In essays like “How to Fake Faking,” and the title essay, “The Other Left Side: the Phenomenon of Left and Right in Evolution,” Tijs Goldschmidt shatters our expectations of what a scientific essay is and then rebuilds it in intensely personal, artful and wry ways. Goldschmidt has won the top awards in Holland and is well known internationally within the field of science writing. Now for the first time available in English, his essays crackle with insight and joy at the discoveries to be made in the world in which we live—whether comparing the courtship rituals of men on the dance floor to the springtime courtship rituals of Eurasian wading birds, or visiting Hitler’s watercolors in the vault of the US Army Center of Military History in Washington, DC, or noting how clumsy swifts are when brooding on land, or writing fascinatingly about left- and right-handedness.
In the tradition of Stephen Jay Gould and Lewis Thomas, a gorgeous book of essays steeped in current evolutionary thought, one that invites readers to delight in our evolutionary present. This is a book for any reader, one that turns the deep currents of contemporary evolutionary biology into something to be savored and enjoyed by all.
Darwin's Dreampond: Drama in Lake Victoria3.67 · Rating details · 96 Ratings · 6 Reviews
"Tijs Goldschmidt has trapped a ghost image in this solid and highly perceptive work - the glorious, haunting, and indecipherable complexity of biological life. Goldschmidt also shows us, however, that the human desire both to understand and to exploit such life is equally thought-provoking. Thus does Darwin's Dreampond become a first rate account of a modern scientist's f"Tijs Goldschmidt has trapped a ghost image in this solid and highly perceptive work - the glorious, haunting, and indecipherable complexity of biological life. Goldschmidt also shows us, however, that the human desire both to understand and to exploit such life is equally thought-provoking. Thus does Darwin's Dreampond become a first rate account of a modern scientist's field work among the cychlids and the Sukuma people of Lake Victoria." -- Barry Lopez
Dazzling in their variety of sizes, shapes, and colors, the cichlids (small perch-like fishes) of Lake Victoria, like the finches of the Galapagos Islands and Hawaii's Honeycreepers, have been geographically isolated long enough to undergo unusually broad speciation. These small fish form a species flock -- closely related species that have descended from a common ancestor and radiated, or fanned, into different specializations -- that is the most spectacular in the world, fascinating anatomists, ecologists, ethologists, and evolutionary biologists alike. The process of speciation was still under way until just recently, when the introduction of the large, predatory Nile perch so disrupted the Lake's intricate ecosystem that the glorious spectrum of cichlids has almost vanished. Darwin's Dreampond tells the evolutionary story of the extraordinary "furu" and the battlefield leading to extinction. Tijs Goldschmidt skillfully blends a masterful discussion of the principles of neo-Darwinian evolution and speciation with a history of Lake Victoria's ecosystem. The science unfolds in the context of the engaging first-person narrative of Goldschmidt'sadventures and misadventures as a field researcher. An astute observer and a clear and witty writer, he warmly portrays the colors and textures of the landscapes and the lives of the local people as he interacts with them during the course of his fieldwork....more
Paperback, 274 pages
Published March 2nd 1998 by MIT Press (first published 1994)