Reflections in natural history.
The fourth of Stephen Jay Gould’s long-running series of popular science essay collections that first appeared in his monthly column in Natural History magazine, The Flamingo’s Smile covers topics which include:
- the unusual structure of flamingoes’ beaks;
- the mating habits of praying mantises;
- animals that change sex;
- conjoined twins;
- the Portuguese man-of-war;
- weird attempts to reconcile geological and biblical timescales and events;
- Lord Kelvin’s calculations of the age of the earth;
- the Kinsey Reports;
- baseball statistics;
- Ediacaran and other fossils;
- the Great Chain of Being;
- the Hottentot Venus;
- Darwin’s poor record-keeping in the Galápagos Islands;
- the search for extraterrestrial intelligence;
- extinction events.
As with all of Gould’s essay collections, this is a fantastic book, although I wouldn't classify it amongst my particular favourites. But highly recommended, nevertheless.