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Hens Teeth And Horses Toes [Paperback]

Stephen Jay Gould
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Feb. 1 1994 0393311031 978-0393311037 Reissue
What color is a zebra? Does the changing size of a Hershey bar hold a lesson of adaptive significance? Did an asteroid bring mass extinction to the earth 65 million years ago? Why do animals walk, fly, swim and slither but never roll? Human beings not withstanding, why are the females of most species larger than the males?

Behind each question and each answer lie concepts central to science and in particular to an understanding of evolution, the centerpiece of biology. Science is the art of the doable, and the science of evolutionary biology has changed our view of the world. It is important to remember that natural selection is not a perfecting principle, but a means of making sense of our earth as we find it today.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars As always, Remarkable Aug. 3 2003
Format:Paperback
I admit it, I'm a Stephen Jay Gould fan. As always, it was delightful to lay back and read each and every one of the essays in this book. This is not just science, this is reason, objectivity, philosophy and history (at least). Stephen's prose is remarkable, his style is so unique, something in between nineteen and twentieth century. Although this book is not new, Stephen is profound in every aspect and so meticulous in his work that ten or twenty years from now you can read it again and still learn something from it. If you like science, evolution or biology, even if you just enjoy good, logical and profound arguments, I guarantee you will like this book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Hen's Teeth and Horse's Toes Aug. 19 2002
Format:Paperback
Hen's Teeth and Horse's Toes written by Stephen Jay Gould introduces the reader to the many and wonderful manifestations of evolutionary biology in this book of essays. Gould wrote many essays for "Natural History" and this book covers thirty of those essays as he takes us on an evolution ride of a tour de force magnitude.
Gould is unparalled when it comes to taking complicated theory and having the ability to evoke enlightenment to the general mass public as he brings a passion to his explanations and an understanding par excellence. Reading Gould's rather convesational tone in this book brings a wealth of information to the reader in a painless fashion.
Gould is truly a natural philosopher when it comes to spinning a story as he brings to the table a wealth of information as you read and the conclusion comes to you in a rather lively and fascinating manor. Gould has hit his stride with these essays.
This book was a joy to read and educational, bringing the reader witty learned sense making you follow till you see his conclusion. The prose flows well and you will feel that you are in capable hands as you are guided throughout the book.
Was this review helpful to you?
4.0 out of 5 stars Science reading for non-science people. Sept. 29 2000
Format:Paperback
I was originally assigned to read "The Mismeasure of Man" in a college science course. Science has never been my strongest subject, nor did I find it particularly interesting, but I really liked that book, for the same reasons I like this one. The topics are highly engaging. Gould's writing style is conversational, and his enthusiasm for the subject is infectious. I am devouring this text, and have every intention of looking into more Gould titles after this...
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.8 out of 5 stars  8 reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars What, if anything, is a zebra? Jan. 8 2007
By D. Cloyce Smith - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Like any collection of essays republished from other sources, this one--the third of many such anthologies from Gould--is a mixed bag. All but three pieces originally appeared in "Natural History" magazine, but Gould updated many of them with postscripts incorporating responses to and criticism of the original articles.

The range, as always, is impressive: tours of the controversies and unforgettable characters that pepper the history of science; examinations of the politics of science (which, sadly, hasn't changed much in 25 years) and the threats to teaching posed by creationists; explorations in paleontology and evolutionary theory; and some dabblings in "hard science" that might leave a few folks scratching their heads. There's even a typical Gould curio reminiscent of his essays on baseball: an analysis of the inexorable trend towards smaller Hershey bars. The only truly outdated essays are those which focus on genetics and the discovery of the structure of DNA.

For me, the defining moment in this collection is the question posed by Gould: "Is a zebra a white animal with black stripes or a black animal with white stripes?" It's really a damn good question, but to be honest, such a problem would never have crossed my mind. (I feel doltish for not even knowing that there are three species of zebra.) Gould's certainly not the first biologist to consider the issue, but he's surely the first to offer for the everyday reader not one, but three easily understood and (one might even say) riveting essays on "striped horses." And that's just what makes Gould's works so worthwhile: a charming combination of his fascination with history, his inquisitiveness about nature (especially in areas "outside his expertise"), and the patience needed to write clearly about such matters for the non-scientist.
12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hen's Teeth and Horse's Toes Aug. 19 2002
By Joe Zika - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Hen's Teeth and Horse's Toes written by Stephen Jay Gould introduces the reader to the many and wonderful manifestations of evolutionary biology in this book of essays. Gould wrote many essays for "Natural History" and this book covers thirty of those essays as he takes us on an evolution ride of a tour de force magnitude.
Gould is unparalled when it comes to taking complicated theory and having the ability to evoke enlightenment to the general mass public as he brings a passion to his explanations and an understanding par excellence. Reading Gould's rather convesational tone in this book brings a wealth of information to the reader in a painless fashion.
Gould is truly a natural philosopher when it comes to spinning a story as he brings to the table a wealth of information as you read and the conclusion comes to you in a rather lively and fascinating manor. Gould has hit his stride with these essays.
This book was a joy to read and educational, bringing the reader witty learned sense making you follow till you see his conclusion. The prose flows well and you will feel that you are in capable hands as you are guided throughout the book.
12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars As always, Remarkable Aug. 3 2003
By Sergio A. Salazar Lozano - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I admit it, I'm a Stephen Jay Gould fan. As always, it was delightful to lay back and read each and every one of the essays in this book. This is not just science, this is reason, objectivity, philosophy and history (at least). Stephen's prose is remarkable, his style is so unique, something in between nineteen and twentieth century. Although this book is not new, Stephen is profound in every aspect and so meticulous in his work that ten or twenty years from now you can read it again and still learn something from it. If you like science, evolution or biology, even if you just enjoy good, logical and profound arguments, I guarantee you will like this book.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My first, and still my favorite March 4 2010
By Sabad One - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is the first of the many of Gould's book that I have read over the years. I remember being captivated by by essays' titles and by the book description on the back cover of a cheap Italian translation published by Feltrinelli. I think it was the summer of 1990, just before starting college, and I recall reading this book while on vacation with my grandparents in the Alps. You get the idea. A wonderful book for a wonderful summer, and maybe that's why this remains to date my favorite Gould.

Interesting, full of surprises, readable and at the same time deep and well-researched (unlike some scientists-writers, Gould rarely if ever "dumbed down" a topic). Also, this being one of his early books, Gould was not yet (let me say it) as self-obsessed and self-adoring as in all his last writings, which I find a little bit obnoxious.

The chapters on Theilard de Chardin read like a mystery thriller. The chapters on the "monkey trial" should be compulsory reading for anyone with an interest in the evolution-creationism-ID debate. The section on the big impact of small mutations are brilliant and among the most interesting essays I have read. After this book, I was hooked and ended up reading most of Gould's popular science, but this still remains my favorite collection. Highly highly recommended to anyone with an interest in biology/zoology/evolution. These essays will keep you usefully entertained for hours, and will make your brain happy.
5.0 out of 5 stars Gould always is a good read Feb. 10 2013
By Katie - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Another excellent Gould book. I've loved every book. I recommend this to anyone interested in facts and new ideas. 5 stars
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