The Parrot in the Mirror by Antone Martinho-Truswell [8/10]

Australian-resident zoologist Antone Martinho-Truswell has a roving mind and spirited, engaging pen. “The Parrot in the Mirror: How Evolving to Be Like Birds Made Us Human” is his fascinating notion that some of what we are as humans is the result of convergent evolution matching how birds evolved far, far earlier. Birds broke off from the evolutionary tree of dinosaurs, then, much later, humans evolved on a completely different branch. Yet some of our traits, driven by the pressures of evolution, have ended up being closer to those of birds than to how other mammals behave. The author is a sparkling writer, able to draw the reader along challenging but fascinating routes, turning what could have been turgid academic theory into a marvelous tale. I was drawn to The Parrot in the Mirror by a fascination for the fifteen crane species of birds, one of the more ancient groups of birds, and I found the book to be a valuable read, but I feel certain that many general nonfiction readers would sink into the storytelling.

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