Bones: The Unity of Form and Function

Bones: The Unity of Form and Function

by Alexander, R. McNeil Alexander, Brian Kosoff
     
 

Few creations of nature display the perfect unity of form and function found in the vertebrate skeleton. Ingeniously designed by the processes of evolution, bones are marvels of engineering. In tribute to both the beauty and mechanics of its subject, Bones explores the structure, material, and movement of bones. It examines the composition of bone material,

Overview

Few creations of nature display the perfect unity of form and function found in the vertebrate skeleton. Ingeniously designed by the processes of evolution, bones are marvels of engineering. In tribute to both the beauty and mechanics of its subject, Bones explores the structure, material, and movement of bones. It examines the composition of bone material, looks at joints and muscle attachments that allow for movement-including such elaborate mechanisms as fish jaws, rattlesnake fangs, and a lion's retractable claws-and shows how the same bone is shaped wildly differently in a variety of animals.A wealth of specially commissioned color plates shows bones as they have seldom been seen before. The luminous images range from the unusual (the skeleton of a pygmy flying squirrel) to the ordinary (the tailbones of a domestic cat), and from the enormous (the vertebra of a dinosaur) to the minuscule (the acoustic bones of a desert kangaroo rat). With its blend of lively science and unexpected beauty, Bones leaves readers with insight into the workings of the skeleton, and a sense of wonder at its intricacy.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
The configuration of bones and skeletons offers compelling examples of engineering principles and design. Evolution has produced countless variations of features and functions based on the same basic parts of the skeleton, and so bats suspend their wings on long fingers while monkeys use their fingers for grasping, and horses run on one enlarged toe with nothing but remnant slivers of bone to show that their ancestors ever had more. This volume's 140 elegant photos illustrate some of these amazing adaptations (no diagrams of muscles or living animals intrude on the macabre purity of the bones themselves). The discussion focuses on engineering aspects such as the trade-off between strength and lightness, how joints are constructed, how bones adapt as an animal grows, and the uses for different shapes of teeth. It's an eye-opening and visually beautiful synthesis of ideas about ecology, evolution, and engineering.-Amy Brunvand, Univ. of Utah, Salt Lake City
Booknews
This is a paperbound reprint of a 1994 book about which Book News wrote: A beautiful and engaging work that conveys to the lay reader or student the wonder of bones as "strange and beautiful objects and above all as marvels of engineering design." The information-filled writing by McNeill, an eminent authority on animal mechanics, is perfectly complemented by the work of still photographer Brian Kosoff; both scientist artist combine clear-eyed observation and curiosity with aesthetic appreciation. Paleontologist Mark A. Norell of the American Museum of Natural History in New York City consulted. No references. 10x11<"> Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780813338064
Publisher:
Basic Books
Publication date:
12/10/2000
Pages:
224
Product dimensions:
9.90(w) x 10.97(h) x 0.58(d)

Meet the Author

R. McNeil Alexander is Deputy Head of the Department of Pure and Applied Biology at the University of Leeds, England. Considered the world's foremost authority on animal mechanics, he has received several prestigious awards, including the Scientific Medal from the Zoological Society of London.

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