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Trilobite!: Eyewitness to Evolution Hardcover – 1 Oct 2000


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf (1 Oct. 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375406255
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375406256
  • Product Dimensions: 22.1 x 15.4 x 2.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 3,070,183 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Richard Fortey retired from his position as senior palaeontologist at the Natural History Museum in 2006. He is the author of several books, including 'Fossils: A Key to the Past', 'The Hidden Landscape' which won The Natural World Book of the Year in 1993, 'Life: An Unauthorised Biography', 'Trilobite!', 'The Earth: An Intimate History', and most recently 'Dry Store Room No.1: The Secret Life of the Natural History Museum'. He was elected to be President of the Geological Society of London for its bicentennial year of 2007, and is a Fellow of the Royal Society.

Product Description

Amazon Review

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 Lavers --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

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

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Michael Scott on 31 July 2001
Format: Paperback
This book is superb. If you are at all interested in fossils, evolution or geology then buy it and read it without hesitation. It has rekindled my interest in all these subjects. The english used by the author is beautifully crafted and very witty. The photographs are stunning and the science is expressed in terms that are very easy for a layman to follow. Don't be put off by the early chapter which parallels Fortey's experiences in Cornwall with a character in one of Hardy's novels. Once you get through this and on to trilobites proper, you'll not be able to put the book down.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 8 Mar. 2002
Format: Paperback
It is hard not to share Richard Fortey's enthusiasm for Trilobites after reading this book. I found that, unlike with most science books, I read every word and didn't just skim for interesting snippets. I now know more about trilobites than I did after completing a 3-year gelology-oriented degree because interesting and enthusiastic writing sticks in the memory.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By "alpha2000" on 21 Dec. 2003
Format: Paperback
I've never really been a reader of science books, but the reviews of this were so good that i bought it to read on a long car journey, and it kept me entertained and interested the whole way there! Fortey's enthusiasm for trilobites is utterly infectious as he charts an exploration of their history and the history of those who study them, including himself. The book is packed with wonderful details on the structure of trilobite eyes, the protocol for naming fossils, anecdotes from Fortey's own life (being stung by a hornet in China!) and some groan-inducing puns (plans for a movie about rampaging trilobites called 'Thoraic Park'!). There is a wealth of scholarly and scientific detail in the book, but it never gets bogged down or becomes boring, and Fortey comes across as an engaging, obssessed, fascinating and fascinated man who can teach you the history of a fossil you may never have heard of and make you laugh at the same time. Highly recommended
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Sally-Anne on 10 July 2004
Format: Paperback
What interesting creatures. I feel I've learned a bit and would like to know more. I did read S J Gould's "Wonderful Life", about the fossilised creatures discovered in the Burgess Shale, a few years ago. That was fascinating too, but I found the author's gushing enthusiasm and sometimes over-imaginative speculation a bit of an impediment to my enjoyment. Now I try not to let style and presentation get in the way because quite a few popular science books seem to go in for this 'author centred story' sort of style and it would be a shame to miss out because of it. Style isn't everything and if a book is interesting, you can forgive the author's foibles. I think most of the interesting trilobite facts could have been covered in about 50 pages. This book is over 250 pages long because it covers the personal journey of the author from his first trilobite through the interesting people he met and worked with and whose work he admires (or not) and some interesting snatches of the history of palaeontology and the literature of Thomas Hardy and so on. It's not just a trilobite text book. There's lots of 'human interest' stuff here. Some people like that sort of thing and others can learn to relax and enjoy it. I tried to enjoy the personal four fifths of the book and didn't do too badly but the really interesting stuff for me was the information about trilobites.

It wasn't difficult to startle and amaze me with trilobite facts as I knew almost nothing about them.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 10 Mar. 2001
Format: Paperback
This is one for those who like Stephen Jay Gould's books. It shows us where there is controvery over the interpretation of observations of the fossil record, shows us how supposedly "primitive" creatures may have surprisingly complex structures and how dry seeming lists of creatures can unlock the secrets of ancient geography. Above all, this is a book about these long extinct creatures written by someone who has had a love affair with them since his teens. Indeed, the author states that he became fascinated with trilobites about the time his friends started to notice girls. Of course, those friends of his lost the chance to name a trilobite (an unusually beautiful one, Fortey says) after their wives. A good read, which brings to life a subject which could so easily be as dry as the fossil remains it describes. As an undergraduate studying geology in Cambridge about the time that Fortey was studying there, I can vouch for the accuracy of several of his pen portraits!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 30 April 2001
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Who would have thought that trilobites could be so interesting? Funny little creatures, they tell us about evolution, the past, and about human life today, through the window of those who study them. The style is always engaging, there are some wonderful photographs, and there is far more of interest here than you could probably imagine. Only towards the very end did I find that the pace flagged a bit. Maybe in ten years time there could be a new edition, and it would tell me, among other things, what was the purpose of the trident sticking out of the unnamed and newly-found trilobite's head?
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