ELIZABETHCOWLES, DEPARTMENT EDITOR
We are happy to welcomeABM new Book ReviewsEditor, ElizabethCowles.
ANIMAL EVOLUTION describeshis evolutionfrom "wetbehind the ears"novice to world famous,verte- R brate variousfield YourInner Fish: A Into the 3.5- paleontologist.Noting Journey he shares lessons Billion-Year of the Human experiences, important History Body. he has learned the He details Neil Shubin. 2008. PantheonBooks. along way. By from the to find- 240 Hardcover. everystep, planning trip (ISBN0375424474). pp. fossils to the $24.00. ing requiredpost-expedi- tion lab work. Of course, Shubin'smost In April2006, an above-the-foldstory impressive,logistically difficult expedition B on the front page of TheNew YorkTimes to date involvedfinding, unearthing, and introducedthe world to the fossilTiktaalik. extractingTiktaalik and thatreceives early,
Composed of featuresthat are part fish prominenttreatment. Downloaded from http://online.ucpress.edu/abt/article-pdf/70/5/308/54744/30163281.pdf by guest on 29 September 2021 and Tiktaalikwas held part amphibian, But the real of this book is as an link"in ter- triumph up important"missing the ease with which Shubin the restrialvertebrate evolution. The fossiland plucks same in different its Dr. Neil were thus string many ways-name- discoverer, Shubin, that whatever thrust into the currentdebate ly, through organ system headlong or scientific lens it is on the of evolutionin the biol- analyzed viewed, teaching clearthat within fish areantecedents to all classroom.Shubin has on ogy capitalized limbed vertebrates.In discrete the fame the of chapters, accompanying discovery the evolution of terres- Tiktaalikto his firstbook YourInner Shubin explores pen trial ears,teeth, limbs, and chemore- Fish: A Journey Into the 3.5-Billion-Year eyes, ceptors from structureswithin fish (and History of the HumanBody. their predecessor)to us. He achievesthis But while the organizingcenter of with morethan simplyhis paleontological the book is the discovery of Tiktaalik, tool kit. Examiningseminal and current the book is also much more. As both an experimentsin such fields as comparative activeinstructor and researchscientist at embryology (repurposing of conserved the Universityof Chicago and the pro- primitivestructures) and developmental vost of The Field Museum,Shubin wears genetics(function, conservation, and evo- many professionalhats, and that intellec- lution of the Hox genes),Shubin leads the tual breadthis apparentthroughout the readerto understandthat the evolutionof book. He opens manyof his chapterswith manis supportedby a cacophonyof differ- interestingpersonal insights into human ent scientificvoices. made while either a student or anatomy Aside from the immediate of instructor.His hardwon for quality appreciation the this book succeeds in sev- the evolvedstructure of the writing, non-intuitive, eral other success is shared. human then serves as in ways. First, body jumping In humbleand Shubin for more detailed considerations a refreshingstroke, points makes a to the of the evolutionof the human from point acknowledge gradu- body ate and technicians fish-the animalthat Shubinknows best. students, post-does who make his work possible. Second, Later,Shubin exchanges his educa- the illustrations that accompany the tor hat for the wide-brimmedhat of the work are clear but not so numerous as field scientist.In writingthat is both sci- to be distracting.A chaptertitled "Notes, entificallyclear and engrossing, Shubin References,and Other Reading"clarifies scientificcontentions and containswhat is essentiallyan annotatedbibliography for ELIZABETHCOWLES teaches freshman biol- each chapter.If you found yourselfwant- ogy, biochemistry,and entomologyat Eastern ing more,which I sometimesdid, Shubin ConnecticutState University. She has taughtat has providedample citationsfor primary the undergraduateand graduatecollege levels articlesand importantreview articles. over 20 Her interestsinclude insect for years. while this book self-aware- toxicology,protein characterization, and astro- Finally, biology.Cowles holds degrees in biologyand bio- ly enters the evolution debate (readers chemistryfrom Cornell University and Michigan will note that the font size not-so-subtly State University.Her addressis Departmentof increasesacross the cover so that "FISH" Biology,ECSU, 83 WindhamSt., Willimantic, is the largest word), it does so from a CT06226; e-mail:[email protected] position of authority.The book, without
308 THEAMERICAN BIOLOGY TEACHER, VOLUME 70,NO. 5, MAY2008 hesitation or equivocation,simply puts other hand, the chapteron maize leans For instance, did you know that the forwardthe factsand the obviousconclu- towardproviding a sympatheticportrait Americansilver-spotted skipper caterpil- sions for the reader.However, while this of BarbaraMcClintock but the experimen- lar can fire its feces at a speed of 4.3 feet book may informthe debateon teaching tal detailsabout the difficultyof studying per second, sometimes shooting them evolutionin the classroom,potential read- corn genetics is somewhat unclear.We as far as 60 inches, or 20 times its body ers should be awarethat this book does also learn that she "seems to have had length? Or that male sagebrushlizards not take on that debatedirectly. few if any sexual relationships"(p. 329). do a sort of push-up to