The Monkey’s Voyage: How Improbable Journeys Shaped the History of Life

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As an evolutionary biologist the author explores a conundrum in the field of biogeography, the study of the distribution of the world’s flora and fauna. How did related animals and plants with common ancestors come to exist continents apart, separated by vast oceans as seen in related monkeys found both in South America and Africa? Prevailing theories looked to continental drift and plate tectonics as the explanation. Unfortunately, molecular dating techniques challenged these assumptions and currently long ocean voyages and hitchhiking critters seem to be the vehicle of choice. The author has a friendly, witty writing style and explains the complex details of the history of this dilemma in an entertaining and absorbing fashion, his style reminding one of the science writer David Quammen. The book serves as a rich review of evolutionary history with Darwin, Wegener, Gary Mullins, and so many other noteworthy figures outlined in the evolution of the debate. Each of the engrossing chapters, richly detailed and clearly explained, is followed by a short anecdote of natural life that parallels the described evidence. The author not only is an accomplished biologist, he is a skillful translator of scientific argot for the general reader. For those interested in evolution, and the history of science, this book is a must.


Reviewed By:

Author Alan de Queiroz
Star Count 5/5
Format Hard
Page Count 368 pages
Publisher Basic Books
Publish Date 2014-Jan-07
ISBN 9780465020515
Amazon Buy this Book
Issue March 2014
Category Science & Nature
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