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Nature Institute Perspectives #4


The Giraffe’s Long Neck: From Evolutionary Fable to Whole Organism by Craig Holdrege (Nature Institute Perspectives #4, 104 pages, $12 plus tax, shipping, and handling). Order from our Bookstore

This book provides a comprehensive picture of the giraffe's biology and ecology and also discusses the complex and controversial issue of its evolution. Since Craig Holdrege's intention is to break through the strictures of narrowly confined conceptions of the giraffe and of evolution, neither card-carrying Darwinists nor Creationists will be happy with this book.

The debate concerning evolution, intelligent design, and creationism is framed largely by dogmatic points of view and highly polarized. The goethean-phenomenological approach applied in this book provides a fresh, open-ended perspective by acknowledging the facts that speak for evolution and evolutionary patterns, while avoiding pitfalls of the all-too-simple explanations of contemporary Darwinism.

Holdrege's goal is not to explain the giraffe's characteristics or to speculate about how they might have evolved, but rather to show how the giraffe's features are interconnected and integrated within the context of the whole animal. A remarkable picture of the giraffe emerges.

This timely book will be of interest to the general public and especially valuable to scientists and educators looking for fresh perspectives.



Table of Contents: (Click here for full text in pdf format - 6.5 MB)
1. Evolutionary Stories Falling Short
(or Why Evolutionary Science Needs a Holistic Foundation)
  Lamarck and Darwin
The Long Neck as Feeding Strategy
Alternative Explanatory Attempts
Does the Giraffe Really Have a Long Neck?
2. The Unique Form of the Giraffe
  A First Context-The Giraffe as an Ungulate
Soaring Upward
Mediating Extremes: The Giraffe's Circulatory System
3. The Giraffe in its World
  In the Landscape
Floating over the Plains
"Necking"
Lofty-and at a Distance
The Developing Giraffe
Feeding Ecology
The Intertwined Existence of Acacia and Giraffe
Summing Up
4. The Giraffe and Evolution
  Thinking About Evolution
Okapi and Giraffe
Fossil Giraffids
A Temporal Pattern of Development
An Overriding Morphological Pattern
The Ecological Perspective
Nested Contexts
Back to the Whole Organism
 
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