Hanson is a marvelous writer, he makes his passion for the natural world quite
compelling. I found myself totally involved in the story of a fossilized
wing being used in a debate on evolution. And he doesn’t stop with the
original owners of the feathers using them; he takes the book on to show how
man has benefited from fly fishing to downy pillows. Just think of the
abuse a feather must endure, sub zero temperatures and ferocious winds for the
Penguin in Antarctica. Or the way a Pelican’s feathers must let it dive
into the frigid waters of the Pacific then erupt from the waves to rise into
the sky. Feathers are pretty remarkable. And hearing about feathers from
Thor is like sitting down for a lively chat with a particularly bright
friend. This is a very entertaining and interesting book.
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.