The Darwinian Tourist: Viewing the World Through Evolutionary Eyes

Wills, Christopher

Published by Oxford University Press
ISBN 10: 0199584389 / ISBN 13: 9780199584383
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In The Darwinian Tourist, biologist Christopher Wills takes us on a series of adventures--exciting in their own right--that demonstrate how ecology and evolution have interacted to create the world we live in.

Some of these adventures, like his SCUBA dives in the incredibly diverse Lembeh Strait in Indonesia or his encounter with a wild wolf cub in western Mongolia, might have been experienced by any reasonably intrepid traveller. Others, like his experience of being hammered by a severe earthquake off the island of Yap while sixty feet down in the ocean, filming manta rays, stand far outside the ordinary. With his own stunning color photographs of the wildlife he discovered on his travels, Wills not only takes us to these far-off places but, more important, draws out the evolutionary stories behind the wildlife and shows how our understanding of the living world can be deepened by a Darwinian perspective. In addition, the book offers an extensive and unusual view of human evolution, examining the entire sweep of our evolutionary story as it has taken place throughout the Old World. The reader comes away with a renewed sense of wonder about the world's astounding diversity, along with a new appreciation of the long evolutionary history that has led to the wonders of the present day. When we lose a species or an ecosystem, Wills shows us, we also lose many millions of years of history.

Published to coincide with the International Year for Biodiversity, The Darwinian Tourist is packed with globe-trotting exploits, brilliant color photography, and eye-opening insights into the evolution of humanity and the natural world.

Take a Look Inside The Darwinian Tourist
With his own stunning color photographs of the wildlife he encountered, Wills not only takes us to these far-off places but, more important, draws out the evolutionary stories behind the wildlife and shows how our understanding of the living world can be deepened by a Darwinian perspective.


A manta ray, Manta birostris, off the coast of Yap, a remote Micronesian island. Mantay rays roam throughout the tropical waters of the world, typically around coral reefs, and are known for their gentle nature. After filming this, Wills was caught up in an underwater earthquake.

In a valley in western Mongolia, a wild wolf-cub becomes a pet for local children. The process of animal domestication is played out before our eyes, in the very place where genetic evidence shows that some of the first dogs were tamed.

The dull grey sand of Indonesia?s Lembeh Strait is home to vividly beautiful creatures like the boxer shrimp, Odontodactylus scyllarus, whose claws move so quickly through the water that cavitation bubbles form in their wake. As the bubbles collapse they generate flashes of light.

The Batek tribespeople live on the edge of Taman Negara National Park in peninsular Malaysia. These people are descendants of the first modern humans to traverse the peninsula, on humankind?s longest journey ?out of Africa.?

A Curculonid weevil from the Mulu forest of Sarawak. These beetles use their sensitive antennae to home in on chemical signals from other members of the same species. They make holes in saplings to lay their eggs.

Tropical forests like the Danum Valley in central Sabah, Borneo are some of the world?s most complex ecosystems, and yet at first sight it is not obvious how they can harbor the many different ecological niches that have led to an explosion of animal and plant speciation.

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Title: The Darwinian Tourist: Viewing the World ...
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Binding: Hardcover
Book Condition: New

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