Just a few more

6 07 2007

I should probably keep track of how many books I read this summer; I think I may set an all-time record for myself. The end of The Ultimate Dinosaur is in sight (if you like paleo-essays mixed with SF, give it a look) and Tempo and Mode in Evolution will go fairly quickly as well, and I fully expect to have my “biogeography” posts up and ready-to-go in a week. Once I complete those, however, I will be nearly out of new reading material, so I tacked on a few more books to the list;

From The Greeks To Darwin: An Outline Of The Development Of The Evolution Idea
by Henry Fairfield Osborn

When discussing the history of evolution, Darwin rightly takes a prominent position. Still, what about those before him? Most books I’ve read that mention the history of evolution treat scientists and philosophers prior to Darwin as a bit of a footnote, so I think that this rare tome by H.F. Osborn might flesh out the rather skeletal understanding I have about evolution prior to the mid-19th century.

Dinosaurs: Stories by Ray Bradbury, Arthur C. Clarke, Isaac Asimov and Many Others by Various Authors

Summertime, above all else, usually means one thing to me in terms of books; lots of man-eating monsters. Be it Crichton, Benchley, Lincon/Child, or others, I just need a good monster fix when the weather gets warm, and this collection will help make sure I get that annual requirement.

A History of the Warfare of Science With Theology in Christendom by Andrew Dickson White

I know it’s available for free online, but I’m not a huge fan of reading for long amounts of time on the computer (it makes my eyes feel like they’re going to melt). Still, I thought that I would do well to further investigate the interplay between science and Christianity (and not just in terms of evolution), especially since many of the clashes are probably long-forgotten.

The Origin of Continents and Oceans by Alfred Wegener

It’s odd to think that there are still people who can remember a time when continental drift was considered a fantasy; the scientific reality of the geologic movements of the continents are taken for granted, but they do have important implications for the history of life on earth. I hope to read the works of Hutton, Smith, Buckland, and Lyell in the near future as well, but I thought I would start with something a little more contemporary before visiting the 19th century yet again.

Dangerous Beauty – Life and Death in Africa: True Stories From a Safari Guide by Mark C. Ross

I absolutely love African wildlife, and the overall change from conquest to stewardship (especially among the once-Great White Hunters) has always interested me. While it will certainly lack the academic bits that made A Primate’s Memoir and Cry of the Kalahari resonate with me as a scientist-in-training, how can I resist a good adventure book about Africa?

Our Inner Ape by Frans De Waal

I’ve been meaning to read this for quite some time, but it always got left off my other lists. I couldn’t continue to keep pushing it to the side for later, however, and I am certainly looking forward to reading this one.

Evolution of the Vertebrates by Edwin Colbert

I know it’s horribly outdated, but I figure you can’t beat the $2.00 sticker price. It’ll be interesting to compare this to Romer’s Vertebrate Paleontology.

A Cold Look at the Warm-Blooded Dinosaurs
by Various

AAAS conference on the topic of “warm-blooded” dinosaurs. I read The Dinosaur Heresies so I figured I would be remiss if I didn’t take a look at the papers from this conference on the subject.

The First Fossil Hunters: Paleontology in Greek and Roman Times by Adrienne Mayor

It might be speculative, but just because we didn’t know what fossils were until the last few hundred years didn’t mean that people did not find them or ignored them throughout history. This book will tie-in well with my upcoming visit to the AMNH and the mythic creatures exhibit, providing some background on what past civilizations made of fossils.

Strange Creations: Aberrant Ideas of Human Origins from Ancient Astronauts to Aquatic Apes by Donna Kossey

I have to admit I am fairly unfamiliar with ideas like the aquatic ape hypothesis and other alternate ideas about human origins, so I thought I might as well prepare myself for when they came up in the future.

I also ordered something that is a surprise for someone, so I’m not about to give that one away on here just yet. There are plenty of other books I’d love to obtain and read (like Valentine’s On the Origin of Phyla, Coyne/Orr’s Speciation, Romer’s Osteology of the Reptiles) but they are currently out of my range. I guess I’ve been spoiled, in a way; I’m sure used to pay between $0.01 and $10.00 for books that I am loathe to part with upwards of $45.00, even though I know it will be of benefit to me. Of course, there’s always the library, but at this point I have a much better collection than nearly any library in the area and I do not have the luxury of referring back to the book anytime I need to (they’d all need to be loans from afar). I just wonder at what point will I start to lose memories of my childhood to cladograms and anatomic depictions of beasts long dead…



3 responses

6 07 2007

“It’s odd to think that there are still people who can remember a time when continental drift was considered a fantasy”

I’m only 51 and as a kid had the Time-Life Nature Library books. The volume on The Earth from 1962 had a bit about Wegener and a few hints there might be a re-evaluation. There was mention of geomagnetic data not fitting with the idea that the continents had alway been where they are now. It is interesting as a snapshot taken in the popular sphere while the revolution was going on in the background.

7 07 2007

Thanks for the comment Mike; I have to look at the Time-Life young reader’s books I was given on science to see if anything about continental drift was included. While the big change happened before I was born, in terms of “Deep Time” our understanding of geology has progressed incredibly fast, and I can only wonder what we’ll know a few decades from now.

9 07 2007

The first I heard of continental drift, my father was giving me a haircut in the basement, and someone was talking about it on the radio. That must have been around 1962-63. Such trivial experiences can stir scientific curiosity in a person.

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