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A Most Perfect Read - A Review of - The Most Perfect Thing: Inside (and Outside) a Bird's Egg by Tim Birkhead, Bloomsbury, USA (2016)

Gadagkar, R (2016) A Most Perfect Read - A Review of - The Most Perfect Thing: Inside (and Outside) a Bird's Egg by Tim Birkhead, Bloomsbury, USA (2016). In: Proceedings of the Indian National Science Academy, 82 (4). pp. 1323-1324.

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A Review of: The Most Perfect Thing: Inside (and Outside) a Bird’s Egg. By Tim Birkhead Publisher: Bloomsbury USA ISBN: 13:978-1408851258 Price: Rs.838 A Most Perfect Thing is an inspiring mixture of science, history and adventure. The author, Tim Birkhead is a Professor of Zoology in the University of Sheffield in the UK, best known for his research on sperm competition and sexual selection in Birds. His previous book that I have read (he has written a dozen) Bird Sense: What It’s Like to Be a Bird had already introduced me to his remarkable ability to combine information and inspiration. The present book carries on in that tradition and while it is on a more narrow topic (just the eggs of birds as opposed to everything about birds), it brings together more history and context – context in which science is practised and knowledge is produced. The Most Perfect Thing is a rigorous description of the science of Oology, the study of bird’s eggs. It tells you how the egg acquires its shell, how the mother acquires the calcium needed to make the shell, how and why are eggs shaped and coloured as they are, what is albumin and what is yolk, how are they made and of what use are they to the developing chick, how are the real eggs, i.e., the oocytes, the cells that give rise to the next generation, made and how are they fertilized and finally how and why are eggs incubated. As one may expect, there is great variation among different species of birds (there are some ten thousand species) in the answers to each of these questions. Finding the logic of this variation is the stuff of the science of behavioural ecology and Tim Birkhead is as good a practitioner of this science as any I know. To add to the scientific rigour and to facilitate the book to be used as text book and research monograph, we find Notes, Bibliography, Glossary, Common and Latin names of all birds mentioned in the text, Index and superb photographs.

Item Type: Journal Article
Publication: Proceedings of the Indian National Science Academy
Publisher: Indian National Science Academy
Keywords: Book review, Science of Oology, Birds' eggs
Department/Centre: Division of Biological Sciences > Centre for Ecological Sciences
Date Deposited: 23 Mar 2021 07:11
Last Modified: 23 Mar 2021 07:11
URI: http://eprints.iisc.ac.in/id/eprint/68355

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