In Why We Run, biologist, award-winning nature writer, and ultramarathoner Bernd Heinrich explores a new perspective on human evolution by examining the phenomenon of ultraendurance and makes surprising discoveries about the physical, spiritual -- and primal -- drive to win. At once lyrical and scientific, Why We Run shows Heinrich's signature blend of biology, anthropology, psychology, and philosophy, infused with his passion to discover how and why we can achieve superhuman abilities.
For thousands of years, the legend of a great flood has endured in the biblical story of Noah and in such Middle Eastern myths as the epic of Gilgamesh. Few believed that such a catastrophic deluge had actually occurred. But now two distinguished geophysicists have discovered an event that changed history, a sensational flood 7,600 years ago in what is today the Black Sea.
Ancient clay tablets excavated from the ruins of biblical Nineveh more than a hundred years ago revealed a much older version of the same flood legend. Archaeologists searched the length and breadth of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers in Mesopotamia for evidence of such a flood, to no avail. Then, as earth scientists made new discoveries about the history of rapid climate change, they learned that the Mediterranean had once been a desert and that five million years ago, the Atlantic Ocean burst through the Strait of Gibraltar and refilled the Mediterranean basin. William Ryan and Walter Pitman posed the scientific question "Could some more recent, similar catastrophe have been the source of Noah's Flood?"
The end of the Cold War enabled Ryan and Pitman to team up with oceanographers from Bulgaria and Russia, as well as Turkey, to explore the Black Sea. Using sound waves and coring devices to probe the sea floor, they discovered clear evidence that this inland body of water had once been a vast freshwater lake lying hundreds of feet below the level of the world's rising oceans. Sophisticated dating techniques confirmed that 7,600 years ago the mounting seas had burst through the narrow Bosporus valley, and the salt water of the Mediterranean had poured into the lake with unimaginable force, racing overbeaches and up rivers, destroying or chasing all life before it. The margins of the lake, which had been a unique oasis, a Garden of Eden for an advanced culture in a vast region of semidesert, became a sea of death. The people fled, never to return.
The authors explore the exciting archaeological, genetic, and linguistic evidence suggesting that the flood rapidly created a human diaspora that spread as far as Western Europe, Central Asia, China, Egypt, and the Persian Gulf. They suggest that the Black Sea People could well have been the mysterious proto-Sumerians, who developed the first great civilization in Mesopotamia, the source of our own.
Could the people who fled the Black Sea Flood and their descendants have preserved for thousands of years the stories that became the myths we know today? Ryan and Pitman show how illiterate storytellers in our own century still recited tales thousands of lines in length that had been transmitted down through the ages with remarkable fidelity. So, they argue, the mythology of the Great Flood is an oral narrative, preserving the memory of a traumatic event -- the great divide in human history.
"Noah's Flood" is solidly grounded in contemporary science. It is an astonishing story that sheds new light on our roots and gives fresh meaning to ancient myths.
Edward O. Wilson -- University Professor at Harvard, winner of two Pulitzer prizes, eloquent champion of biodiversity -- is arguably one of the most important thinkers of the twentieth century. His career represents both a blueprint and a challenge to those who seek to explore the frontiers of scientific understanding. Yet, until now, little has been told of his life and of the important events that have shaped his thought.In "Naturalist," Wilson describes for the first time both his growth as a scientist and the evolution of the science he has helped define. He traces the trajectory of his life -- from a childhood spent exploring the Gulf Coast of Alabama and Florida to life as a tenured professor at Harvard -- detailing how his youthful fascination with nature blossomed into a lifelong calling. He recounts with drama and wit the adventures of his days as a student at the University of Alabama and his four decades at Harvard University, where he has achieved renown as both teacher and researcher.As the narrative of Wilson's life unfolds, the reader is treated to an inside look at the origin and development of ideas that guide today's biological research. Theories that are now widely accepted in the scientific world were once untested hypotheses emerging from one mans's broad-gauged studies. Throughout "Naturalist," we see Wilson's mind and energies constantly striving to help establish many of the central principles of the field of evolutionary biology.The story of Wilson's life provides fascinating insights into the making of a scientist, and a valuable look at some of the most thought-provoking ideas of our time.
