One of the joys of going to meetings is browsing new science books in the exhibit hall. At the ESA meeting earlier this month, one book I found was In The Light of Evolution, which I ended up reading the whole way home and am still picking up many nights. Edited by the evolutionary biologist Jonathan Losos, the book features a wide-ranging collection of biological stories, each tinged with evolutionary thinking. The chapters are written by the people who helped discover each story, and it’s obvious that a lot of effort went into making the writing very accessible.
Among my favorites was a chapter on what we know about humans evolving to stand on two legs, by Daniel Lieberman, and how this is related to our prodigious ability to sweat (I never realized sweating was such an unusual trait). Another nice story by David Reznick talks about his studies on how guppy life histories change in different streams – perhaps I like this one because it would make a great complementary reading to our How The Guppy Got It’s Spots lab. I also really enjoyed reading about co-evolution between garter snakes and the super poisonous rough skin newts by Edmund Brodie III, complete with descriptions of how to make snakes barf up their last meal (a study we also discuss in our Predation, Herbivory, and Parasitism chapter – though I didn’t know before about the amusing data gathering techniques). And there’s many more, most of which are similarly engaging.
If you need some cool, well written evolution stories for one of your classes, I’d definitely recommend looking over In the Light of Evolution.