that the climate shifts of the twenty-first century have analogs in these five extinctions. Using the visible clues these devastations have left behind in the fossil record, The Ends of the World takes us inside “scenes of the crime,” from South Africa to the New York Palisades, to tell the story of each extinction. Brannen examines the fossil record—which is rife with creatures like dragonflies the size of sea gulls and guillotine-mouthed fish—and introduces us to the researchers on the front lines who, using the forensic tools of modern science, are piecing together what really happened at the crime scenes of the Earth’s biggest whodunits.

Part road trip, part history, and part cautionary tale, The Ends of the World takes us on a tour of the ways that our planet has clawed itself back from the grave, and casts our future in a completely new light.

Features:

  • The Ends of the World Volcanic Apocalypses Lethal Oceans and Our Quest to Understand Earth s Past Mass Extinctions

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The Moral Animal: Why We Are, the Way We Are: The New Science of Evolutionary Psychology

The Moral Animal: Why We Are, the Way We Are: The New Science of Evolutionary Psychology Lowest new price: $10.85
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Author: Robert Wright
Brand: Robert Wright

Are men literally born to cheat? Does monogamy actually serve women's interests? These are among the questions that have made The Moral Animal one of the most provocative science books in recent years. Wright unveils the genetic strategies behind everything from our sexual preferences to our office politics--as well as their implications for our moral codes and public policies. Illustrations.

An accessible introduction to the science of evolutionary psychology and how it explains many aspects of human nature. Unlike many books on the topic,which focus on abstractions like kin selection, this book focuses on Darwinian explanations of why we are the way we are--emotionally and morally. Wright deals particularly well with explaining the reasons for the stereotypical dynamics of the three big "S's:" sex, siblings, and society.

Features:

  • The Moral Animal Why We Are the Way We Are The New Science of Evolutionary Psychology

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Food of the Gods: The Search for the Original Tree of Knowledge A Radical History of Plants, Drugs, and Human Evolution

Food of the Gods: The Search for the Original Tree of Knowledge A Radical History of Plants, Drugs, and Human Evolution Lowest new price: $9.57
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Author: Terence McKenna
Brand: McKenna, Terence

An exploration of humans' symbiotic relationships with plants and chemicals presents information on prehistoric partnership societies, the roles of spices and spirits in the rise of dominator societies; and the politics of tobacco, tea, coffee, opium, and alcohol.

Features:

  • Bantam

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The Body Electric: Electromagnetism And The Foundation Of Life

The Body Electric: Electromagnetism And The Foundation Of Life Lowest new price: $9.41
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Author: Robert Becker
Brand: William Morrow Paperbacks

The Body Electric tells the fascinating story of our bioelectric selves. Robert O. Becker, a pioneer in the filed of regeneration and its relationship to electrical currents in living things, challenges the established mechanistic understanding of the body. He found clues to the healing process in the long-discarded theory that electricity is vital to life. But as exciting as Becker's discoveries are, pointing to the day when human limbs, spinal cords, and organs may be regenerated after they have been damaged, equally fascinating is the story of Becker's struggle to do such original work. The Body Electric explores new pathways in our understanding of evolution, acupuncture, psychic phenomena, and healing.

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  • William Morrow Paperbacks

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