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For 65 million years dinosaurs ruled the Earth--until a deadly asteroid forced their extinction. But what accounts for the incredible longevity of dinosaurs? A renowned scientist now provides a startling explanation that is rewriting the history of the Age of Dinosaurs. Dinosaurs were pretty amazing creatures--real-life monsters that have the power to fascinate us. And their fiery Hollywood ending only serves to make the story that much more dramatic. But fossil evidence demonstrates that dinosaurs survived several mass extinctions, and were seemingly unaffected by catastrophes that decimated most other life on Earth. What could explain their uncanny ability to endure through the ages? Biologist and earth scientist Peter Ward now accounts for the remarkable indestructibility of dinosaurs by connecting their unusual respiration system with their ability to adapt to Earth's changing environment--a system that was ultimately bequeathed to their descendants, birds. By tracing the evolutionary path back through time and carefully connecting the dots from birds to dinosaurs, Ward describes the unique form of breathing shared by these two distant relatives and demonstrates how this simple but remarkable characteristic provides the elusive explanation to a question that has thus far stumped scientists. Nothing short of revolutionary in its bold presentation of an astonishing theory, Out of Thin Air is a story of science at the edge of discovery. Ward is an outstanding guide to the process of scientific detection. Audacious and innovative in his thinking, meticulous and thoroughly detailed in his research, only a scientist of his caliber is capable of telling this surprising story.
Epigenetics upends natural selection and genetic mutation as the sole engines of evolution, and offers startling insights into our future heritable traits.

In the 1700s, Jean-Baptiste Lamarck first described epigenetics to explain the inheritance of acquired characteristics; however, his theory was supplanted in the 1800s by Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection through heritable genetic mutations. But natural selection could not adequately explain how rapidly species re-diversified and repopulated after mass extinctions. Now advances in the study of DNA and RNA have resurrected epigenetics, which can create radical physical and physiological changes in subsequent generations by the simple addition of a single small molecule, thus passing along a propensity for molecules to attach in the same places in the next generation!

Epigenetics is a complex process, but paleontologist and astrobiologist Peter Ward breaks it down for general readers, using the epigenetic paradigm to reexamine how the history of our species--from deep time to the outbreak of the Black Plague and into the present--has left its mark on our physiology, behavior, and intelligence. Most alarming are chapters about epigenetic changes we are undergoing now triggered by toxins, environmental pollutants, famine, poor nutrition, and overexposure to violence.

Lamarck's Revenge is an eye-opening and controversial exploration of how traits are inherited, and how outside influences drive what we pass along to our progeny.
"During a long practice of over thirty years I have seen many things enacted here in this city of Montreal which, if told with the skill of a Dumas or a Collins, might not only astonish but startle the sedate residents of this Church-going community." With these words, Charlotte Fuhrer introduces her memoirs. Fuhrer, a midwife in Montreal during the second half of the 19th century, wrote her recollections in the form of highly scandalous moral tales. The stories offer vignettes of the course of love -- faithful and illicit -- in late 19th century urban Canada.

Fuhrer's stories are headed with such titillating titles as "A Just Retribution," the story of a prominent businessman's mistress who, after giving birth to her lover's child, "went from bad to worse, and finally took to smoking opium as a means to relieve her gnawing conscience, ending her days prematurely." Fuhrer was at the service of the high and mighty and desperate, and from her vantage point in the delivery room she offers remarkable insight into the most intimate life of Montreal.

Originally published in 1881, The Mysteries of Montreal is fully reprinted with an introduction by Peter Ward. Ward illuminates the life of Fuhrer and of midwives in Victorian Canada. He traces the role of the midwife through the ages and, placing Mrs. Fuhrer in the context of her times, discusses birth practices in a Canadian setting. As well, he examines the memoirs as a form of Canadian literature, assessing their reflections on 19th century society. As a result the book operates on more than one level. It is not only a midwife's recollections, but also an assemblage of gossip, moral tales, stories of courtship and birth practices, and even mild pornography.

Students of Canadian social history will be interested in the memoirs for their information on 19th century morals and values. The book will also appeal to students of medical history, women's studies, and Canadian literary criticism.

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