Award-winning geneticist John C. Avise guides this delightful voyage around the planet in search of answers to nature's mysteries. He demonstrates how scientists directly examine DNA to address long-standing questions about wild animals, plants, and microbes. Through dozens of stories that span the world, nature emerges as a realm where truth can be far stranger than fiction. From a 100-ton mushroom to egg-swapping birds, extinct ground sloths to microbes inside our bodies, Avise examines a cornucopia of natural-history topics and explains how today's modern genetic techniques offer novel insights.
Do armadillo litters really contain clones? When is a fig tree not just a single tree? Where have migratory whales traveled? Who are the mothers of the embryos carried by pregnant male seahorses? What insect was the world's earliest farmer? How closely related are Neanderthals to modern humans? Answers to these and many more questions are presented here in a straightforwad manner that reveals Avise's enthusiasm for uncovering nature's hidden ways. Each entry is accompanied by a beautiful illustration from Trudy Nicholson, widely recognized as one of today's leading nature artists.