Cover

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Front Matter

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Prologue

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pp. vii-xii

WHENEVER men stop doing things long enough to think about them, they always ask themselves the question: "What am I?" And since that is the hardest of all questions to answer they usually settle for what looks easier - "If I...

Contents

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pp. xiii-xiv

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1. Basic Forms of Life

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pp. 1-18

EVERY SCHOOLBOY knows - or at least has been told - that our ignorant ancestors believed in "spontaneous generation." They assumed of course that all the nobler animals, including man, had to have a mother and, usually, a father as well...

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2. Machinery for Evolution

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pp. 19-38

ON THE SECOND of January 1700 Anthony van Leeuwenhoek, draper of Delft and self-taught Columbus of the littlest world, was writing to the Royal Society of London one of the many letters in which he described his voyages of discovery within a drop of water. To William Dampier and other such rovers he left the...

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3. The Animal's First Need

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pp. 39-58

IS A VOLVOX any less remarkable than a bird, or a bird any less remarkable than a man? Of course it is - in a sense. But miracles cannot be compared. One is quite as incomprehensible as the other and if man did not exist a Volvox or a robin would be as difficult to "explain" as man himself...

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4. Parenthood

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pp. 59-76

MOST PEOPLE are more interested in young animals than in grownups, and at any zoo the mother with her baby attracts the largest crowd. Parental concern is a touch of nature which even those usually indifferent to their fellow creatures...

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5. The Need for Continuity

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pp. 77-96

AT THE BEGINNING of the fifth chapter of Alice in Wonderland Alice has an important conversation with a caterpillar. Thinking of her own recent experiences, she complains that it is very confusing to change size and shape. The Caterpillar - brusque as all Wonderland creatures are - replies: "It...

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6. The Barbarian Mammal

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pp. 97-110

THE ANT practices his incredible agriculture almost at my doorstep. The caterpillar will be born again on my study table if I put him there. Yet both of them live in a universe so remote from mine that they are not aware of even physical propinquity and they go about their business as though...

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7. The Meaning of Awareness

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pp. 111-128

FOR NINE LONG YEARS a large salamander lived her sluggish life in a damp terrarium on my window sill. Before I assumed responsibility for her health and welfare she had lived through a different life - not as different as the life of a butterfly is from that of a caterpillar, but different...

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8. Undeveloped Potentialities

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pp. 129-146

"THERE ARE many arguments, none of them very good, for having a snake in the house." So Mr. Will Cuppy once wrote, though he was gracious (or is it cynical?) enough to add: "Considering what some do pet, I don't see why they should...

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9. Reverence for Life

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pp. 147-170

IT WOULD NOT BE quite true to say that "some of my best friends are hunters." Nevertheless, I do number among my respected acquaintances some who not only kill for the sake of killing but count it among their keenest pleasures....

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10. Devolution

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pp. 171-188

ON THE SPRING MORNING when I began writing this book I might have picked the illustrations for most of my themes within two hundred yards of my window. Just about that far away several colonies of ants were practicing their incredible...

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11. How Right Was Darwin?

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pp. 189-212

TO THE BANAL REMARK that "Life is strange" a wit once replied with the impudent query, "By comparison with what?" Nothing remains to be said if the orIginal remark was intended as a comment on some happy accident or unhappy contretemps of daily life. But if one is thinking instead...

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Epilogue

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pp. 213-227

THE FffiST SENTENCES of this book were written nearly two years ago. Outside my window on that spring morning, as on this, a bird sang. Outside a million windows, a million birds had sung as morning swept around the globe. Few men and few women were so glad that a new day had...