This collection of essays ranges from history to the latest theories in biology, from controversies over palaeontology to the origins of language. The title is a pun and as always with Gould, the joke has a point that illustrates the largest pattern of life's history. For millennia, the animals that populated the Earth had four toes on each foot, or six. If evolution had taken a tiny shift - if man's ancestors had inherited a couple of genes in a different form - our canonical number, based on man's fingers and toes, might be eight instead of ten. Stephen Jay Gould has also written "Wonderful Life", "Bully for Brontosaurus" and "Finders Keepers".
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"Miraculously good" ( The Times)
"Remarkable... Gould takes his readers on tough-minded rambles across the visible surface of things... extraordinary" ( Guardian)
"Gould has a talent for making the scientific, and particularly the revolutionary, interesting and striking" ( Sunday Times)
"A lovely mixture of bizarre facts, nice arguments, clever insights into the workings of evolution and a quality of writing that can make your skin prickle... Gould has given us a feast" ( Nature)
"Rather than serving up his science cold, Gould invariably puts a spin on it, taking his readers down the innumerable byways of history, literature and personal anecdote along the route to his theoretical conclusions" ( Independent on Sunday)
This is the sixth in the great series of essays that the world's best science writer has produced. They range over a vast field, from history to the latest theories in biology, from controversies over palaeontology to the origins of language.
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