Curt Feldman
May 17, 1996 AT 04:00 AM EDT

The Song of the Dodo: Island Biogeography in an Age of Extinctions

type
Book
Current Status
In Season
author
David Quammen
genre
Nature

We gave it an B+

For those who find the biological sciences a snooze, The Song of the Dodo: Island Biogeography in an Age of Extinctions will come as a pleasant surprise. As David Quammen, an Outside magazine columnist, explains, the fantastic thing about islands is that they speed up the evolutionary process. Because of their isolation, species on isles transmogrify and mutate and sometimes even disappear more rapidly than they do on continents. So islands often showcase ”extravagant evolutionary experimentation,” giving scientists real-life laboratories. Quammen visits Madagascar, Bali, Tasmania, Guam, and Galapagos, bringing back tales of pygmy hippopotamuses, giant bird-catching spiders, and the scientists who study them, many of whom are looking for clues about species survival (including our own). All right, so it’s not Tom Clancy, but in the hands of Quammen, it’s close. B+

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