Trilobite: Eyewitness to Evolution

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With Trilobite, Richard Fortey, paleontologist and author of the acclaimed Life, offers a marvelously written, smart and compelling, accessible and witty scientific narrative of the most ubiquitous of fossil creatures.

Trilobites were shelled animals that lived in the oceans over five hundred million years ago. As bewilderingly diverse then as the beetle is today, they survived in the arctic or the tropics, were spiky or smooth, were large as lobsters or small as fleas. And because they flourished for three hundred million years, they can be used to glimpse a less evolved world of ancient continents and vanished oceans. Erudite and entertaining, this book is a uniquely exuberant homage to a fabulously singular species.


From the Trade Paperback edition.
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About the author

Richard Fortey lives in London.


From the Trade Paperback edition.
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4.2
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Additional Information

Publisher
Vintage
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Published on
Feb 10, 2010
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Pages
320
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ISBN
9780307434678
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Language
English
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Genres
Science / Life Sciences / Evolution
Science / Natural History
Science / Paleontology
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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From one of the world’s leading natural scientists and the acclaimed author of Trilobite!, Life: A Natural History of Four Billion Years of Life on Earth and Dry Storeroom No. 1 comes a fascinating chronicle of life’s history told not through the fossil record but through the stories of organisms that have survived, almost unchanged, throughout time. Evolution, it seems, has not completely obliterated its tracks as more advanced organisms have evolved; the history of life on earth is far older—and odder—than many of us realize.
 
Scattered across the globe, these remarkable plants and animals continue to mark seminal events in geological time. From a moonlit beach in Delaware, where the hardy horseshoe crab shuffles its way to a frenzy of mass mating just as it did 450 million years ago, to the dense rainforests of New Zealand, where the elusive, unprepossessing velvet worm has burrowed deep into rotting timber since before the breakup of the ancient supercontinent, to a stretch of Australian coastline with stromatolite formations that bear witness to the Precambrian dawn, the existence of these survivors offers us a tantalizing glimpse of pivotal points in evolutionary history. These are not “living fossils” but rather a handful of tenacious creatures of days long gone.
 
Written in buoyant, sparkling prose, Horseshoe Crabs and Velvet Worms is a marvelously captivating exploration of the world’s old-timers combining the very best of science writing with an explorer’s sense of adventure and wonder.
Distant relatives of modern lobsters, horseshoe crabs, and spiders, trilobites swam the planet’s prehistoric seas for 300 million years, from the Lower Cambrian to the end of the Permian eras—and they did so very capably. Trilobite fossils have been unearthed on every continent, with more than 20,000 species identified by science. One of the most arresting animals of our pre-dinosaur world, trilobites are also favorites among the fossil collectors of today, their crystalline eyes often the catalyst for a lifetime of paleontological devotion. And there is no collector more devoted—or more venerated—than Riccardo Levi-Setti. With The Trilobite Book, a much anticipated follow-up to his classic Trilobites, Levi-Setti brings us a glorious and revealing guide to these surreal arthropods of ancient Earth.

Featuring specimens from Bohemia to Newfoundland, California to the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show, and Wales to the Anti-Atlas Mountains of Morocco, Levi-Setti’s magnificent book reanimates these “butterflies of the seas” in 235 astonishing full-color photographs. All original, Levi-Setti’s images serve as the jumping-off point for tales of his global quests in search of these highly sought-after fossils; for discussions of their mineralogical origins, as revealed by their color; and for unraveling the role of the now-extinct trilobites in our planetary history.

Sure to enthrall paleontologists with its scientific insights and amateur enthusiasts with its beautiful and informative images, The Trilobite Book combines the best of science, technology, aesthetics, and personal adventure. It will inspire new collectors for eras to come.
This edition does not include illustrations.

‘Dry Store Room No. 1’ is an intimate biography of the Natural History Museum, celebrating the eccentric personalities who have peopled it and capturing the wonders of scientific endeavour, academic rigour and imagination.

Behind the public façade of any great museum there lies a secret domain: one of unseen galleries, locked doors, priceless specimens and hidden lives.Through the stories of the numerous eccentric individuals whose long careers have left their mark on the study of evolutionary science, Richard Fortey, former senior paleaontologist at London's Natural History Museum, celebrates the pioneering work of the Museum from its inception to the present day. He delves into the feuds, affairs, scandals and skulduggery that have punctuated its long history, and formed a backdrop to extraordinary scientific endeavour from Darwin to the present day. He explores the staying power and adaptability of the Museum as it responds to changes wrought by advances in technology and molecular biology – 'spare' bones from an extinct giant bird suddenly become cutting-edge science with the new knowledge that DNA can be extracted from them, and ancient fish are tested with the latest equipment that is able to measure rises in pollution.

'Dry Store Room No.1’ is a fascinating and affectionate account of a hidden world of untold treasures, where every fragment tells a story about time past, by a scientist who combines rigorous professional learning with a gift for prose that sparkles with wit and literary sensibility.

Note that it has not been possible to include the same picture content that appeared in the original print version.

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