NCSE is pleased to offer a free preview (PDF) of a chapter from Carl Zimmer's latest book, The Tangled Bank (Roberts and Company, 2009). The chapter, "Radiations and Extinctions," addresses biodiversity; Zimmer writes, "In this chapter we'll examine how scientists study biodiversity, analyzing patterns over space and time and then creating hypotheses they can test. We'll explore how lineages of species grow, and then how they become extinct. We may, biologists fear, be in the early stages of a catastrophic bout of extinctions on a scale not seen for millions of years. By understanding the past of biodiversity, scientists can make some predictions about the future we are creating."
The Tangled Bank was described by E. O. Wilson as "the best written and best illustrated introduction to evolution of the Darwin centennial decade, and also the most conversant with ongoing research. It is excellent for students, the general public, and even other biologists." And NCSE Supporter Kenneth R. Miller praised it as "an extraordinary introduction to the depth and richness of evolutionary science." Zimmer is the author of a number of popular books about biology, including Evolution: The Triumph of an Idea (Harper Perennial, 2006), the companion volume to PBS's Evolution series; he also received NCSE's Friend of Darwin award for 2005.