Here be dragons: how the study of animal and plant distributions revolutionized our views of life and earth.

Here be dragons: how the study of animal and plant distributions revolutionized our views of life and earth. Dennis McCarthy.

London: Oxford University Press, 2011. Octavo, line drawings and colour illustrations. Good copy in dustwrapper.

In this book, McCarthy tells the story of biogeography, from the 19th century to its growth into a major field of interdisciplinary research in the present day. It is a story that encompasses two great, insightful theories that were to provide the explanations to the strange patterns of life across the world - evolution, and plate tectonics. The story of biogeography is the story of how life has responded and has in turn altered the ever changing Earth. It is a narrative that includes many fascinating tales - of pygmy mammoths and elephant birds; of changing landscapes; of radical ideas by bold young scientists first dismissed and later, with vastly growing evidence, widely accepted. The story is not yet done: there are still questions to be answered and biogeography is a lively area of research and debate. But our view of the planet has been changed profoundly by biogeography and its related fields: the emerging understanding is of a deeply interconnected system in which life and physical forces interact dynamically in space and time.

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