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The Fossil Hunter: Dinosaurs, Evolution, and the Woman Whose Discoveries Changed the World (MacSci) [Kindle Edition]

Shelley Emling
3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)

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Book Description

At a time when women were excluded from science, a young girl made a discovery that marked the birth of paleontology and continues to feed the debate about evolution to this day.


Mary Anning was only twelve years old when, in 1811, she discovered the first dinosaur skeleton--of an ichthyosaur--while fossil hunting on the cliffs of Lyme Regis, England. Until Mary's incredible discovery, it was widely believed that animals did not become extinct. The child of a poor family, Mary became a fossil hunter, inspiring the tongue-twister, "She Sells Sea Shells by the Seashore." She attracted the attention of fossil collectors and eventually the scientific world. Once news of the fossils reached the halls of academia, it became impossible to ignore the truth. Mary's peculiar finds helped lay the groundwork for Charles Darwin's theory of evolution, laid out in his On the Origin of Species. Darwin drew on Mary's fossilized creatures as irrefutable evidence that life in the past was nothing like life in the present.


A story worthy of Dickens, The Fossil Hunter chronicles the life of this young girl, with dirt under her fingernails and not a shilling to buy dinner, who became a world-renowned paleontologist. Dickens himself said of Mary: "The carpenter's daughter has won a name for herself, and deserved to win it."


Here at last, Shelley Emling returns Mary Anning, of whom Stephen J. Gould remarked, is "probably the most important unsung (or inadequately sung) collecting force in the history of paleontology," to her deserved place in history.



Product Description

Review

"Emling writes with a style that makes "The Fossil Hunter" very hard to put down before reaching the last page."--"Winnepeg Free Press" "Readable, journalistic, Emling's amply footnoted book skillfully puts Anning's work into the scientific and sociological context." --"The New York Times" "Released just weeks after Tracy Chevalier's fictional account of Anning's life, Emling's account pays tribute to Anning in an original and gripping historical biography." --"Financial Times" "Dinosaurs are astonishing today -- and we've had several hundred years of biology to help us absorb the shock. Imagine the shock caused by these monster creatures discovered and presented by a poor, twelve-year old girl, in the early 19th century. This is the remarkable story that Emling tells so well, evoking a world far from ours that in just a few years took a destitute pre-teen scavenging the crumbling cliffs of Lyme Regis to the pages of the leading scientific journals of her time." -- Peter Galison, author of Einstein's Clock's and Poincare's Maps and Joseph Pellegrino University Professor, Harvard University

"Shelley Emling vividly brings to life the fascinating story of Mary Anning, the greatest fossil hunter of the early nineteenth century. Anning single-handedly recovered an extraordinary collection of fossils of marine and flying reptiles that helped shape the way we now see the incredibly long history of life on Earth. With this enjoyable book, Emling gives Anning her deserved place in history." --Hans Sues, Associate Director of Research and Collections, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution

""The Fossil Hunter "at long last brings to life one of the central figures in the early golden age of paleontological discovery -- a woman of great diligence, and passion, and with a keen eye for fossil bone in the rock. As a young child, I was greatly inspired by Mary Anning. As an adult, working paleontologist, I remain so, a conviction doubtless reinforced by Sh

Book Description

The remarkable tale of a young woman who discovered the first dinosaur fossil and sparked a conversation about evolution continued by scientists from Darwin to Gould

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1284 KB
  • Print Length: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan Trade (13 Oct. 2009)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.ą r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B002SQFLZ8
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #301,256 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Slightly disappointed 17 Nov. 2009
Format:Hardcover
Ms Emling has undoubtedly carried out lengthy research into her book however the book is too full of subjective comments. The book tries to mix fact with fiction however the fiction part is too full of improvised comments or guess work i.e.constantly inferring what 'must have happened' to Mary, what she must have been thinking or what may have happened. I found it quite wearing. Bare in mind that the book is aimed at the American market. (Something I missed at purchase)
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Too many errors! 2 Mar. 2010
Format:Hardcover
I, too, missed the fact that this book was written by an American. I finished it only because I was interested in finding out more about Mary Anning. It is very disappointing to find that her research did not stretch as far as finding out that Dorset and Devon are not "boroughs" but counties! Or that it wasn't just people in Lyme who drank small beer because the water was undrinkable or that "small beer" was not strong beer watered down.
I appreciate that the American reader comes from a different cultural base than British readers, but this type of error serves only to perpetuate an inaccurate picture. The writing style is florid and repetitive. Lack of detail has been compensated for by conjecture - she would have been better to admit to ignorance. Her editor needs sacking!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Don't waste your money! 31 Dec. 2011
By Yorkie
Format:Hardcover
This is probably the most badly-written, sloppily-edited popular science book I've ever read. To be fair, the author does warn us about what to expect: "I have taken a few liberties in an effort to fill the gaps in Mary's life but tried to make it clear when this was the case." She's not exaggerating - almost every paragraph contains the words "may have", "perhaps", "probably" etc. It's truly painful to read. And, as has also been pointed out, the book is full of inexcusably careless errors. Sorry, Shelley, you won't get a free pass from me just because you're American!

I eventually gave up after reading the following:

"By the late 1820s, diabolical beasts from the past were gripping the public's imagination like never before, with some wondering whether snaky bodies might still be alive, lurking beneath the leaden cloak of the sea...The image defied the sensibilities of many, with educated critics and even the humblest farmers unable to fathom such a thing as an Age of Reptiles...Even Mary probably sometimes wondered whether she might turn a corner on the Lyme Regis shore, only to catch a sudden glimpse of the bulging eyes of an ichthyosaur of the crushing teeth of a pterodactyl."

There's something equally cringe-worthy on almost every page. This sort of writing might pass muster with a vanity press, what how on earth did it get published by Macmillan?
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars She sell sea-shells 11 Mar. 2010
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I think some reviews have been somewhat harsh; I have throughly enjoyed this book and it has encouraged me to search out more books on Mary Anning. Yes, an American writer often gets things 'wrong'; she mentions flooding - when Lyme Regis suffered from a dreadful storm - to first storey (English spelling here) level, whereas this would've drowned people on our 'ground' floor. American 'first storey' is our ground floor. And there is surmise along the way, but it adds verisimilitude and seldom is surmise presented as fact. What the book does is bring Mary's story to life. I have enjoyed it and recommend it to those who know nothing of Mary and her remarkable life; it might even encourage them, as it has me, to find out even more.

I would also add that the cover design is one of the most attractive and appropriate I have seen in a long time, so congratulations to cover design team.
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