Amazon Expeditions My Quest for the Ice-age Equator Paul Colinvaux

Format:
Hardback
Publication date:
15 Apr 2008
ISBN:
9780300115444
Dimensions:
368 pages: 234 x 156 x 30mm
Illustrations:
37 b&w illustrations

In this vivid memoir of a life in science, ecologist Paul Colinvaux takes his readers from the Alaskan tundra to steamy Amazon jungles, from the Galapagos Islands (before tourists had arrived) to the high Andes and the Darien Gap in Panama. He recounts an adventurous tale of exploration in the days before GPS and satellite mapping, and a tale no less exhilarating of his battle to disprove a hypothesis endorsed by most of the scientific community. Colinvaux's grand endeavour, begun in the 1960s, was to find fossil evidence of the ice-age climate and vegetation of the entire American equator, from Pacific to Atlantic. The accomplishment of the task by the author and his colleagues involved finding unknown ancient lakes, lugging drilling equipment through uncharted Amazon jungle, operating hand drills from rubber boats in water 40 metres deep, and inventing a pollen analysis for a land with 80,000 species of plants. Colinvaux's years of arduous travel and research ultimately disproved a hotly-defended hypothesis explaining bird distribution peculiarities in the Amazon forest. The story of how he arrived at a new understanding of the Amazon is at once an adventurous saga, an account of science as it is conducted in the field, and a cautionary tale about the temptation to treat a favoured hypothesis with a reverence that subverts unbiased research.

Paul Colinvaux is senior research scientist, Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole, and professor emeritus, The Ohio State University. He has published extensively on ecological topics and hosted the 20-part PBS series, What Ecology Really Says.

"An interesting book that aims at a wide readership, particularly...anyone interested in tales of explorations and the scientific search of the ice-age Amazon climatic history."--Sonia L. Fontana, Georgaphical Journal