Book Review: Billions of Years, Amazing Changes : The Story of Evolution

Billions of Years, Amazing Changes : The Story of Evolution by Laurence Pringle (ill. by Steve Jenkins). 2011.

In Billions of Years, Amazing Changes : The Story of Evolution, Laurence Pringle, an award-winning children’s science writer, traces the history of scientific discoveries relating to evolution.

He begins with early geologists, who noticed that rock layers showed the changes that had been made by powerful forces from inside the Earth, and who discovered fossils of strange creatures not found in their time.  He describes the voyages of Charles Darwin and how his discoveries in the Galapagos Islands led to the theory of evolution.

“Evolution”, says Pringle, “is simply change over time,” and this change depends on basic characteristics of nature. Pringle almost as simply explains these characteristics, which include variation, competition, and natural selection.  Though Darwin and other scientists throughout the world agreed that evolution explained the changes in the Earth, science was not advanced enough at that time to explain exactly HOW it happened.

Pringle goes on to explain how several fields of science have contributed to understanding the “how.”  Geologists have discovered how to tell the age of rocks by measuring their radioactive decay.  Scientists discovered DNA and figured out not only how genes work but how mutations in DNA cause variation. Geologists have also come to understand how plate tectonics and continental drift have affected the distribution of life on our planet.

Billions of Years, Amazing Changes provides a clear and accurate description of several complex concepts related to evolution.  Not only can it be used for studying about evolution, genetics, and geology, but it is also interesting enough for young science buffs to read for fun.  In addition, Steve Jenkins’ signature collage artwork enhances this fascinating book.

Blogger:  Tracey L.