Book Review: Feathers: The Evolution of a Natural Miracle by Thor Hanson | Science News

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Book Review: Feathers: The Evolution of a Natural Miracle by Thor Hanson

Review by Sid Perkins

By
10:41am, June 3, 2011

Feathers are a multipurpose marvel. Birds, the only modern-day creatures to sport plumage, use feathers for flight, insulation and courtship displays. As it turns out, so do people: Feathers help arrows fly true, trap body heat inside parkas and adorn everything from attention-grabbing hats to the glitzy costumes of Las Vegas showgirls. Hanson, a conservation biologist, presents feathers in a sweeping natural and cultural history, bringing them to life not just as a practical item but as a source of inspiration throughout history.

Hanson artfully explores the many functions of feathers through the stories of people who, like him, are fascinated by them — the fishing guide who embellishes trout lures, the family that jealously guards trade secrets for dyeing feathers used in fashions and the Smithsonian researcher who can identify the species of bird that was sucked into a jet
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