The Gal pagos is a truly special place. Unlike the rest of the world's archipelagoes, it still has 95 percent of its prehuman quota of species. Wildlife of the Gal pagos is the most superbly illustrated and comprehensive identification guide ever to the natural splendor of these incomparable islands--islands today threatened by alien species and diseases that have diminished but not destroyed what so enchanted Darwin on his arrival there in 1835. Covering over 200 commonly seen birds, mammals, reptiles, invertebrates, and plants, it reveals the archipelago's striking beauty through more than 400 color photographs, maps, and drawings and well-written, informative text.
While the Gal pagos Giant Tortoise, the Gal pagos Sea Lion, and the Flightless Cormorant are recognized the world over, these thirty-three islands--in the Pacific over 600 miles from mainland Ecuador--are home to many more unique but less famous species. Here, reptiles well outnumber mammals, for they were much better at drifting far from a continent the archipelago was never connected with; the largest native land mammals are rice rats. The islands' sixty resident bird species include the only penguin to breed entirely in the tropics and to inhabit the Northern Hemisphere.
There is a section offering tips on photography in the Equatorial sunlight, and maps of visitors' sites as well as information on the archipelago's history, climate, geology, and conservation. Wildlife of the Gal pagos is the perfect companion for anyone who wants to know what so delighted Darwin.
- Covers over 200 commonly seen species including birds, mammals, reptiles, invertebrates, plants, and coastal and marine life
- Illustrated with over 400 color photographs, maps, and drawings; includes maps of visitors' sites
- Written by wildlife experts with extensive knowledge of the area
- Includes information on the history, climate, geology, and conservation of the islands
- The most complete identification guide to the wildlife of the Gal pagos
The remarkable and unique ways that male and female animals play out gender roles in natureWhile we joke that men are from Mars and women are from Venus, our gender differences can't compare to those of many other animals. For instance, the male garden spider spontaneously dies after mating with a female more than fifty times his size. And male blanket octopuses employ a copulatory arm longer than their own bodies to mate with females that outweigh them by four orders of magnitude. Why do these gender gulfs exist? Introducing readers to important discoveries in animal behavior and evolution, Odd Couples explores some of the most extraordinary sexual differences in the animal world. Daphne Fairbairn uncovers the unique and bizarre characteristics of these remarkable species and the special strategies they use to maximize reproductive success. Fairbairn also considers humans and explains that although we are keenly aware of our own sexual differences, they are unexceptional within the vast animal world. Looking at some of the most amazing creatures on the planet, Odd Couples sheds astonishing light on what it means to be male or female in the animal kingdom.
Twenty thousand copies of the first edition of Gal pagos were sold. An attractive and comprehensive guidebook, this work has been completely revised and updated by the author. The reader will find an easy-to-use text which details the natural history of the plants and animals found in the Gal pagos Islands. Management and conservation of the Gal pagos National Park is discussed, and visitor information and notes about the various tourist sites are given. An index and checklist of plants and animals with page references and a glossary of technical terms are provided.
From the time of our earliest childhood encounters with animals, we casually ascribe familiar emotions to them. But scientists have long cautioned against such anthropomorphizing, arguing that it limits our ability to truly comprehend the lives of other creatures. Recently, however, things have begun to shift in the other direction, and anthropologist Barbara J. King is at the forefront of that movement, arguing strenuously that we can--and should--attend to animal emotions. With How Animals Grieve, she draws our attention to the specific case of grief, and relates story after story--from fieldsites, farms, homes, and more--of animals mourning lost companions, mates, or friends. King tells of elephants surrounding their matriarch as she weakens and dies, and, in the following days, attending to her corpse as if holding a vigil. A housecat loses her sister, from whom she's never before been parted, and spends weeks pacing the apartment, wailing plaintively. A baboon loses her daughter to a predator and sinks into grief. In each case, King uses her anthropological training to interpret and try to explain what we see--to help us understand this animal grief properly, as something neither the same as nor wholly different from the human experience of loss. The resulting book is both daring and down-to-earth, strikingly ambitious even as it's careful to acknowledge the limits of our understanding. Through the moving stories she chronicles and analyzes so beautifully, King brings us closer to the animals with whom we share a planet, and helps us see our own experiences, attachments, and emotions as part of a larger web of life, death, love, and loss.
Longlisted for the 2021 PEN/E.O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award
A Library Journal Best Science & Technology Book of 2020
A Publishers Weekly Best Nonfiction Book of 2020
2020 Goodreads Choice Award Semifinalist in Science & Technology