Wonderful Life: Burgess Shale and the Nature of History

4.11 avg rating
( 7,918 ratings by Goodreads )
 
9780099273455: Wonderful Life: Burgess Shale and the Nature of History

High in the Canadian Rockies is a small limestone quarry formed 530 million years ago. Called the Burgess Shale, it holds the remains of an ancient sea where dozens of strange creatures lived - a forgotten corner of evolution preserved in incredible detail. In this book Stephen Jay Gould explores what the Burgess Shale might tell us about evolution and the nature of history.

The Darwinian theory of evolution is a well-known, well-explored area. But there is one aspect of human life which this theory of evolution fails to account for: chance. Using the brilliantly preserved fossil fauna of the Burgess Shale as his case study, Gould argues that chance was in fact one of the decisive factors in the evolution of life on this planet, and that, with a flip of coin, everything could have been very different indeed.

"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.

Review:

The Burgess Shale of British Columbia "is the most precious and important of all fossil localities", writes Stephen Jay Gould. These 600-million-year-old rocks preserve the soft parts of a collection of animals unlike any other. Just how unlike is the subject of Gould's book.

Gould describes how the Burgess Shale fauna was discovered, reassembled and analysed in detail so clear that the reader actually gets some feeling for what paleobiologists do, in the field and in the lab. The many line drawings are unusually beautiful, and now can be compared to a wonderful collection of photographs in Fossils of the Burgess Shale by Derek Briggs, one of Gould's students.

Burgess Shale animals have been called "a palaeontological Rorschach test", and not every geologist by any means agrees with Gould's thesis that they represent a "road not taken" in the history of life. Simon Conway Morris, one of the subjects of Wonderful Life, has expressed his disagreement in Crucible of Creation. Wonderful Life was published in 1989, and there has been an explosion of scientific interest in the pre-Cambrian and Cambrian periods, with radical new ideas fighting for dominance. But even though many scientists disagree with Gould about the radical oddity of the Burgess Shale animals, his argument that the history of life is profoundly contingent--as in the movie It's a Wonderful Life, from which this book takes its title--has become more accepted, in theories such as Ward and Brownlee's Rare Earth hypothesis. And Gould's loving, detailed exposition of the labour it took to understand the Burgess Shale remains one of the best explanations of scientific work around. --Mary Ellen Curtin

Review:

"A masterpiece of analysis and imagination...It centres on a sensational discovery in the field of palaeontology - the existence, in the Burgess Shale... of 530-million-year-old fossils unique in age, preservation and diversity...With skill and passion, Gould takes this mute collection of fossils and makes them speak to us. The result challenges some of our most cherished self-perceptions and urges a fundamental re-assessment of our place in the history of life on earth" (Sunday Times)

"About this title" may belong to another edition of this title.

Top Search Results from the AbeBooks Marketplace

1.

Stephen Jay Gould
Published by Vintage Publishing, United Kingdom (2000)
ISBN 10: 0099273454 ISBN 13: 9780099273455
New Paperback Quantity Available: 1
Seller:
The Book Depository
(London, United Kingdom)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Vintage Publishing, United Kingdom, 2000. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. High in the Canadian Rockies is a small limestone quarry formed 530 million years ago. Called the Burgess Shale, it holds the remains of an ancient sea where dozens of strange creatures lived - a forgotten corner of evolution preserved in incredible detail. In this book Stephen Jay Gould explores what the Burgess Shale might tell us about evolution and the nature of history. The Darwinian theory of evolution is a well-known, well-explored area. But there is one aspect of human life which this theory of evolution fails to account for: chance. Using the brilliantly preserved fossil fauna of the Burgess Shale as his case study, Gould argues that chance was in fact one of the decisive factors in the evolution of life on this planet, and that, with a flip of coin, everything could have been very different indeed. Bookseller Inventory # AAZ9780099273455

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
10.28
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
From United Kingdom to U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

2.

Stephen Jay Gould
Published by Vintage 2000-08-03 (2000)
ISBN 10: 0099273454 ISBN 13: 9780099273455
New Quantity Available: 2
Seller:
Chiron Media
(Wallingford, United Kingdom)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Vintage 2000-08-03, 2000. Book Condition: New. Brand new book, sourced directly from publisher. Dispatch time is 24-48 hours from our warehouse. Book will be sent in robust, secure packaging to ensure it reaches you securely. Bookseller Inventory # NU-BER-00015149

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
8.38
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: 2.99
From United Kingdom to U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

3.

