Eight Little Piggies (1993) is the sixth volume of collected essays by the HarvardpaleontologistStephen Jay Gould. The essays were selected from his monthly column "The View of Life" in Natural History magazine, to which Gould contributed for 27 years. The book deals, in typically discursive fashion, with themes familiar to Gould's writing: evolution and its teaching, science biography, probabilities and common sense.
In his latest collection of essays originally published in Natural History magazine, paleontologist Gould examines diverse and diverting topics. The title piece refers to toes, and we learn that five is not necessarily the optimum number. Gould re-examines the work of astronomer Edmund Halley and 16th-century Irish Archbishop James Ussher, who pinpointed the moment of creation (Oct. 23, 4004 B.C.); Gould finds an "invisible hand" connecting William Paley, Charles Darwin and Adam Smith. His recollection of an incident in his childhood leads to a discussion of selective memory. Other topics are the extinction of land snails on Moorea, development of the tiny bones of the ear, romanticism about the past and Gould's own ecological "Golden Rule" for our planet. He writes about the threatened red squirrel of Arizona and the "evolution" of old tires into sandals. This collection, easily equal to The Panda's Thumb and Bully for Brontosaurus , will not disappoint Gould's fans.