How the zebra got its stripes: and other Darwinian just so stories.

How the zebra got its stripes: and other Darwinian just so stories. Leo Grasset, Barbar Mellor.

London: Profile Books, 2016. Octavo, photographs, illustrations, maps, dustwrapper.

Why do giraffes have such long necks? Why are zebras striped? Why are buffalo herds broadly democratic while elephants prefer dictatorships? Deploying the latest scientific research and his own extensive observations on the African savannah, Leo Grasset offers some answers to these and many other intriguing questions. Having shown that natural phenomena are rarely simple and that often they get more complex the more you look at them, he brings to bear a mix of evolutionary biology and lateral thinking to explain the mysteries of animal behaviour in terms that are simple but never simplifying. He ends by considering how our origins in the savannah and evolution as the hybrid of several species can shapes our habits. Leo Grasset is one of France's brightest young natural scientists. Prepare to be fascinated, delighted, surprised, shocked and, above all, entertained by his brilliantly original Darwinian Just So stories.

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