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Five Kingdoms: Illustrated Guide to the Phyla of Life on Earth Hardcover – 1 Apr 1982

4.8 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 338 pages
  • Publisher: W.H.Freeman & Co Ltd (April 1982)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0716712121
  • ISBN-13: 978-0716712121
  • Product Dimensions: 24.4 x 21.3 x 2.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,402,377 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"Margulis and Schwartz have generated here that rarest of intellectual treasures--something truly original and useful . . . It is remarkable that no one had previously thought of producing such a comprehensive, obvious, and valuable document."--Stephen Jay Gould, from the Introduction"A source for innocent and expert alike . . . There is no other comparable guide to the winding path of organic evolution overall . . . A terse visual index to the living library of 10 million species."--"Scientific American""A sampler of life that does its subject justice . . . Margulis and Schwartz could (and should) be on every biologist's shelves."--"New Scientist""Offers an illustrated reference to both microbes and macroscopic organisms. Brief essays introduce broad outlines of kingdoms and phyla. Entries on specific organisms give information on appearance, environment, relations to other organisms, and how scientists group them, and include b&w photos and diagrams. An introduction explains classification systems. Includes lists of museums, geological sites, and Web sites, plus a glossary and lists of phyla and genera assigned to phyla . . . Useful for students of biology at any level."--"Book News""One of the backbones of a biology collection, as it lays out the variety of life in illustrations and text."--"VOYA (Voice of Youth Advocates)" --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

From the Publisher

Review and Contents
"Margulis and Schwartz have generated here that rarest of intellectual treasures - something truly original and useful. ... It is remarkable that no one had previously thought of producing such a comprehensive, obvious, and valuable document." Stephen Jay Gould

Contents:

Foreword: Stephen Jay Gould

Introduction

Superkingdom 1. Prokarya

Superkingdom 2. Eukarya

Kingdom Anamalia

Kingdom Fungi

Kingdom Plantae --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This is an excellent reference book. The descriptions and illustrations of the different phyla are very useful to professionals and amateurs alike. In particular, the authors provide the underlying rational used to distinguish one phylum from another. I only wish they had gone further and included some information on phylogeny, fossil records, first appearances, classes and orders, or extinct phylums. That's a lot of information to include, but even brief hints are valuable to a detailed research.
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Format: Paperback
This book was an integral part of science at college, where studying about various living organisms was concerned. It was one of the very few books recommended for a good level of basic understanding of living organisms.

The book was used for reference, rather than reading cover-to-cover. In terms of reference, this book was an excellent source of learning. I cannot say if it would benefit anyone to read the entire book, as each element of reference is used with its own context to understand living organisms, rather than memorising lists of names and terminology.

