’Trilobites have all the glamour of the dinosaur and twice its endurance. What we need, instead of Walking with Dinosaurs is something like Swimming with Trilobites. Everyone must grasp the bigger story. You start with something tiny, like trilobites, and finish up looking at how the world was made.’ RICHARD FORTEY
Richard Fortey is one of Britain’s leading popular scientists. Life: An Unauthorised Biography, was short-listed for the Rhone Poulenc prize and has been reprinted five times. In all he writes, Fortey displays extraordinary range, delight and descriptive gifts which make complicated scientific facts and concepts not only easy to understand but a delight to absorb.
Trilobite is an unashamedly trilobito-centric view of the world unravelling the history of the exotic, crustacean-like animals which dominated the seas for three hundred million years. These arthropods witnessed continents move, mountain chains elevated and eroded; they survived ice ages and volcanic eruptions, evolving and adapting exquisitely to their environment. They watched through their crystal eyes whilst life evolved. Their own evolution calibrated geological time itself.
In Trilobite, Fortey ponders the great cycles of earth history, the durability of stone compared with the transience of human life, and the fecundity of evolution. With his expert guidance, we begin to understand how trilobites reveal the mechanism and pattern of evolution from their legacy in the rocks. Through the eyes of the trilobites, he allows us glimpses of former worlds as exotic in their geography as in their life forms. This is time travel with the guidance of master.
Structured like a detective story, this is a light, but highly informative account of the wonders of scientific discovery.