attractpotential I that interestedin Do we reallyneed to know that level of mates?Or that the world'slargest insect imagine anyone information? of ants -canbe found on fossil hunting, the "back-story"of the personal colony -billions of Tiktaalihor a better the book leans toward the Atlanticcoast of Spainand Italy?Well, discovery wanting Although neitherdid I. understandingof the connectionbetween providing many historical accounts of evolution, genetics, and development genetics,microbiology and evolution,one And just why do giant pandas do ("evo/devo")will enjoy this book. High "guineapig" of evolutionis left out: fos- handstands?Well, it may come as no sur- school and college biology teacherswho sils. The author even includes a chap- prise that males do it -some, anyway -to teach evolution and development will ter on Homosapiens as a frameworkfor impress females.They scent mark trees find this book a resource. FrancisGalton's views on the inheritance with urine or a secretion of their anal of mental qualities.I found myselfstrug- glands to attractfemales, who apparently to find some coherence a male's fitness the of
gling throughout judge by height Downloaded from http://online.ucpress.edu/abt/article-pdf/70/5/308/54744/30163281.pdf by guest on 29 September 2021 KevinG. Fuller,Ph.D. this chaptersince thereis so much mean- the mark.Handstands get the mark the Scienceand MathematicsDept. dering about topics such as London's highest. ColumbiaCollege Chicago and Victorian sewage system, manners, Well,these arenice storiesand could [email protected] others. Notably absent is a chapter enliven a lecture or slide on C. the famous worm probablyhelp elegans, subject presentation.But the book's usefulness of many studies on embryonicdevelop- forthat it has ment and even purpose -and really nothing developmentalgenetic, else to recommendit -is severelycompro- HISTORY OF MODEL though Sydney Brenner,who pioneered mised its lack of an index.Without an the worm as a model is by ORGANISMS using organism, index, there is no to, for mentioned.As one would way example, briefly expect, find storiesabout a particularspecies. The thereis a on the (Cavia A Guinea of chapter guineapig book is dividedinto manyshort chapters, Pig's History Biology. By porcellus). Jim Endersby.2007. HarvardUniversity but their cutesy titles ("Codfathers:How Press. (ISBN 9780674027138). 499 pp. Despite some shortcomings, the animals behave like the Mafia")don't Hardcover.$27.95. book offersan engagingaccount of biol- alwaysprovide much information. ogy history.Teachers can use of the his- The entries in most are Every biology teacher has worked toricalanecdotes to their class vary length; spice up short, too short to be of much use. with a given organismat some point. But discussions. For those readerswho are quite how of us haveever wondered how Here'sone entryin its entirety:"Penguins many moreserious about the historyof science, and why did the use of that particular are racist.Albino penguins are routinely particularlybiology, there are some gaps at and shunned their organismemerge? Jim Endersby,a his- in the historicalaccounts of fieldssuch as pecked by peers." at the of Sussex Well,what is one to makeof that? toryprofessor University geneticsand developmentthat leave one in the UK, has some answers for you. longingfor a differentbook. Luckily,Brown cites his sources,but Throughan engagingnarrative and a col- he does so in a most unhelpfulway: For lection of scientific,historical, and politi- eachchapter, the journal articles are listed cal anecdotes, Endersbyweaves twelve Jose Vdzquez,Ph.D. in a sectionat the end of the book, but to stories about model Those organisms. GeneralStudies Program find the one you want,you have to count storiesare in narrated a separatechapter New YorkUniversity the entriesin the chapterand then count each. Endersby starts with an extinct New York,NY 10003 down that many references.A chapter organism(the quagga,Equus guagga), and [email protected] might have 25-30 brief entries and 34 progressesthrough some forgottenones sourceslisted. such as the (Oenothera eveningprimrose A much better book of this larnarckiana),to the used fruit genre commonly is Headless Males Make Great Lovers and fly corn (Zea mays), and ANIMAL BEHAVIOR (Drosophila), Other Unusual Natural Histories zebrafish(Danio rerio).He finishes the by Marty of book with the Why Pandas Do Handstandsand Other Crump, University Chicago Press, genetically engineered which has entriesand an index. OncoMouse (R). Curious Truths About Animals. By longer AugustusBrown. 2006. Free Press (ISBN Eachchapter can be readas a stand- 9781416531906). 301 pp. Hardcover. alone, and in any sequence the reader Goodman wishes. The of each var- $15.95. Billy depth chapter Teacher some lack sufficient his- Gee, those animals!Freelance ies; chapters crazy AdvancedPlacement torical details while others include an British writer Augustus Brown seems EnvironmentalScience and overabundanceof anecdotes.The chapter to have collected tidbits about animal Ecology Passaic School on Darwin'sPassiflora gracilis provides a behavior from journals for many years, ValleyHigh Little balancedhistorical account of his voyage and here he serves up a hodgepodgeof Falls, NJ along some of his breedingwork. On the facts, anecdotes, and research findings. [email protected]