This book is about evolution, but not its greatest hits. Consider that an elephant will not grow a seventh set of teeth, even though wearing down the sixth will condemn it to starvation; that male mandarin ducks sport bright-orange feathers that attract not just females but also predators; and as for whales Whales are fully aquatic mammals who, millions of years after first abandoning the land, still cannot breathe underwater.
Packed with anecdotes and curious facts, Flaws of Nature explores everything in the animal kingdom that is self-defeating, ill-made, uneconomical or downright weird and explains how natural selection has favoured it. In the grand struggle for survival, some surprising patterns emerge: animals are always slightly out-of-date; inefficiency tends to increase over time; predators usually lose and parasites usually win. With equal parts humour and scientific insight, Andy Dobson is here to explain the how and why of evolutions greatest mistakes.
After a first-class degree in Ecology from Durham, Andy Dobson completed a PhD at Nottingham, before joining the University of Oxford’s Zoology Department. Most recently, he took up a research post at Edinburgh University to apply data-science techniques to anti-poaching efforts. He is currently a freelance scientific copy editor, and remains a Visiting Academic at Edinburgh.