Stephen Jay Gould
Published by Vintage 2000-08-03 (2000)
ISBN 10: 0099273454 ISBN 13: 9780099273455
New Quantity Available: 4
Seller:
Chiron Media
(Wallingford, United Kingdom)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Vintage 2000-08-03, 2000. Book Condition: New. Brand new book, sourced directly from publisher. Dispatch time is 24-48 hours from our warehouse. Book will be sent in robust, secure packaging to ensure it reaches you securely. Bookseller Inventory # NU-GRD-00485952

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
8.57
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: 2.99
From United Kingdom to U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

4.

Stephen Jay Gould
Published by Vintage Publishing, United Kingdom (2000)
ISBN 10: 0099273454 ISBN 13: 9780099273455
New Paperback Quantity Available: 1
Seller:
The Book Depository US
(London, United Kingdom)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Vintage Publishing, United Kingdom, 2000. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. High in the Canadian Rockies is a small limestone quarry formed 530 million years ago. Called the Burgess Shale, it holds the remains of an ancient sea where dozens of strange creatures lived - a forgotten corner of evolution preserved in incredible detail. In this book Stephen Jay Gould explores what the Burgess Shale might tell us about evolution and the nature of history. The Darwinian theory of evolution is a well-known, well-explored area. But there is one aspect of human life which this theory of evolution fails to account for: chance. Using the brilliantly preserved fossil fauna of the Burgess Shale as his case study, Gould argues that chance was in fact one of the decisive factors in the evolution of life on this planet, and that, with a flip of coin, everything could have been very different indeed. Bookseller Inventory # AAZ9780099273455

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
11.99
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
From United Kingdom to U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

5.

Stephen Jay Gould
Published by Vintage (2000)
ISBN 10: 0099273454 ISBN 13: 9780099273455
New Paperback Quantity Available: 5
Seller:
The Monster Bookshop
(Fleckney, United Kingdom)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Vintage, 2000. Paperback. Book Condition: New. BRAND NEW ** SUPER FAST SHIPPING FROM UK WAREHOUSE ** 30 DAY MONEY BACK GUARANTEE. Bookseller Inventory # mon0000190055

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
11.04
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: 1.99
From United Kingdom to U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

6.

Gould, Stephen Jay
Published by Vintage (2000)
ISBN 10: 0099273454 ISBN 13: 9780099273455
New Softcover Quantity Available: 5
Rating
[?]

Book Description Vintage, 2000. Book Condition: New. An account of a revolution in our understanding of life's history, this book tells how three obscure British scientists completely changed our view of evolution by discovering a unique group of 530 million year-old creatures in the Burgess Shale fossil deposit in the Rockies. Num Pages: 352 pages, facsimiles. BIC Classification: PSAJ. Category: (G) General (US: Trade); (P) Professional & Vocational; (U) Tertiary Education (US: College). Dimension: 197 x 128 x 28. Weight in Grams: 254. . 2000. New Ed. Paperback. . . . . Bookseller Inventory # V9780099273455

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
13.20
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
From Ireland to U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

7.

Gould, Stephen Jay
Published by Vintage
ISBN 10: 0099273454 ISBN 13: 9780099273455
New Softcover Quantity Available: 5
Seller:
Kennys Bookstore
(Olney, MD, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Vintage. Book Condition: New. An account of a revolution in our understanding of life's history, this book tells how three obscure British scientists completely changed our view of evolution by discovering a unique group of 530 million year-old creatures in the Burgess Shale fossil deposit in the Rockies. Num Pages: 352 pages, facsimiles. BIC Classification: PSAJ. Category: (G) General (US: Trade); (P) Professional & Vocational; (U) Tertiary Education (US: College). Dimension: 197 x 128 x 28. Weight in Grams: 254. . 2000. New Ed. Paperback. . . . . Bookseller Inventory # V9780099273455

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
13.64
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

8.

Stephen Jay Gould
Published by Vintage
ISBN 10: 0099273454 ISBN 13: 9780099273455
New Paperback Quantity Available: 5
Seller:
THE SAINT BOOKSTORE
(Southport, United Kingdom)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Vintage. Paperback. Book Condition: New. New copy - Usually dispatched within 2 working days. Bookseller Inventory # B9780099273455

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
7.10
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: 6.94
From United Kingdom to U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

9.

Stephen Jay Gould
Published by Vintage (2000)
ISBN 10: 0099273454 ISBN 13: 9780099273455
New Softcover Quantity Available: 1
Seller:
Rating
[?]

Book Description Vintage, 2000. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # EH9780099273455

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
11.70
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: 2.66
From Germany to U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

10.

Stephen Jay Gould
ISBN 10: 0099273454 ISBN 13: 9780099273455
New Quantity Available: 3
Seller:
Speedy Hen LLC
(Sunrise, FL, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # ST0099273454. Bookseller Inventory # ST0099273454

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
14.52
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

There are more copies of this book

View all search results for this book