The Panda's Thumb is the second volume of collected essays by the Harvard paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould. The essays were culled from his monthly column "The View of Life" in Natural History magazine, to which Gould contributed for 27 years. The book deals, in typically discursive fashion, with themes familiar to Gould's writing: evolution and its teaching, science biography, probabilities and common sense.
The title essay discusses the paradox that poor design is a better argument for evolution than good design, as illustrated by the anatomy of the panda's "thumb"—which is not a thumb at all—but an extension of the radial sesamoid. Topics addressed in other essays include the female brain, the Piltdown Man hoax, Down Syndrome, and the relationship between dinosaurs and birds.