Having purchased this book many years ago, I believe I'm in a reasonably good position to rate it 5 stars. The book served its purpose for learning at the time, and is still used today for reference and learning purposes.
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Format: Paperback
This book is a stunning compendium of the range of life forms found on our planet. Margulis and Schwartz describe it as "a catalog of the world's living diversity." It is a vividly descriptive assortment of selected examples from the Five Kingdoms of life formulated by R.H. Whittiker. The authors stress how much new knowledge, particularly in the study of unicellular life forms, has been gained in recent years. They explain how classification identifies organisms and show how modern techniques have led to the expansion of life's kingdoms from two to five. A description of prokaryotes and eucaryotes is given, followed by the body of 92 phyla descriptions. The book is arranged to be either studied as a reference or browsed as an introduction to biological forms. Each entry is carefully organized with the type of information [environment, measurement scales, diagrams] in a consistent location.
However, this is more than simply a collection of illustrative examples of various organisms. The most fascinating chapter relates the authors' proposal to modify one of the standard classifications of life - the Protoctists, replacing Whittiker's Protists. "The Kingdom Protoctista is defined by exclusion," they state. "Its members are neither animals, plants, fungi nor procaryotes." Their common characteristics are nucleated cells, some kind of flagellum and live in an oxygenated atmosphere [unlike many unicellular forms which cannot tolerate oxygen. Their argument contends that many multicellular forms are more
directly related to these unicellular forms than they are to other multi-celled organisms. The new classification "also solves the problem of blurred boundaries that arises if the unicellular organisms are assigned to the multicellular kingdoms.
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Format: Hardcover
I bought this book for my own interest,which is finding out more about the developing Gaia hypothesis of James Lovelock and Lyn Margulis,and not for any specific academic work. For my purposes it has been an excellent buy,well up to the standards I expect from this now sadly deceased author.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 4.7 out of 5 stars 15 reviews
30 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Browsable and enriching dictionary of life on earth 1 April 2000
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This wonderful book is an endless source of recondite, amusing and enlightening tidbits of information about the fantastic diversity of living things with which we share this earth. In organizing their catalogue of biodiversity around the highest taxonomic level, the phylum, the authors subtly communicate lessons that are both humbling and uplifting. Humbling because one realizes that the entire biological group of backboned creatures that we think of as the paradigmatic "animals" -- mammals, fish, reptiles, birds and amphibians -- is just one among dozens of broad categories of species that populate earth's complex living systems. In fact it appears that much animal life is either microscopic or vermiform. Uplifting because we come to understand that we are ultimately kin to and interdependent with this entire teeming, manifold, cornucopia of life. The presentation, including photos and drawings as well as text, is clear and elegant, providing a wealth of detail about the distinctive metabolisms, feeding habits, body forms, ecological roles and reproductive cycles found in each phylum. We learn, for example, that one species of the remarkably ugly Echiurans, or spoon worms -- which look like out- takes deemed too repulsive for the movie Eraserhead -- holds the world record for the most extreme difference between male and female forms: the male is a tiny dwarf form nestled entirely inside the female's body, which presumably allows him to avoid entirely his share of the housework. Some forms of the microscopic one-celled Zoomastigina dwell symbiotically in the intestines of insects, apparently digesting cellulose to yield nutrients for themselves and their hosts. Such are the divergent options, so different from the choices of most members of our own species, for making a living on this planet.
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Most comprehensive, yet phylogenetically out of date 14 Dec. 2001
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I recommend this book partly on the basis of the two page descriptions and line drawings of each phylum. But I am most impressed with the substantially less animal bias in the treatment of every form of life. Regardless of whether one believes in a five kingdom system or a ten or more kingdom system, this book gives fair coverage to the less celebrated protist groups.
But with all the recent molecular studies that could have served to compliment Lynn's endosymbiotic scenarios, I was disappointed to not see any grand synthesis. With respect to algal phylogenetic hypotheses, a college phycology text published in 1995 (Algae : An Introduction to Phycology by C. Van Den Hoek and others) was more up to date than this 1998 work. In fact some of the groupings made were definitely artificial even without the benefit of the most recent molecular data. Among the most disappointing findings was the lumping of some Heterokonts with choanoflagellates into a "Zoomastigota". The Heterokonts is a fairly diverse group that includes brown algae, diatoms, and water molds and others on the basis of their undulipodia (flagella)and molecular characters. Choanoflagellates are simple organisms that are said to resemble sponge cells, and thus have been proposed to share the most recent common ancestor with true animals. Though I have no problems accepting paraphyletic taxa, even then this "Zoomastigota" would be artificial if molecular evidence continues to suggest that animals (with choanoflagellates) and fungi are closer to each other than they are to heterokonts or green plants.
A less serious quibble that I have was the unnecessary splitting of the Desmids, spirogyra, et al. from Chlorophyta (all green algae). The phylogeny illustrated within this book implies that this subset of the green algae is more closely related to Rhodophyta (red algae) and slime molds than to other green algae. I guess either she chooses to ignore many other characters (morphology and molecular) in favor of a few overriding features, or she feels that classification need not have reflect evolutionary relationships (if so she should say so). But still, to her credit, she still provides a coverage for many groups such as foraminifers, haptophytes, and cryptophytes that have not been adequately studied to place into the phylogeny of life. As the science of life evolves, no book can be counted on as the last word.
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent categorization of extant phyla. 19 Jun. 1998
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
This is an excellent reference book. The descriptions and illustrations of the different phyla are very useful to professionals and amateurs alike. In particular, the authors provide the underlying rational used to distinguish one phylum from another. I only wish they had gone further and included some information on phylogeny, fossil records, first appearances, classes and orders, or extinct phylums. That's a lot of information to include, but even brief hints are valuable to a detailed research.
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book for Bio students 10 Nov. 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I'm a biology student in high school, and this book has helped me to understand all parts of the 5 kingdoms. It's a big help. I highly reccomend it.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Life�s vast pageant 4 Aug. 2002
By Stephen A. Haines - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This book is a stunning compendium of the range of life forms found on our planet. Margulis and Schwartz describe it as "a catalog of the world's living diversity." It is a vividly descriptive assortment of selected examples from the Five Kingdoms of life formulated by R.H. Whittiker. The authors stress how much new knowledge, particularly in the study of unicellular life forms, has been gained in recent years. They explain how classification identifies organisms and show how modern techniques have led to the expansion of life's kingdoms from two to five. A description of prokaryotes and eucaryotes is given, followed by the body of 92 phyla descriptions. The book is arranged to be either studied as a reference or browsed as an introduction to biological forms. Each entry is carefully organized with the type of information [environment, measurement scales, diagrams] in a consistent location.
However, this is more than simply a collection of illustrative examples of various organisms. The most fascinating chapter relates the authors' proposal to modify one of the standard classifications of life - the Protoctists, replacing Whittiker's Protists. "The Kingdom Protoctista is defined by exclusion," they state. "Its members are neither animals, plants, fungi nor procaryotes." Their common characteristics are nucleated cells, some kind of flagellum and live in an oxygenated atmosphere [unlike many unicellular forms which cannot tolerate oxygen. Their argument contends that many multicellular forms are more
directly related to these unicellular forms than they are to other multi-celled organisms. The new classification "also solves the problem of blurred boundaries that arises if the unicellular organisms are assigned to the multicellular kingdoms." They list 27 phyla [of 36 total]with diagrams exhibiting a range of bizarre structures and life cycles.
Another noteworthy entry is Trichoplax adhaerens. Remember the name of this creature - "it is the simplest of animals." Composed of but a few thousand cells, it is a dull gray body just visible to the unaided eye. In looking at the photo and diagram of this creature invokes a sense of wonder - this is, after all, a distance relative living in the nearest aquarium with the shad.
This book is a delight to browse following one of the authors' intents. Their second purpose, using this book as a reference, is even more admirably met. Clear photographs coupled with excellent diagrams, including typical environments of the selected specimens, add visual support to a readable text base. Any reader interested in the way life is structured and seeking insights into evolutionary development would do well to consider this book. It's not an academic text, but conveys a wealth of meaningful information.
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