Bones: the unity of form and function

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Macmillan Publishing Company, Incorporated, 1994 - Science - 223 pages
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From the perspective of an engineer admiring the girders of a bridge or parts of a machine, Bones celebrates how animals work. In tribute to both the beauty and mechanics of its subject, the book explores the structure, material, and movement of bones as they serve the design of living animals. It examines the composition of bone material, looks at the joints and muscle attachments that allow for movement - including such elaborate mechanisms as fish jaws, rattlesnake fangs, and a lion's retractable claws - and shows how the same bone is shaped wildly differently in a variety of animals. It explains how bones grow as the body grows yet remain strong and functional throughout an animal's life, and delves into the amazing variety of patterns and textures bones display. A wealth of specially commissioned color plates complements the text, showing bones as they have seldom before been observed. Their precise, luminous images range from the unusual (the skeleton of a Pygmy Flying Squirrel) to the ordinary (the tail bones of a domestic cat), and from the enormous (the vertebra of a dinosaur) to the minuscule (the acoustic bones of a Desert Kangaroo Rat). With its exceptional blend of lively science and unexpected beauty, Bones leaves readers with insight into the workings of the skeleton and a sense of wonder at their intricacy, while its images remain haunting and unforgettable.

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Bones: the unity of form and function

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The configuration of bones and skeletons offers compelling examples of engineering principles and design. Evolution has produced countless variations of features and functions based on the same basic ... Read full review


Foreword by Mark A Norell
Strength with Lightness

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About the author (1994)

Professor R. McNeill Alexander is at the Department of Pure and Applied Biology, University of Leeds. A bestselling author as well as a respected academic, he has written several other academic and semi-popular books on topics including animal locomotion, dinosaurs, and human mechanics.

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