Exploring Darwin's Tapestry
John L. Hess
Narrated by Michael Brooks
Approximately 4 hours
Book published by University of Missouri Press
Charles Darwin arrived at the Galápagos Islands some three centuries after their discovery. Thousands of seafarers had been there before him, but in these islands Darwin found something more enduring than fresh water and tortoise meat. He found nourishment for an idea—an idea so powerful that its implications revised the place of humans in the universe and enriched every facet of science. Darwin tested and refined his idea for decades before he was persuaded to go public in 1859 by publishing The Origin of Species.
Today this remote archipelago is the destination of vast numbers of visitors who hope to see what Darwin saw and to experience the aura of this extraordinary place. The Galápagos ecosystem, a tapestry of living things, is probably the best preserved of any in the world. Like all ecosystems, it is made of many components that are interwoven and interdependent; Darwin’s idea explains how such tapestries are organized as well as how they are created.
Now, in insightful prose, The Galápagos: Exploring Darwin’s Tapestry opens the Galápagos experience to general readers. With an extensive background in ornithology and evolutionary ecology, a lifetime of experience as a naturalist and a photographer, and a deep respect for his subjects, John Hess has produced a celebration of these “Enchanted Islands.”
After describing the islands’ origins and the complex of physical forces that make the Galápagos so remarkable, Hess turns his attention to the most prominent habitats on the islands and to the plants and animals found there. He then focuses on the animals most encountered by visitors, animals that Hess presents as Galápagos royalty: the flightless cormorant, the marine iguana, the Galápagos tortoise, and others.
For Hess, the Galápagos are more than a tourist attraction, more than a shrine to science—they are a place of breathless awe. His book invites readers to share his affection for the islands and his appreciation of the exquisite beauty of Darwin’s tapestry.
John L. Hess is Emeritus Professor of Biology at the University of Central Missouri in Warrensburg.
“This is a beautifully illustrated and informative introduction to the life of Galápagos. It's just the book to get the overall picture, and to use as a guide if the reader is fortunate enough to visit this amazing archipelago.”
—Edward O. Wilson, University Research Professor Emeritus, Harvard University, and author of Creation: An Appeal to Save Life on Earth
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