’Trilobites have all the glamour of the dinosaur and twice its endurance. What we need, instead of Walking with Dinosaurs is something like Swimming with Trilobites. Everyone must grasp the bigger story. You start with something tiny, like trilobites, and finish up looking at how the world was made.’ RICHARD FORTEY
Richard Fortey is one of Britain’s leading popular scientists. Life: An Unauthorised Biography, was short-listed for the Rhone Poulenc prize and has been reprinted five times. In all he writes, Fortey displays extraordinary range, delight and descriptive gifts which make complicated scientific facts and concepts not only easy to understand but a delight to absorb.
Trilobite is an unashamedly trilobito-centric view of the world unravelling the history of the exotic, crustacean-like animals which dominated the seas for three hundred million years. These arthropods witnessed continents move, mountain chains elevated and eroded; they survived ice ages and volcanic eruptions, evolving and adapting exquisitely to their environment. They watched through their crystal eyes whilst life evolved. Their own evolution calibrated geological time itself.
In Trilobite, Fortey ponders the great cycles of earth history, the durability of stone compared with the transience of human life, and the fecundity of evolution. With his expert guidance, we begin to understand how trilobites reveal the mechanism and pattern of evolution from their legacy in the rocks. Through the eyes of the trilobites, he allows us glimpses of former worlds as exotic in their geography as in their life forms. This is time travel with the guidance of master.
Structured like a detective story, this is a light, but highly informative account of the wonders of scientific discovery.
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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: an Unauthorised Biography 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 palaeontological passion, the long extinct and enigmatic creatures of the title. The result is a joy. Trilobites--woodlice-like 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 a fascinating and 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 palaeontologist, 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 man. A delightful read. -- Chris LaversReview:
Praise for LIFE: AN UNAUTHORISED BIOGRAPHY:
‘Read this book because it is, indeed, the best natural history of the first four billion years of life on earth.’
John Gribbin, Sunday Times
‘Richard Fortey is a scientist… but his big, rich history of four billion years of evolution is written with an artist’s zest for life and language. Anyone who wants to understand how we came to be here on earth,
4 000 000 000 years after life began, should read this sparkling book.’
Maggie Gee, Daily Telegraph
The tale of life needs constantly retelling. Thank some happy accident of history that we have Fortey to tell it to us anew.’
Ted Nield, New Scientist
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Book Description Alfred a Knopf Inc, 2000. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # 2570122