L.A.Times Book Prize Finalist: Book On Evolution Of Bird Flight

A book written by Pat Shipman, adjunct professor of anthropology at Penn State, was announced last night, February 24, 1999, as a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize in the science and technology category during a ceremony at the National Arts Club in New York City. Her book, Taking Wing: Archaeopteryx and the Evolution of Bird Flight, which was published by Simon and Schuster in 1998, won the Phi Beta Kappa Award in Science last year.

Written for a general audience, the book is a compelling account of the finding and interpretation of Archaeopteryx, the enigmatic fossil whose anatomy combines birdlike and reptilian features that have puzzled and intrigued scientists since the discovery of the first specimen in 1861. The seven known specimens of Archaeopteryx lie at the center of a heated debate about how birds evolved the ability to soar above the ground. Scientific interpretation is complicated by the almost iconic status of the beautiful fossil, which has come to represent the evolutionary process itself. Included in the story are some fundamental questions: How do birds fly? Did birds evolve flight "ground up" or "trees down?" Are birds really just evolved dinosaurs? And, how do scientists actually do science? The book has been hailed by reviewers as "gripping," "an absolutely terrific book," and "as well structured as any mystery novel."

The Los Angeles Times Book Prizes have been given annually since 1980. They recognize books published in the previous calendar year that exemplify excellence in eight categories: biography, current interest, fiction, first fiction, history, poetry, young-adult fiction, and science and technology. Winners of this year's award, who will be selected from five finalists in each category, will be announced at a ceremony in Los Angeles on April 23, 1999, and will receive a citation and a monetary prize.

The Los Angeles Times appoints committees of independent judges, most of whom are published

Contact: Barbara K. Kennedy
Penn State

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