Annie Barrett
October 29, 2004 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Oxford biologist Richard Dawkins traces his way back to the dawn of evolution in The Ancestor’s Tale. But given that the book is 673 pages long, we felt some natural selection was in order.

Tribes in southeast Asia and Africa once regarded local great apes as humans who fell from grace.

Due to an inner ”brain clockwork,” beavers go through the motions of dam building even in the absence of wood or water.

When a male canary sings to a female, her ovaries grow.

When the platypus was first discovered, and a specimen was sent to a museum, the creature with bird and mammal features was thought to be a hoax.

Humans first inherited downward-facing nostrils from Old World monkeys. Hey, thanks!

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