Reviews elsewhere on the web:
Good Reading Magazine
Times Literary Supplement
Popular Science

Andrew Parker

Seven deadly colours

If we want to colour an object then we would generally use some sort of pigment. However, in the natural world there are a surprising number of different mechanisms for producing colour. In this book Andrew Parker looks at the variety of ways in which animals can create colours, and their uses for signalling or camouflage. Each chapter deals with a different colour of the spectrum (with ultraviolet replacing indigo), and poses a problem concerning an animal of that colour. Alternative possibilities are discussed, with the accepted solution being given at the end of the chapter. Overall it is a highly informative book, and is likely to have something of interest for all readers, whatever their current knowledge of the subject.

Throughout the book Parker looks at the evolutionary development of animal colours, and addresses Darwin's worry about the evolution of the eye - that it was too perfect. On the contrary, colour can be thought of as a way of fooling the eye.

One criticism I have of the book is that the chapters sometimes seem to lose their way. I realise that this is partly due to their structure, but I think Parker carries it too far. I wouldn't like to lose the descriptions of his field work, but one thing I wouldn't miss would be his hypothetical NanoCam - a camera that can view things at any scale. I think a simple description of what is happening would be better. info
Hardcover 336 pages  
ISBN: 0743259394
Salesrank: 3225187
Published: 2005 Gardners Books
Amazon price $97.36
Marketplace:New from $88.54:Used from $4.72
Buy from info
Hardcover 352 pages  
ISBN: 0743259394
Salesrank: 1779273
Weight:1.37 lbs
Published: 2005 Free Press
Marketplace:New from £126.16:Used from £1.71
Buy from info
ISBN: 0743259394
Weight:1.37 lbs
Published: Free Press
Marketplace:New from CDN$ 134.51:Used from CDN$ 67.99
Buy from

Product Description
'To suppose that the eye ...should have formed by natural selection, seems, I freely confess, absurd in the highest degree' -- thus wrote Charles Darwin in ON THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES. The eye's 'perfection', he found, was the one problem he could not resolve with his theory of evolution by natural selection: no intermediate stages between a non-eye and a working eye seemed possible. But was he right? Taking the colours of the spectrum as his keys to the natural world, Andrew Parker shows us that Darwin in fact had no reason to worry, and that Nature's palette is a far more miraculous thing than we had previously imagined. With vivid and fascinating examples of how colour has affected flora and fauna in different environments across the globe, SEVEN DEADLY COLOURS not only shows the endless wonder of the natural world but also extends our understanding of evolution itself.