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9780375406256

Trilobite!: Eyewitness to Evolution

Fortey, Richard

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9780375406256: Trilobite!: Eyewitness to Evolution

"At last, I found a trilobite. The rock simply parted around the animal, like some sort of revelation. I was left holding two pieces of rock--surely what I held was the textbook come alive. The long thin eyes of the trilobite regarded me and I returned the gaze. More compelling than any pair of blue eyes, there was a shiver of recognition across 500 million years."

From the author of Life comes the fascinating story of the beginnings of life on our planet as seen by its very first creatures, trilobites--the exotic, crustacean-like animals that dominated the seas for 300 million years.
Richard Fortey fell in love with trilobites as a fourteen-year-old when he held his first fossil in his hand. In Trilobite!, he draws on a lifetime of study of these creatures to unravel the history of life on earth from their point of view. Trilobites saw continents move, mountain chains grow and erode; they survived ice ages and volcanic eruptions, constantly evolving and exquisitely adapting to their environment--their own evolution calibrated to geological time itself.
With Fortey's expert guidance, we begin to understand how trilobites reveal the pattern and mechanism of evolution through their fossil legacy in the rocks. Through the eyes of trilobites, he allows us glimpses of former worlds as foreign in their geography as in their life forms. Altogether, he provides a unique picture of our geological past, which in turn provides us--scientist and layperson alike--with a new grasp of the wonders of scientific discovery.

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Review:

With his new book Trilobite! Eyewitness to Evolution, Richard Fortey confirms his status as one of the best communicators of science around today. His hugely enjoyable previous book, Life: A Natural History of the First Four Billion Years of Life on Earth, was shortlisted for the 1998 Rhone-Poulenc science book prize, but Trilobite! is sure to receive even greater acclaim. Whereas Life took the reader on a whistle-stop tour of evolution from start to present--a huge undertaking that necessarily granted little space to each time period or taxonomic group-- Trilobite! sees Fortey indulging in a whole book about his overriding paleontological passion, the long extinct and enigmatic creatures of the title. The result is a joy.

Trilobites--woodlicelike creatures that dominated the world's oceans long before the time of the dinosaurs--are, arguably, the most beautiful animals that have ever been chipped out of the fossil record. Fortey certainly seems to think so. His enthusiastic, almost loving explanations of the anatomy, ecology, and long evolutionary history of these fascinating vanished creatures carry the reader on an inspirational journey into the Earth's distant past. But the book is much more than a technical treatise on trilobites. We learn about Fortey himself, his formative years as an amateur then professional paleontologist, about his much-loved teachers and colleagues, and above all, about that strange but addictive pastime known as science. You may not find arthropods as charming as Fortey does, but you will not fail to be charmed by the author. A delightful read. --Chris Lavers, Amazon.co.uk

From the Publisher:

"In Richard Fortey's capable hands the humble gray trilobite has been transformed into the E.T. of the Lower Palaeozoic - a lovable and highly instructive animal, amply deserving of the enthusiasm and affection with which it is memorialized in this remarkable and fascinating book."
-- Simon Winchester, author of The Professor and the Madman

"This is the way science should be written: so engagingly that it makes you forget that you're actually learning something (actually, you're learning a lot), and carrying you swiftly from page to page so that before you know it, you've let the kettle boil over and you're at the end, where the 'suggested reading' list shows you that Fortey has read practically everything about trilobites so that he could condense it here for you, and make you feel that if it's not too late, you'd better call him up at the National History Museum and see if he needs an assistant in the trilobite section. If I had five thousand words I couldn't do Trilobite! justice. There's just no way to condense Fortey's glittering book so filled with insight, science, history, charm and wit. The book speaks brilliantly for itself. You must read it!"
-- Richard Ellis, author of Deep Atlantic and Encyclopedia of the Sea

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Book Description Alfred A. Knopf, 2000. Book Condition: New. Brand New, Unread Copy in Perfect Condition. A+ Customer Service! Summary: From the author of Life comes the fascinating story of the beginnings of life on our planet as seen by its very first creatures, trilobites--the exotic, crustaceanlike animals that dominated the seas for 300 million years. Richard Fortey fell in love with them as a 14-year-old when he held his first trilobite fossil in his hand. In Trilobite, he draws on a lifetime of study of these creatures to unravel the history of life on earth from their point of view. Trilobites saw continents move, mountain chains grow & erode; they survived ice ages & volcanic eruptions, constantly evolving & exquisitely adapting to their environment--their own evolution calibrated to geological time itself. With Fortey's expert guidance, we begin to understand how trilobites reveal the mechanism & pattern of evolution through their fossil legacy in the rocks. Through the eyes of trilobites, he allows us glimpses of former worlds as exotic in their geography as in their life forms. Altogether, he provides a unique picture of our geological past, which in turn provides us--scientist & layperson alike--with a new grasp of the wonders of scientific discovery. Bookseller Inventory # ABE_book_new_0375406255

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