Feathers are an evolutionary marvel: aerodynamic, insulating, beguiling. They date back more than 100 million years. Yet their story has never been fully told.In Feathers, biologist Thor Hanson details a sweeping natural history, as feathers have been used to fly, protect, attract, and adorn through time and place. Applying the research of paleontologists, ornithologists, biologists, engineers, and even art historians, Hanson asks: What are feathers? How did they evolve? What do they mean to us?
Engineers call feathers the most efficient insulating material ever discovered, and they are at the root of biology's most enduring debate. They silence the flight of owls and keep penguins dry below the ice. They have decorated queens, jesters, and priests. And they have inked documents from the Constitution to the novels of Jane Austen.
Feathers is a captivating and beautiful exploration of this most enchanting object.
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Thor Hanson is a conservation biologist, Switzer Environmental Fellow, and member of the Human Ecosystems Study Group. His first book, The Impenetrable Forest: My Gorilla Years in Uganda, won the 2008 USA Book News Award for nature writing. Hanson lives with his wife on an island in Washington State.Review:
"Thor Hanson's Feathers is a sparkling history...popular natural history at its best."―New Scientist
"An illuminating study of an evolutionary marvel."―Economist
"A winning book about the extraordinary place of feathers in animal and human history."―Wall Street Journal
"Feathers is an impressive blend of beauty, form, and function."―Natural History
"Thor Hanson's storytelling is enhanced by his infectious excitement.... Feathers is a compelling introduction to one of nature's wonders."―Nature
"A readable introduction to feathers and what they mean for birds and mankind."―Science
"[Feathers] is gracious, funny, persuasive and wide ranging."―Amanda Katz, New York Times
"[D]elightful.... [A] fascinating inquiry into one of those common things that are easy to overlook until someone shows what a miracle it is."―Seattle Times
"[Hanson] gives unexpected substance to his nearly weightless subject."―Discover
"[C]aptivating.... Beginning with the evolution of birds, Hanson...unfolds the human fascination with feathers in terms of science, commerce, tools, folklore, art, and aerodynamics with panache."―Audubon
"There are many feathery gems to be discovered in this book.... Feathers is a book designed to be read, not skimmed, with every page revealing new layers of understanding."―Examiner
"To read Feathers is to meet up with an enthusiastic old friend who simply cannot wait to tell you about something he just discovered...a must-read by bird watchers and naturalists of all levels of interest or experience."―Bird Watcher's Digest
"A fascinating book...unusually well-written. Highly recommended."―Peter Matthiessen, National Book Award-winning author of The Snow Leopard and Shadow Country
"Absolutely fascinating history, and a terrific read."―Garth Stein, author of The Art of Racing in the Rain
"This is rich and engaging ornithology at its best."―Frank B. Gill, author of Ornithology
"This is science written in clear and entertaining prose; a great read."―Bernd Heinrich, Emeritus Professor of Biology, University of Vermont; author of Winter World and Mind of the Raven
"Feathers is simply a splendid book!"―Robert Michael Pyle, author of Wintergreen and Mariposa Road
"[A] fascinating and eminently readable exploration."―Booklist
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