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Taking Wing: Archaeopteryx and the Evolution of Bird Flight [Paperback]

Pat Shipman
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
RRP: 16.99
Price: 12.51 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

15 Jan 1999
Species, the scientific world was set aflutter by an amazing discovery: a fossil skeleton exquisitely preserved, even to the impressions of individual feathers on its wings, had been found in the Bavarian region of Germany. Researchers determined that the unique coupling of its avian feathers and reptilian toothy skull offered tangible proof of the theory of evolution. Hailed as First Bird, Archaeopteryx became a celebrity among fossils, the subject of heated debates that have escalated over the past 130 years. Are birds actually living dinosaurs? Where does the fossil record really lead? What does it mean to fly? Taking Wing is a brilliant piece of detective work, deftly exploring how the thinking about the mysteries of flight has developed up to the present day.
--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Product details

  • Paperback: 340 pages
  • Publisher: Touchstone; 1st Touchstone Ed edition (15 Jan 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0684849658
  • ISBN-13: 978-0684849652
  • Product Dimensions: 2.1 x 14.9 x 22.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,373,056 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

More About the Author

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Product Description

Book Description

A scientific detective story which uncovers the origins of birds and bird flight --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

Pat Shipman is an anthropologist at Pennsylvania State University. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
The very first Archaeopteryx to be recognized was a feather impression, dark and clearly delineated on the pale, honey-colored limestone slab. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Heaps of Information 30 Mar 2001
Format:Paperback
This is a good book - THE book to read on the subject. There is no no time wasted on dreary old pseudoscience, but all the arguments, discoveries and controversies that have filled the history of these fossils are covered. And the latest theories and discoveries are fully explained.
That said, the information is disorganised, the diagrams are terrible, the writing style is poor - and do we really need to know about the vampire bat and Brewster McCloud? If the kitchen sink could fly it would have been included.
The subject matter alone should keep you hooked - it did me.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Power of Knowledge 10 Oct 2000
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Having studied Archaeopteryx at university a number of years ago, I was most excited to see this book on the shelf whilst rambling through a book store. Once home I opened it and started to read. It was three hours later when I put the book down due only to getting hungry.
It is a facinating read whether you have a knowledge of Archaeopteryx or not. Having never read one of Pat Shipmans books I can know say that I will be searching for more. Pat has the ability to convay information that keeps you on the edge of your seat, whilst being interesting and informative.
Well done Pat
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A bit dated now but still good 25 Feb 2011
Format:Paperback
Things have moved on a bit since this book was written and Archaeopteryx isn't quite the star it was. This is still a good book though, and one I used when writing my lecture notes. It covers the subject of flight very well and unlike one of the other reviewers I found the diagrams to be very useful. Alright, they're not works of art, but they are instructive and clear. Figure 19 sticks in my mind. It shows the comparison of the wing bones of a range of birds and demonstrates very clearly the difference in morphology between flappers (hummingbird) and soarers (albatross). Apart from coverage of Archaeopteryx and the evolution of birds, the whole book is a mine of information on the biology of bird flight and uses research by such experts as Ostrum, and Gatesy and Dial.

Pat Shipman is obviously a very good and thorough researcher and I personally liked her writing style. There is no black and white in science, just different shades of grey. Sometimes all you can do is read the evidence, make up your own mind, hope you've got it right and be prepared to back peddle if you haven't.

For me, if you're interested in flight and the evolution of birds this book is well worth a read.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Detailed but inconclusive 25 Sep 2006
Format:Hardcover
This is a rapidly evolving subject and things have moved on since the book was written.

The author has researched very intensively and the book is heavy on facts, arguments and counter arguments. There is however, little to take home with you.

I've read extreme versions of the tale including the work by Danish ornithologist Heilmann (birds are proto dinosaurs) and accounts by Robert Bakker (birds are derived dinosaurs). I tend to prefer the dinosaurs are birds argument which is gaining more momentum with every new fossil unearthed, but this book tries hard to be impartial and creates too much doubt. The author does not say what she thinks and why which would have been useful.

It is balanced and a good addition summarising our knowledge but there are probably far better works now available.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
As a palaeological detective Pat Shipman makes an excellent review of the various theories for the origin of vertebrate flight. Very readable as well as informative. A must read for anyone interested in this field.
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