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    Wonderful Life: Burgess Shale and the Nature of History (Paperback) By (author) Stephen Jay Gould

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    Description'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.


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  • Full bibliographic data for Wonderful Life

    Title
    Wonderful Life
    Subtitle
    Burgess Shale and the Nature of History
    Authors and contributors
    By (author) Stephen Jay Gould
    Physical properties
    Format: Paperback
    Number of pages: 352
    Width: 129 mm
    Height: 198 mm
    Thickness: 22 mm
    Weight: 256 g
    Language
    English
    ISBN
    ISBN 13: 9780099273455
    ISBN 10: 0099273454
    Classifications

    BIC E4L: SCI
    Nielsen BookScan Product Class 3: S7.1
    BIC subject category V2: PSAJ
    LC subject heading:
    DC21: 576.8
    Warengruppen-Systematik des deutschen Buchhandels: 16700
    Ingram Subject Code: NA
    BISAC V2.8: SCI054000, EDU000000
    LC subject heading:
    DC22: 560.9
    BISAC V2.8: NAT000000
    Thema V1.0: PSAJ, RBX
    Illustrations note
    facsimiles
    Publisher
    VINTAGE
    Imprint name
    VINTAGE
    Publication date
    03 August 2000
    Publication City/Country
    London
    Review quote
    "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
    Review text
    The names themselves are weird: Yohoia, Opabinia, Hallucigenia. . .and more. They are among the weird and wonderful creatures buried in the Burgess Shale, a minuscule quarry "little taller than a man, and not so long as a city block" in British Columbia. They were the mother lode for Smithsonian Director C.D. Walcott, an indefatigable geologist/administrator who discovered the trove in 1909, and, true to the spirit of the times, "shoehorned" all these Cambrian marine specimens (over 500 million years ago) into a few latter-day phyla. And there's the rub, cries Gould, lecturing with a vengeance to eradicate what he sees as the two chief myths of evolution: the ladder of progress (from primitive and simple to glorious US) and the cone of diversity (from restricted and simple to more and better). The Burgess Shale is the crowning demonstration of a Christmas tree analogy: wonderfully rich and complex forms spread across the bottom branches, in time tapering to a few stereotyped branches at the top. Paleontologists Harry Whittington, Derek Briggs, and Simon Conway Morris re-dissected Walcott's fossils, revealing three-dimensional details of forms the likes of which have never been seen - like five-eyed, vacuum-cleaner nozzled Opabinia or bulbous-headed, spined and tentacled Hallucigenia Moreover, the explosive abundance of Burgess has now been repeated at other early sites. For Gould this means that life is maximal at the start, exploding in different shapes and styles that are subjected to the contingencies of history. Unpredictable events can destroy nearly all life, creating opportunities for the remainders. Replay the tape of history and you might end up with predacious birds, not mammals or men. Heady stuff this: Gould demands that readers learn anatomy, and he likes laboring points. But Gould fans will cheer this latest exhortation against purposive creation in favor of a universe "offering us maximum freedom to thrive, or to fail, in our own chosen way." (Kirkus Reviews)