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The Atlas of the Prehistoric World Hardcover – 17 Nov 1999

5.0 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Hardcover, 17 Nov 1999
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Marshall Editions (17 Nov. 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 184028255X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1840282559
  • Product Dimensions: 29.2 x 23.2 x 2.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 426,986 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Amazon Review

The Earth is not the spring chicken it was 4.6 billion years ago. With the passing of the millennia, earth's face, weathered by heat and ice and subject to tectonic friction, has erupted, wrinkled and sagged, as do all our faces ultimately, only more so. Continents have shifted, merged and split apart. Seas have turned to land and land has been submerged by seas. And micro-organisms have evolved into the vast diversity of flora and fauna that exists today. Douglas Palmer's Atlas is a digest of what is known so far about the history of the Earth, enhanced with brilliant maps, photographs and illustrations, and explained in lucid, enjoyable prose.

The Atlas starts off with "The Changing Globe", 36 beautiful pages of maps that chart the changing face of the earth from Vendian Times some 620 million years ago, when land was massed in two continents called Northern and Southern Gondwana. Flipping through the vivid pages, one sees how Siberia, during Early Cambrian Times, began to move north from its South Pole location, how in Odovician Times (460 million years ago) the Iapetus Ocean was beginning to close while the Rheic Ocean was starting to open and how a volcano in what's now Virginia spewed volcanic ash as far away as what's now Minnesota, while in Carboniferous Times (a mere 354 million years ago), there were swampy forests in Nova Scotia that are the coalfields of today.

"Ancient Worlds," the next section of the atlas, charts life, from the aquatic microbes formed 3.5 billion years ago and the multicelled organisms of the Vendian Period, the early-Cambrian brachiopods and the Silurianspiny trilobites, on through to the Jurassic and Cretaceous dinosaurs, the Tertiary mammals, and the entrance of hominids just 5 million years ago. The extinction of the dinosaurs is explained, the Ice Age is described and, in the "Earth Fact File", 200 years of scientific discovery are chronicled.

Douglas Palmer, a professor of natural and earth sciences at Cambridge University, also writes science articles for Science and New Scientist and is the author of many books on paleontology. His Atlas is an excellent layperson's reference for families and students, rendering a vast amount of history and science in a highly accessible, entertaining format. --Stephanie Gold,

Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
It will not be timeless in itself but the timeline this book provides is without a doubt very handy when reading about past times.
When I'm reading about ancient life forms that once occupied the earth I allways wondered where for example Africa lay 100 million years ago. This book provides an excellent view on how the world may have looked like during its existance. And it turns this also around by describing each period, and not only the dino-era, with the animals that lived then. The concept of describing the earth this way, accompanied with lots of illustrations gives a good idea of how nature might have looked and is very entertaining.
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By A Customer on 15 Feb. 2004
Format: Hardcover
Although some of the contents have already been superseded by recent scientific discoveries, this is still the most accessible work available. There are two sections to the book. The first section introduces the reader to the history of the planed, how the continents moved etc. The second part is about the evolution of life. The book is fully illustrated with accurate yet beautiful illustrations of what it probably looked like at the time. Every page is put into context by placing a small timeline at the top of the page. Therefore, you will always know how long ago something happened. The book contains examples from around the world (a map of the location is always included). A comprehensive index and an extensive glossary complete this excellent book. It is suitable for anyone with an interest. No specialist knowledge is required to enjoy this book.
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Format: Hardcover
This book goes with the course book for the OU level one course on fossils. I got both books from Amazon and saved £120 on the course. Together they give you a very clear introduction to paleontology.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Wonderful book. Pages of glorious illustrations. Delivered on time for a ridiculously small sum of money. Thank you.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.6 out of 5 stars 16 reviews
32 of 34 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A coffee-table book for dinosaur geeks 12 Dec. 1999
By Thomas Harris - Published on
Format: Hardcover
It is a little-known fact that most of the dinosaurs in the film "Jurassic Park" are actually from the Cretaceous period, millions of years later.
That is one thing I learned from the ''Atlas of the Prehistoric World,'' a coffe-table book from The Discovery Channel's publishing imprint.
The highlights of the book, of course, are the lavish illustrations, which chart the movement of the world's contients from before the forming of the Pangean supercontinent to modern times -- and which always show you where things were in relation to where they are today.
It's a little awe-inspiring to realize just how much change the world has undergone in just the last 620 million years.
A bit less impressive, unfortunately, are the sections later on that explain what forms of life were around at what periods of time. Author Douglas Palmer's text probably is as detailed as that you'll find in any other coffee-table volume, but that isn't saying much. Books like this always excel at pictures and disappoint with the explanatory text. In this case, the text reads like something intended for intelligent junior-high students, which may not be a bad thing if you are one or are buying this book for one.
Anyway, if prehistoric times interest you, you'll probably find, as do I, that the illustrations' merits outweigh the text's faults.
24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cut well above the average 1 Sept. 2000
By Roger McEvilly (the guilty bystander) - Published on
Format: Hardcover
This is an excellent buy for natural science enthusiasts. It has been arranged in splended fashion, with large scale maps, great illustrations, and more and less detailed sections of text-depending on the tastes of the reader, in different sections of the book. It contains beautifully coloured palaeogeographic maps of the contintents (eg if you are one of those people who likes to know where Alaska was on the earth 250 million years ago), and a fairly detailed notes and reference section at the back, where historical outlines, scientific debates, stories, glossary, biological, and other technical information is discussed. There is descriptions throughout of famous fossils, fossil sites, major historic finds, scientific debates, the origin of life, the Burgess Shale, the ediacra fauna, the Cambrian explosion, dinosaurs, mammals and their origins, birds and their evolution, the K-T and other mass extinction events,the rise of the hominids, the ice ages, and so on.
The authors have done a really 1st class job in packing in so much information, arranged in a way that can be understood and perused according to the tastes of the reader. Not to mention the fantastic illustrations/and or real photographs-from in situ-stegosaur fossil finds, to early Cambrian Hallucegenia, to T rex skeletons, to giant kangaroos, to mammoths being dug out of the Russian steppes, to Mongolian dinosaur eggs, to Hominid illustrations on the African savannah.
A fantastic book, one well above the average 'atlas'-type compilation, for both scientists and the general reader.
19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars good intro on prehistoric life 1 Mar. 2001
By Tim F. Martin - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I found this book delightful. While not as hard hitting or as "meaty" as Fortey's Life or the recent Scientific American Book of Dinosaurs, it does provide a nice overview in coffee-table-book-format of life on earth. I liked how it presented the fauna and flora for each geologic period, illustrating a particular environment for a given location in that time period, such as the Ghost Ranch fauna in Triassic New Mexico or the Vendian fauna from Precambrian Australia. I particularly liked the Riversleigh marsupial fauna and the Eocene Messel fauna (and flora too) of Germany.
There are many nice maps of the Earth throughout its history showing the appearence and disappearance of the continents, tracing the rise and fall of Pangea, Gondwanaland, and Laurasia.
The book has several appendices about a number of subjects, such as volcanoes, plate tectonics, fossil formation, sedminentation, and biographies of major paleonotologists. They are rather basic, but help make this a great book for those new to prehistoric life and would make this an excellent text for middle school or high school students.
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Book With Two Uses 1 July 2000
By Bucherwurm - Published on
Format: Hardcover
You can use this book as a very basic means to learn some interesting basic paleontology (really, folks, that's not a word that should be associated with boredom). Or, use it as I do as an excellent reference tool.
The book begins with almost fifty pages of global maps showing the position of the continents and the condition of earth from Precambrian times to the present. Most of the rest of the book is devoted to picturing and describing life forms during the same periods. Chapters at the end of the book deal with plate tectonics, types of rock, fossils and dating techniques and many other appropriate subjects. And yes, dinosaur fans, there is a section on the K-T boundary, that period 65 million years ago when the Chicxulub meteorite ended their reign.
I'm currently reading a book on oceanography, in which the author describes a late Cambrian creature called Hallucigenia which had stiff spikes on one side and flexible appendages on the other side. The creature was so strange that for a long time scientists could not determine which sides were top or bottom. There was no picture of this oddity in my oceanography book, and being very curious about Hallucigenia's appearance I grabbed my Atlas of the Prehistoric world. Sure enough, there was a good picture of the fossil. The atlas is packed with fossil photos and artistic renderings of what these creatures probably looked like. Paper quality and layout are excellent, and I like the fact that each section is presented by earth's ages. Trying to remember just what the Devonian period is famous for? Finding the answer (it is fish) is easy.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Quite good, but... 18 Oct. 2001
By Paulo Cesar Freire - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I had my doubts about this book when I received it. It seemed to
be a child's book. However, reading it my first impression quicly went away. Its colourfulness makes it a good, amusing reading; the good paleo-art is combined with good scientific standards, and I learned a lot from it.
There are two things that I would like to suggest for a later edition:
1 ) I would like to see some taxonomic trees. That would help me to understand a few things that weren't clear from reading the book. For instance, did the synapsids evolve from reptiles, or were they never reptiles, and evolved directly from aphibian ancestry? Perhaps some explanation on the cladistics studies that have been made is in order.
I think the taxonomic trees would make relationships between the different families and animals clearer. And I would appreciate trees not centered on mammals, but showing these on par with all the other big divisions that evolved from the amphibians, like the lizards, birds, turtles, etc (some of which we group under that ill-defined label of "Reptiles").
2 ) My other complaint has to do with precisely this human self-centrism: did the fish stoped evolving after the Devonian? I understand that the book needs some sort of direction, but I think the formula "first microbes" -> "us " (which this book has to some point evaded) is a tired one, and forgets too many branches, and perhaps the most important, of life's evolution. For instance, I would like to see a few pages on the evolution of plants, which had a major influence on the evolution of animals (where would we be without that great invention, the tree?).
But I agree that space in this book is limited, and its intended readership wide, so given that, I think a good compromise was reached, with the exception of the taxonomic trees.
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