City Biologist Menno Schilthuizen wins Jan Wolkers Prize 2018
The book 'Darwin comes to town’ by Menno Schilthuizen has been awarded the best nature book in the Netherlands. The Leiden biologist received the Jan Wolkers Prize, awarded annually by Dutch TV and radio show 'Vroege Vogels'. In his book Schilthuizen describes evolution in one of the newest and most extreme landscapes on earth: the city.
Darwin in the city describes how plants and animals adapt to life in the city. According to Schilthuizen, these concrete, hot and polluted biotopes are 'powerhouses' for evolution. Animals and plants adapt unprecedently fast to the new conditions, creating special characteristics and sometimes completely new species. Crows that use passing traffic to crack open walnuts, lizards that develop feet which provide more grip on concrete or plants that adjust their seeds to increase their reproductive opportunities.
Schilthuizen received the prize during a live broadcast of Vroege Vogels, in Rijksmuseum Boerhave in Leiden. Karina Wolkers, (the wife of laid Jan Wolkers) and a portrait made by Siegfried Woldhek. 'The jury has opted for the surprise, in which wisdom is lavishly served with facts,' says jury chairman Jean-Pierre Geelen (de Volkskrant). According to him, the book teaches you to look in a different way, which again makes you amazed by the miracle of so-called everyday nature and its flexibility. The jury also praises the readable writing style of Schilthuizen.
A lot of Dutch media paid attention to the Jan Wolkers Prize (all in Dutch):
Vroege Vogels – Menno Schilthuizen wint Jan Wolkers Prijs 2018
Het Parool - Jan Wolkers Prijs voor bioloog Schilthuizen
Leidsch Dagblad – Jan Wolkers Prijs voor Schilthuizen
Menno Schilthuizen is a biologist at Leiden University and Naturalis. He conducts research into evolution and biodiversity. Schilthuizen has already written several books on this subject, such as Darwin's peep show: about the evolution of sexual organs. The Jan Wolkers Prijs is named after Dutch writer Jan Wolkers, who interweaved nature in all of his books and also had his own tv show, in which he talked about the plants and animals in his own backyard.