Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Skeleton's Flesh Out Life's Past

Book review by Carl Zimmer for a new coffee-table book entitled "Evolution". The book focuses on forms which reminds me of the last sentence in Charles Darwin's "Origin of the Species", "There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved."
clipped from www.nytimes.com

STRIPED DOLPHIN Stenella coeruleoalba.

Published: November 6, 2007

About half a billion years ago, our ancestors were slender, jawless, fishlike creatures. Their backs were stiffened by a rod of cartilage, along which grew bony prongs. That smattering of bone was the forerunner of our vertebrae, and it gave us and all the other descendants of those ancient animals our name: the vertebrates. Vertebrates have evolved into tens of thousands of species dominating the ocean, land and sky. Much of their success is due to the many new forms their skeletons have taken. A new coffee-table-format book, “Evolution” (Seven Stories Press), offers hundreds of gorgeous photographs of those forms, as diverse as bats with fingers thinner than pipe cleaners and rhinos with skulls as stubborn as boulders.

Accompanying the photographs, by Patrick Gries, are essays by Jean-Baptiste de Panafieu, a French biologist and author.
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