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A preview of The Darwinian Tourist

NCSE is pleased to offer a free preview (PDF) of Christopher Wills's The Darwinian Tourist: Viewing the World Through Evolutionary Eyes (Oxford University Press, 2010). The excerpt, chapter 1, takes a dive in Indonesia's Lembeh Strait as the chance to introduce the concept of common descent. Wills writes, "Surely no two organisms could be more dissimilar than the ingenious and graceful water-breathing cuttlefish and its clumsy air-gulping human observer. But in fact, even though present-day cuttlefish are expert shape-shifters and we are not, we had a common ancestor. And, at the time of that common ancestor, a far more astonishing shape-shift took place, one that had enormous evolutionary consequences."

The publisher writes, "In The Darwinian Tourist, biologist Christopher Wills takes us on a series of adventures — exciting in their own right — that demonstrate how ecology and evolution have interacted to create the world we live in. ... With his own stunning color photographs of the wildlife he discovered on his travels, Wills not only takes us to these far-off places but, more important, draws out the evolutionary stories behind the wildlife and shows how our understanding of the living world can be deepened by a Darwinian perspective. ... The reader comes away with a renewed sense of wonder about the world's astounding diversity, along with a new appreciation of the long evolutionary history that has led to the wonders of the present-day."