Friday, April 13, 2018
1) Lister, Adrian. Darwin's Fossils: The Collection That Shaped the Theory of Evolution. 2018. Smithsonian Books. Paperback: 232 pages. Price: $19.95 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: Darwin's Fossils is an accessible account of Darwin's pioneering work on fossils, his adventures in South America, and his relationship with the scientific establishment.
While Darwin's research on Galápagos finches is celebrated, his work on fossils is less well known. Yet he was the first to collect the remains of giant extinct South American mammals; he worked out how coral reefs and atolls formed; he excavated and explained marine fossils high in the Andes; and he discovered a fossil forest that now bears his name. All of this research was fundamental in leading Darwin to develop his revolutionary theory of evolution.
This richly illustrated book brings Darwin's fossils, many of which survive in museums and institutions around the world, together for the first time. Including new photography of many of the fossils--which in recent years have enjoyed a surge of scientific interest--as well as superb line drawings produced in the nineteenth century and newly commissioned artists' reconstructions of the extinct animals as they are understood today, Darwin's Fossils reveals how Darwin's discoveries played a crucial role in the development of his groundbreaking ideas.
RECOMMENDATION: A well illustrated overview of the topic.
2) Olina, Pietro. Pasta for Nightingales: A 17th-Century Handbook of Bird-Care and Folklore. 2018. Yale University Press. Hardbound: 133 pages. Price: $22.50 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: The first-ever English translation of a seventeenth-century ornithology text, complete with historic watercolor illustrations.
This beautifully illustrated book brings together the newly commissioned, first-ever English translation of one of the earliest studies in ornithology with the original watercolors, now part of the British Royal Collection, that provided the inspiration for its engraved illustrations. The watercolors, created for the “Paper Museum” of the seventeenth-century scholar and art collector Cassiano dal Pozzo, are here combined with the translated text of amateur naturalist Pietro Olina’s original Uccelliera of 1622 to create a new work that provides a fascinating glimpse of ornithology’s earliest days—a period when folklore informed natural history studies as much as science did.
With meditations on the “epileptic” robin redbreast and a recipe for chickpea pasta meant to satisfy a nightingale and keep it in song, this work is an enchanting re-presentation of natural history literature. Retaining the character of Olina’s original design, this unique book describes over forty much-loved species, and is sure to please bird watchers, naturalists, and antiquarian book lovers alike.
RECOMMENDATION: For those with an interest in historical ornithological texts.