The Panda’s Thumb:
More Reflections in Natural History
With a touch of humor, geology, evolutionary theory, biology, cartoon characters and even some references to baseball, The Panda’s Thumb definitely makes excellent reading for people with all types of interests. The old cliché, “Don’t judge a book by its cover,” or in this case, title, holds true for The Panda’s Thumb. Theories concerning adaptations of the panda are only a fraction of the many exciting facts held within the pages of this publication. Gould is able to put what he writes about in words that are easy to understand without compromising the quality of the information. Many questions are raised in this book. Some questions that science just can’t answer at the moment. Time is a major theme in some of the essays in The Panda’s Thumb. I found these essays of utmost interest.
Stephen Jay Gould writes as if you were sitting in a chair across from him having an insightful conversation. His essays are written in ways that are down-to-earth, entertaining, and easy to understand. Bits of humor are scattered throughout the book. One passage read, “The history of any one part of the earth, like the life of a soldier, consists of long periods of boredom and short periods of terror.” These little scraps of humor are placed in the just the right locations. After reading one of his essays concerning bipedalism (walking on two feet) I chuckled at the following statement, “It is now two in the morning and I’m finished [writing]. I think I’ll walk over to the refrigerator…then I’ll go to sleep. Culture-bound creature that I am, the dream that I will have in an hour or so when I’m supine astounds me ever so much more then the stroll I will now perform perpendicular to the floor.”
Questions raised in The Panda’s Thumb run the gamut. They range from: Were dinosaurs dumb? To… How does the evolution of Mickey Mouse relate to that of humans? To… Why can’t Coenobita diogenes (the proper name for a large...