Book ID: CBB991680941

Collecting Evolution: The Galapagos Expedition that Vindicated Darwin (2017)


James, Matthew J. (Author)

Oxford University Press

Publication Date: 2017
Physical Details: 304 pages
Language: English

In 1905, eight men from the California Academy of Sciences set sail from San Francisco for a scientific collection expedition in the Galapagos Islands, and by the time they were finished in 1906, they had completed one of the most important expeditions in the history of both evolutionary and conservation science. These scientists collected over 78,000 specimens during their time on the islands, validating the work of Charles Darwin and laying the groundwork for foundational evolution texts like Darwin's Finches. Despite its significance, almost nothing has been written on this voyage, lost amongst discussion of Darwin's trip on the Beagle and the writing of David Lack.In Collecting Evolution, author Matthew James finally tells the story of the 1905 Galapagos expedition. James follows these eight young men aboard the Academy to the Galapagos and back, and reveals the reasons behind the groundbreaking success they had. A current Fellow of the California Academy of Sciences, James uses his access to unpublished writings and photographs to provide unprecedented insight into the expedition. We learn the voyagers' personal stories, and how, for all the scientific progress that was made, just as much intense personal drama unfolded on the trip. This book shares a watershed moment in scientific history, crossed with a maritime adventure. There are four tangential suicides and controversies over credit and fame. Collecting Evolution also explores the personal lives and scientific context that preceded this voyage, including what brought Darwin to the Galapagos on the Beagle voyage seventy years earlier. James discusses how these men thought of themselves as "collectors" before they thought of themselves as scientists, and the implications this had on their approach and their results.In the end, the voyage of the Academy proved to be crucial in the development of evolutionary science as we know it. It is the longest expedition in Galapagos history, and played a critical role in cementing Darwin's legacy. Collecting Evolution brings this extraordinary story of eight scientists and their journey to life.

Reviewed By

Review Eleanor Larsson (2019) Review of "Collecting Evolution: The Galapagos Expedition that Vindicated Darwin". Archives of Natural History (pp. 176-177). unapi

Review Martin Fichman (2018) Review of "Collecting Evolution: The Galapagos Expedition that Vindicated Darwin". Isis: International Review Devoted to the History of Science and Its Cultural Influences (pp. 427-428). unapi

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Authors & Contributors
Grant, Peter R.
Grant, K. Thalia
Estes, Gregory B.
Glaubrecht, Matthias
Sulloway, Frank J.
Herbert, Sandra
Proceedings of the California Academy of Sciences
Archives of Natural History
Notes and Records: The Royal Society Journal of the History of Science
Journal of the History of Biology
Biology and Philosophy
Reaktion Books
Yale University Press
Scientific expeditions
Travel; exploration
Collectors and collecting
Darwin, Charles Robert
Beck, Rollo Howard
Dobzhansky, Theodosius
Mayr, Ernst
Scouler, John
Douglas, David
Time Periods
19th century
20th century, early
20th century
20th century, late
18th century
Galapagos Islands
Great Britain
Islands of the Pacific
California Academy of Sciences
American Museum of Natural History, New York
Museum of Vertebrate Zoology (University of California, Berkeley)
Rohschild Museum (England)

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