- Paperback: 352 pages
- Publisher: WW Norton (Sept. 1 1992)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0393308197
- ISBN-13: 978-0393308198
- Product Dimensions: 14.2 x 2.5 x 21.1 cm
- Shipping Weight: 181 g
- Average Customer Review: 10 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #216,481 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Pandas Thumb Paperback – Sep 1 1992
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It is a wonder what Mr. Gould can do with the most unlikely phenomena: a tiny organism's use of the earth's magnetic field as a guide to food and comfort, for instance, or the panda's thumb—which isn't one…Science writing at its best. — The New Yorker
Stephen Jay Gould is a serious and gifted interpreter of biological theory, of the history of ideas, and of the cultural context of scientific discovery…The Panda's Thumb is fresh and mind-stretching. Above all, it is exultant. So should its readers be. — H. Jack Geiger (New York Times Book Review)
Gould can do no wrong…As long as he writes, you cannot help but read—and enjoy. — Isaac Asimov
About the Author
Stephen Jay Gould (1941-2002) was the Alexander Agassiz Professor of Zoology and Professor of Geology at Harvard University. He published over twenty books, received the National Book and National Book Critics Circle Awards, and a MacArthur Fellowship.
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One of the essays here dealt with Richard Dawkins' controversial stand (in The Selfish Gene) on genes in which he states that a person is just a gene's way to make another gene. (This is different from normal evolutionary thought in that genes there are the subject of random variation which then is subject to the environment and tested.) Gould is not convinced by Dawkins' theory, mainly because, he says, there is no evidence that genes can be linked to specific attributes, i.e., there isn't an "eye" gene. Gould wrote this some years back, so it will be interesting to see if he revisits this subject now that researchers have indeed discovered the "eye" gene (through testing on flies).
Gould also covers Robert Bakker's theories about warm-blooded dinosaurs (later written up in Bakker's The Dinosaur Heresies) and the link to birds, a good essay for people to review prior to the hullabaloo that will follow Jurassic Park 2 (it's always fun to check up on an author's source material).
It has a 1980 original publication date. Perhaps because of this date there is very little about DNA and nothing about HLA and tissue-typing. I shall check his later books to see if he ever got up-to-date on these. (He died a month ago). He was concerned to defend his field as being real science against "haughty and high-riding mathematicians and experimentalists." In fact this sort of biology seems more akin to history and archeology than to hard science, but that adds to its readability rather than detracts from it.
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