The land and marine iguanas of the Galapagos Islands are famous. Well, the marine iguanas are famous, and the land iguanas, representing the ancestral state for that clade of two species, deserve a lot of credit as well. The story of these iguanas is integral with, and parallel to, the story of the Galapagos Islands, and of course, that story is key in our understanding of and pedagogy of evolutionary biology, and Darwin’s history.
And now there is a new book, One Iguana, Two Iguanas: A Story of Accident, Natural Selection, and Evolution by Sneed B. Collard, exploring this story, for kids.
Collard’s book does the science very well. Note, common wisdom is that the two iguana species split over 8 million years ago. Collard says closer to five. There is a more recent study that says closer to five,so I assume this is the one being referenced, but you know how these DNA phylogeny studies are. “You don’t like this date we give you? Wait a few months, we’ll have a different one!” No matter, it is said in this wonderful children’s science book that the two iguanas arose from the Ctenosaura iguanas, and then split on the Galapagos after arriving there, and that is almost certainly correct.
One Iguana, Two Iguanas is a fast read, very well illustrated. It is for kids age 8-12, but you can read it to a younger science oriented geek-child, and if you are an adult who is not a biologist, there is a good chance you’ll get something out of it yourself.
The book is well illustrated, makes a good story, and I’d suggest this time of year, it would make a great holiday gift.
The author has written approximately one gazillion children’s books, and has been awarded several awards.
The publisher, Tilbury House, has a number of great kids science books, including these two I just reviewed.