The Variety of Life: A Survey and a Celebration of All the Creatures that Have Ever Lived

The Variety of Life: A Survey and a Celebration of All the Creatures that Have Ever LivedHere, Between The Covers Of One Capacious Book, Is An Illustrated Summary Of All The Creatures That Have Ever Lived, A Vast Compendium Of Earth S Current And Former Inhabitants In All Their Dazzling And Infinite Diversity Colin Tudge Argues That We Are Entering A New Phase Of Biology In Which, For The First Time, Biologists Are Achieving Profound Insight Into Life S True Diversity And Developing The Tools To Keep Track Of It The Variety Of Life Heralds This New Phase The First Part Of The Book Describes Why Biologists Now Feel That There Could Have Been As Many As , Billion Species On Earth Since Life Began It Then Discusses The Need For Classification, Beginning With The Most Basic Principles The Strictly Practical Classification Of Fishmongers And Foresters, Who Speak Of Shellfish And Differentiate Hardwood From Softwood And Moves On To Explore The Intriguing Deliberations Of The Modern Transformed Cladists And The Novel Contributions Of Molecular Genetics Part II Describes The Creatures Themselves It Is Divided Into Sections, Each Describing A Different Group, Illustrated By Nearly Double Page Spreads Which Present Genealogical Trees That Summarize The Evolutionary Relationships Between The Creatures In Each Group Some Sections Describe Large, Comprehensive Groups Such As The Kingdoms Of The Animals Or The Plants Others Treat Similar Sub Groups In Detail, Such As The Mammals, A Class, Or The Hominids, A Family In Lively And Accessible Prose, All The Significant Groups Of Creatures Both Alive And Extinct Are Described And Their Relationships Clarified For General Readers And Serious Biologists Alike, The Variety Of Life Offers An Unprecedented Storehouse Of Knowledge Of Life On Earth

Colin Tudge was educated at Dulwich College, 1954 61 and read zoology at Peterhouse, Cambridge, 1962 65 Since 1965 he has worked on journals such as World Medicine, New Scientist and Pan, the newspaper of the World Food Conference held in Rome, 1974.Ever since then he has earned a living by spasmodic broadcasting and a lot of writing mainly books these days, but with occasional articles He has

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  • Hardcover
  • 684 pages
  • The Variety of Life: A Survey and a Celebration of All the Creatures that Have Ever Lived
  • Colin Tudge
  • English
  • 13 January 2018
  • 9780198503118

10 thoughts on “The Variety of Life: A Survey and a Celebration of All the Creatures that Have Ever Lived

  1. says:

    This is one of those books you can t read cover to cover it s made for hours upon hours of dipping into the delicious details, sampling the forms life has taken down through the aeons and the intricate branchings of Earth s 4 billion year old Tree of Life Rather than giving exhaustive studies of genera and species of organisms, the author describes the major taxa kingdoms, phyla, classes and divisions, orders, and families of Earth s countless creatures, and the ways in which they are related to one another, a sort of geography of the major land forms of life that have come and gone, split up and diversified and gone extinct, on Earth over billions of years He also gives some idea of the environments which Earth s life has occupied during its tenure in the universe, showing how organisms have adapted to the conditions of their world, and how sudden, catastrophic changes of micro and macroenvironments have caused mass extinctions An absolute must for the library of anyone who is at all interested in natural history and the life sciences.

  2. says:

    This book sits proudly on my bookshelf I found this almost magical It really does make you apppreciate the true variety of life.

  3. says:

    This was probably one of the better summaries of evolution when it was first published like 20 years ago Unfortunately, it seems a little outdated at this point There s also a ton of typos and some really bad mistakes Just to give a few examples of what I mean, when talking about dandelions he says that dandelion and chicory root can be used as a substitute for coffee because they contain caffeine like materials but they re actually both totally caffeine free Any increase in energy is just from the health benefits People basically just use them as a substitute because they taste similar On another page he calls Costa Rica an island When he gets into the evolution of the human brain there s no mention of the changes in diet that gave us energy, particularly eating meat and cooking our food Things like these really make me question how much else is off Even though I ve been interested in this subject matter for a long time, I m far from being an expert on this stuff so who knows how many other mistakes I read without realizing they were mistakes That makes it kind of hard for me to recommend this to anyone, which is too bad because I do like this author as a person He says a lot of good things in the intro and conclusion about the problems we re facing as a species He also started an organization called The Campaign for Real Farming, which sounds like a good agroecology project I ll be looking into that later.

  4. says:

    B Interesting and a good reference.

  5. says:

    In other readings on evolution and biology I kept running into the classification methodology known as cladistics In most if not all cases, those books or online sources all assumed a knowledge of the rules and terminology of cladistics and it was difficult at times for me 64 and not a scientist to follow what was being said This book starts out with wonderful analogies to help explain both the development and terminology of cladistics starting with Aristotle and continuing through Owen, Darwin, Linnaeus, and finally Hennig.I had no idea of how passe the old Kingdoms of Plants, Animals and Fungus had become This heavy physically and figuratively tome outlines the battle between the old Linnaean classification system and the new cladistic system based on phylogeny It is amazing, after 400 years of analysis, the degree to which the classification and relationships of numerous groups of both living and extinct life forms are uncertain, and are only now being slowly sorted out with the help of molecular biology.After the introduction, things slow down a bit as the author begins a tour of the family tree of life Some branches are interesting than others If you re not that much interested in, for example, slime molds actually quite interesing you can skip them.The epilogue was a bit of a surprise It described how the Earth is in the early stages of a demographic winter that will likely last a 1,000 years The population of humans is likely to increase double until 2050 at which point it MAY level off but stay at levels much too high to avoid extinctions of countless species, both large and small The author offers a plea to commit to preserving habitat and using captive breeding to get as many members of all the major families on the phylogenetic tree through the winter The levels of human population that he suggests will exist in 1,000 years are amazing.

  6. says:

    A very thorough and complete book about taxonomy and biodiversity It covers topics such as Carl Woese s revolutionary classification system, and although it is a relatively old book, the information that it provides about taxonomy is current than every other academic book that I have ever read I especially liked how 37 different kingdoms have been discussed in the book, in contrast to the 5 kingdom system that is generally thought in most universities.Please note that certain chapters of this book are meant to be treated as you would a reference book.Back in the year 2000, reading this book turned out to be a life changing experience for me partly because I learnt to look at life differently, and partly because it confirmed one of my earlier theories when I was in junior high that the professors of the Khwarizmi scientific festival board had dismissed.

  7. says:

    Did you read the sub title A nearly incredible accomplishment A spirited reading reference book that I pick up very regularly.

  8. says:

    Great book, very well laid out and a breeze to read Bought it in my first year of university and it was a handy reference book and nice to flick through

  9. says:

    I never get tired of this book Hoping for a revised edition showing all we ve learned over the past decade or so It s animal centric, but considering the audience that s forgivable.

  10. says:

    I have learned a lot about the diversity of life, the history of ideas around this and also the evolutionary relationships of organisms.

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