Sherry MacDonald

  • Darwin's Dreampond

    Darwin's Dreampond

    Drama in Lake Victoria

    Sherry MacDonald, Uitgeverji Prometheus, and Tijs Goldschmidt

    This book tells the evolutionary story of the extraordinary "furu" and the battlefield leading to extinction.

    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's adventures 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.

    • Hardcover $40.00
    • Paperback $6.75 £5.99

Contributor

  • The Evolving Animal Orchestra

    The Evolving Animal Orchestra

    In Search of What Makes Us Musical

    Henkjan Honing

    A music researcher's quest to discover other musical species.

    Even those of us who can't play a musical instrument or lack a sense of rhythm can perceive and enjoy music. Research shows that all humans possess the trait of musicality. We are a musical species—but are we the only musical species? Is our musical predisposition unique, like our linguistic ability? In The Evolving Animal Orchestra, Henkjan Honing embarks upon a quest to discover if humans share the trait of musicality with other animals.

    Charles Darwin believed that musicality was a capacity of all animals, human and nonhuman, with a clear biological basis. Taking this as his starting point, Honing—a music cognition researcher—visits a series of biological research centers to observe the ways that animals respond to music. He has studied scientists' accounts of Snowball, the cockatoo who could dance to a musical beat, and of Ronan, the sea lion, who was trained to move her head to a beat. Now Honing will be able to make his own observations.

    Honing tests a rhesus monkey for beat perception via an EEG; performs a listening experiment with zebra finches; considers why birds sing, and if they intend their songs to be musical; explains why many animals have perfect pitch; and watches marine mammals respond to sounds. He reports on the unforeseen twists and turns, doubts, and oversights that are a part of any scientific research—and which point to as many questions as answers. But, as he shows us, science is closing in on the biological and evolutionary source of our musicality.

    • Hardcover $27.95 £22.50