Cats are not Peas – Laura Gould

A Calico History of Genetics

This book is an interesting mixture – partly a history of life with a cat, this one a male Calico named George, and partly a history of genetics itself and the author’s own investigation into the field in order to learn about studies into cat genetics and calico genetics.

The mix works well, keeping the subject from getting too dry – there are amusing stories about the cats, about librarians who won’t let anyone see their books, and about poor genetics researchers who had predictable trouble getting cats to do what they want.  It was probably a relief to turn back to fruit flies.

It isn’t a long book by any means, and does tell a good story and give good information on genetics in general and cat genetics in particular, if mostly concentrated on the calico genes.  For one reason or another it got pushed aside for some time before it found its way back into the rotation and finished, but it wasn’t the fault of the book.

Grave Secrets of the Dinosaurs – Phillip Manning

This is a pretty interesting book on the discovery of Dakota, a ‘duckbill’ dinosaur that was exceptionally well preserved – the impression of the skin itself is preserved over much of the body, and the outline of the muscle is still present, as the body was not crushed after burial or distorted.

The information on Dakota himself is pretty limited, as the book was published before

Hadrosauridae (Dakota) - 01

Hadrosauridae (Dakota) – 01 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

they could finish.  You do get to read about the practical problems of trying to X-ray a giant rock.  To partly make up for this, there is a bit of background on other ‘mummy’ discoveries in the past.

So it is a tad disappointing that the results given in the book are so limited.