Sunday, November 30, 2008

What's in a Name II

I am delighted to sign up for my daughter's new reading challenge, What's in a Name II. Here are some possibilities:

1. Profession: Darwin: the life of a tormented evolutionist by Desmond and Moore, Time traveler by Novacek

2. Time of Day: The search for Dawn Monkey by Beard, Night Prey by Sanford, Dawn of the Dinosaurs by Prothero.

3. Relative: Beyond Band of Brothers by Winters, Wifey by Judy Blume (no giggles, please, New Guinea tapeworms and Jewish Grandmothers by Desowitz

4. Body Part: Bones of contention by Chambers, Taking wing by Shipman, Fins into limbs by Hall.

5. Building: Welcome to the Monkey House by Vonnegut, The Haunting of Hill House by Jackson

6. Medical Condition: Musicophilia by Sacks, Death Trap by McDonald, Fates worse than death by Vonnegut

Thanks for the Challenge, Annie!

Monday, November 03, 2008

Miocene Apes: Here's what I think

I read The ape in the tree: an intellectual and natural history of Proconsul by Alan Walker and Pat Shipman, the husband and wife team from Penn State, which is my wife's alma mater and where my academic career got off to a very inauspicious beginning in 1984, but it wasn't all a bust because I met my wife who is my favorite person as well as my best friend. But, this isn't the time or the place to walk down memory lane. This was an interesting book. I read this for the What an Animal Challenge. The first part was a travelogue and discussion of the logistics of major paleological expeditions. This part of the book was interesting, but I was really itching to learn more about them miocene apes, which was the subject of the second half of the book. This part was enlightening and somewhat frustrating. I learned a bit about Proconsul and a few other early apes, but I was left really longing for more. I wanted more in depth natural history of all of the miocene apes, but I feel like I didn't get it in this book. I did enjoy the style and writing of the book. It was a nice fast read, but now I've got to dig deeper into the literature to learn more about my early ancestors.