Diatoms to Dinosaurs: The Size and Scale of Living Things

Diatoms to Dinosaurs: The Size and Scale of Living Things
by Chris McGowan

(Illus. by Julian Mulock)
Island Press
Glossary; Index
C, T, GA **


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Chris McGowan's fascinating text, Diatoms to Dinosaurs, melds together many facets of evolutionary biology to explain the complex interrelationship between animal body size and survival. In an extremely accessible and anecdotal style reminiscent of that employed by Stephen Jay Gould, McGowan explores the effective relationship between, on the one hand, animal body size and, on the other, metabolism, strength, and life expectancy throughout evolutionary history. In so doing, he utilizes numerous animal ecology models, literally from diatoms to dinosaurs and on to vertebrates. His treatment of the relation of animal brain size to intellectual ability, as well as the successful application of physical laws and evolved structural components such as feathers and fins to an animal's flight dynamics and swimming abilities, is particularly mesmerizing. The numerous illustrations and drawings superbly complement the riveting text. I highly recommend this excellent book equally to the armchair popular science aficionado and the undergraduate or graduate-level evolutionary biologist or ecologist as a satisfying and enjoyable read.

--Reviewed by Robert R. J. Grispino in Science Books and Films, 31/2 (March 1995), p. 39.