The Darwinian Tourist: Viewing the World Through Evolutionary Eyes

Overview

In The Darwinian Tourist , biologist Christopher Wills takes us on a series of adventures—exciting in their own right—that demonstrate how ecology and evolution have interacted to create the world we live in. Some of these adventures, like his SCUBA dives in the incredibly diverse Lembeh Strait in Indonesia or his encounter with a wild wolf cub in western Mongolia, might have been experienced by any reasonably intrepid traveller. Others, like his experience of being hammered by a severe earthquake off the island ...

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The Darwinian Tourist: Viewing the world through evolutionary eyes

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Overview

In The Darwinian Tourist , biologist Christopher Wills takes us on a series of adventures—exciting in their own right—that demonstrate how ecology and evolution have interacted to create the world we live in. Some of these adventures, like his SCUBA dives in the incredibly diverse Lembeh Strait in Indonesia or his encounter with a wild wolf cub in western Mongolia, might have been experienced by any reasonably intrepid traveller. Others, like his experience of being hammered by a severe earthquake off the island of Yap while sixty feet down in the ocean, filming manta rays, stand far outside the ordinary. With his own stunning color photographs of the wildlife he discovered on his travels, Wills not only takes us to these far-off places but, more important, draws out the evolutionary stories behind the wildlife and shows how our understanding of the living world can be deepened by a Darwinian perspective. In addition, the book offers an extensive and unusual view of human evolution, examining the entire sweep of our evolutionary story as it has taken place throughout the Old World. The reader comes away with a renewed sense of wonder about the world's astounding diversity, along with a new appreciation of the long evolutionary history that has led to the wonders of the present-day. When we lose a species or an ecosystem, Wills shows us, we also lose many millions of years of history. Published to coincide with the International Year for Biodiversity, The Darwinian Tourist is packed with globe-trotting exploits, brilliant color photography, and eye-opening insights into the evolution of humanity and the natural world.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Probably this year's most important travel book"
- Conde Nast Traveller

"Wills...offers an armchair world ecotour to the nth degree.... The reader does not need a background in genetics or ecology to appreciate this last lecture-style book...Chock-full of wonderful photographs, this book is strongly recommended for readers seeking insight into their world and the ecological places they visit."
-Library Journal

"a stellar new travel book...dense with fascinating knowledge and laugh-out-loud moments...the perfect holiday gift for your globetrotting friends."
-Wandermelon

"Wills' has written a glorious examination of Earth's lesser known biological fauna and flora, giving this an alien yet welcoming feel."
-Real Travel

"The Darwinian Tourist is a great book, which includes engaging discussions of natural history from a very personal point of view. The stories are told effectively in part because of the fantastic photographic work of the author. After reading this volume, one cannot help but wonder what The Voyage of the Beagle would have looked like if Darwin had a digital camera." -- Jay Odenbaugh, The Quarterly Review of Biology

Library Journal
Wills (biological sciences, Univ. of California-San Diego), author of the best-selling The Runaway Brain: The Evolution of Human Uniqueness, offers an armchair world ecotour to the nth degree. Drawing on a career that involved visiting special places across the globe (with a heavy emphasis on Australasia), Wills explores flora and fauna from the perspective of figure (specific plants and animals) and ground (the ecosystems they inhabit and interact with) using the lens of evolutionary biology via known fossil and molecular records. He clearly explains through vivid examples why the world has its diversity today and why diversity matters and needs preservation. VERDICT The reader does not need a background in genetics or ecology to appreciate this last lecture-style book, but the storytelling of evolutionary biology is more palatable than the stories of Wills's travels. Chock-full of wonderful photographs, this book is strongly recommended for readers seeking insight into their world and the ecological places they visit.—James A. Buczynski, Seneca Coll. of Applied Arts & Tech, Toronto
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780199584383
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 11/1/2010
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 989,883
  • Product dimensions: 6.90 (w) x 9.80 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Christopher Wills is Professor of Biological Sciences and member of the Center for Molecular Genetics at the University of California. He received the Award for Public Understanding of Science and Technology from the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 1999. He is the author of the bestselling The Runaway Brain: The Evolution of Human Uniqueness, Children of Prometheus: The Accelerating Pace of Human Evolution (a finalist for the 2000 Aventis Prize, the most important English prize for science books), and many other books.

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Table of Contents

Part One: The Living World
1. Shape-Shifters
2. The Inner Workings of Evolution
3. The Shifting Earth
4. Speciation
5. Rainforests, Diseases and Ecological Diversity
Part Two:The Human Story
6. How Domesticated Animals Changed the World
7. The Great Migration
8. The San and the Hobbits

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