Book Preview – The Monkey’s Voyage
I I became aware of this recently published book, again, through the National Center for Science Education. The book is called The Monkey’s Voyage: How Improbable Journeys Shaped the History of Life by Alan de Queiroz.
My first impression is that this is a gorgeous book. The cover slip is very heavy paper, not the thin flaky stuff. The cover art is great.
Then I read the included letter and press release about the book. I’ve never heard of Dr. de Queiroz, which is fine. Except for a few big names, whose papers I read regularly, I’m not “in the circles” of evolutionary biologists. Just doing some basic searches shows that he publishes quite a bit (which is normal) and several of his publications are cited quite a bit (several hundred).
Here’s my concern… and I hope that it will be answered in the book.
He is proposing a rather radical revision of how we view biogeography. Basically, biogeography is the science of the distribution and diversity of organisms on Earth. More specifically, it generally means how very similar organisms are on widely different continents. For example, closely related flightless birds exist in Africa, South America, and Australia/New Zealand.
His suggestion is that travel of organisms across oceans is more important than the rifting of continents and ocean spread in plate tectonics.
I just go the book today and it’s a hefty tome. There are 360 pages (with small type and not a lot of pictures) with an index, bibliography, and endnotes. I’ll be reading it over the next few weeks. I doubt it will be as interesting (and it’s certainly not as short) as The Accidental Species.
I’d also like to make a brief comment on my review of Darwin’s Doubt. I am mired in other, more interesting projects now. I’m sorry. Yes, Meyer burned me out. Hunting down multiple quotemines per page was a taxing requirement.
I hope, by now, everyone realizes just how sad Meyer’s book actually is. Even if Meyer manages to talk about the evidence that he claims elsewhere, I can’t see how anyone could consider his book to be useful… even if his notions are correct.
Anyone who makes that many mistakes (and it’s being charitable to call these mistakes, I really think that they are deliberate lies) in just a few chapters has some serious problems with scholarship.
If anyone has a specific page (or short range of pages) that they would like me to specifically comment on, then I think I’m done with that monstrosity.