The Secret Life of Bones

The Secret Life of Bones : Their Origins, Evolution and Fate

3.72 (609 ratings by Goodreads)
By (author) 
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Bone is a marvel, an adaptable and resilient building material developed over 500 million years of evolutionary history. It has manifested itself in wings, sails, horns, armour, and an even greater array of appendages since the time of its origin. In dinosaur fossils, skeletons are biological time capsules that tell us of lives we'll never see in the flesh. Inherited from a common fishy ancestor, it is the stuff that binds all of us vertebrates together into one great family. Swim, slither, stomp, fly, dig, run - all are expressions of what bones make possible. But that's hardly all.

In The Secret Life of Bones, Brian Switek frames the history of our species through the importance of bone from instruments and jewellery, to objects of worship and conquest from the origins of religion through the genesis of science and up through this very day. While bone itself can reveal our individual stories, the truth very much depends on who's telling it. Our skeletons are as embedded in our culture as they are in our bodies. Switek, an enthusiastic osteological raconteur, cuts through biology, history, and culture to understand the meaning of what's inside us and what our bones tell us about who we are, where we came from and the legacies we leave behind.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 288 pages
  • 129 x 198 x 35mm | 268g
  • Duckworth
  • United Kingdom
  • English
  • 0715653792
  • 9780715653791
  • 707,039

Review quote

'A thoughtful, engaging meditation on the origins of the human skeleton, how it functions (or malfunctions) and how we come to terms with our essential but unsettling osseous framework.' * Nature * 'Compellingly evokes the sheer wonder and complexity of the supporting framework inside you - and the murky human responses it arouses.' * Science * 'I sit here now crossing my extraordinary kneecaps... I can see them better thanks to Switek.' * Rose George, The New York Times Book Review * 'A witty, conversational romp through the world of bones, by one of our finest natural history writers. Dinosaurs, saber-toothed tigers, human origins, and culture are all woven together into a breezy, beautifully told story that will make you appreciate the wonder of the skeleton hidden inside of us all.' * Steve Brusatte, University of Edinburgh palaeontologist and Sunday Times bestselling author of The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs * 'A lyrical love letter to the 206 or so bones in the human skeleton and thecolourful figures who have studied them over the centuries.' -- Jennifer Ouellette,author of The Calculus Diaries 'Smart, lively, and hugely informative... the ideal guide to the bones around us and in us.' -- Elizabeth Kolbert, author of The Sixth Extinction 'Switek writes with remarkable grace about the natural world... Every chapterhas some surprise, told in elegant tales, that you will repeat to your friends.' -- Carl Zimmer, author of She Has Her Mother's Laugh
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About Brian Switek

Brian Switek is a collection of 206-some odd bones and associated soft tissues. He's the author of two books: My Beloved Brontosaurus and Written In Stone and writes for the Scientific American blog, Laelaps. A fossil fanatic since the time he was knee-high to a stegosaurus, he is the resident palaeontologist for Jurassic World. He has appeared on BBC R4 Today discussing fossils and his byline has appeared in The Times, The Spectator, National Geographic, Wired, Slate, Smithsonian, The Wall Street Journal and Nature.
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Rating details

609 ratings
3.72 out of 5 stars
5 19% (114)
4 45% (272)
3 28% (172)
2 7% (41)
1 2% (10)
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