Great Adaptations by Kenneth Catania is named a finalist for the 2022 AAAS/Subaru SB&F Prize for Excellence in Science Books

Kenneth Catania’s Great Adaptations: Star-Nosed Moles, Electric Eels, and Other Tales of Evolution’s Mysteries Solved is one of four Finalists for the 2022 AAAS/Subaru SB&F Prize for Excellence in Science Books, in the Young Adult category.

Great Adaptations is a wondrous journey into nature’s grand designs. Told through the story of biological detective work, Kenneth Catania sheds light on the mysteries behind the behaviors of star nosed moles, electric eels, tentacled snakes, tiny shrews, zombie-making wasps, and more. Throughout the book, Catania—Stevenson Professor of Biological Sciences at Vanderbilt University and recipient of a MacArthur “genius grant”—demonstrates the merits of approaching science with an open mind, considers the role played by citizen scientists, and illustrates that most animals have incredible, hidden abilities that defy our imagination.

In a Wall Street Journal review of the book, psychologist David Barash writes: “The irresistible enthusiasm of Great Adaptations couldn’t come at a better time—science is under assault not merely by know-nothing deniers but in how it is taught and presented to the general public. It’s dispensed as a collection of facts, recitations of what past research has uncovered, findings to be understood, which all too often means just ‘memorized.’ By contrast, as Mr. Catania clearly understands, and demonstrates beautifully in his book, science offers adventures in trying to decode the mysteries of the natural world.”

Sean B. Carroll’s A Series of Fortunate Events: Chance and the Making of the Planet, Life, and You was longlisted for the AAAS/Subaru SB&F 2022 Prize. Prior nominees from PUP’s list include: Kevin Hand’s Alien Oceans: The Search for Life in the Depths of Space; Nick Hadad’s The Last Butterflies: A Scientist’s Quest to Save a Rare and Vanishing Creature; David Hu’s How to Walk on Water and Climb Walls: Animal Movement and the Robots of the Future; Anurag Agrawal’s Monarchs and Milkweed: A Migrating Butterfly, a Poisonous Plant, and their Remarkable Story of Coevolutation; and Welcome to the Universe: An Astrophysical Tour by Neil deGrasse Tyson, Michael A. Stauss, and J. Richard Gott.

Beth Shapiro’s How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction won the Prize in 2016.

The AAAS/Subaru SB&F Prize for Excellence in Science Books, awarded annually across four categories, honors “outstanding science writing and illustration for children and young adults.” Prize winners announced in January 2023.