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Collecting Evolution

The Galapagos Expedition that Vindicated Darwin

Matthew J. James

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Oxford University Press
01 May 2020
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 A current Fellow of the California Academy of Sciences, James uses his access to unpublished writings and photographs to provide unprecedented insight into the expedition.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.
By:   Matthew J. James
Imprint:   Oxford University Press
Country of Publication:   United States
Dimensions:   Height: 234mm,  Width: 157mm,  Spine: 18mm
Weight:   432g
ISBN:   9780197508374
ISBN 10:   0197508375
Pages:   306
Publication Date:   01 May 2020
Audience:   General/trade ,  ELT Advanced
Format:   Paperback
Publisher's Status:   Active
Preface Acknowledgements Note to the Reader Prologue 1. Halfway to the Stars 2. Walking in Darwin's Footsteps 3. Setting Sail from San Francisco 4. Before It Is Too Late 5. Collecting Evolution 6. Galapagos at Last 7. Confluence: Where Geography and Ideas Meet 8. On Death, and Life, in Galapagos 9. Down to the Sea in Ships: Ship's Log, 1905 10. Rising from the Ashes 11. Ship's Log, 1906 12. That Sinking Feeling 13. Darwin's Islands Meet the Plant Wizard of Santa Rosa 14. The Voyage Home: Ship's Log 15. Vindicating Darwin Epilogue -- Legacy: Recent Use of California Academy of Sciences Specimens Chronology of the 1905 -- 1906 Galapagos Expedition Bibliography Index

Matthew James is a Fellow of the California Academy of Sciences, and Professor of Geology and Paleontology at Sonoma State University. He has been writing about the Galapagos in historical, scientific, and research capacities for over thirty years.

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