Trilobite! Eyewitness to Evolution Paperback – 5 Mar 2001
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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. --Chris Lavers
Praise for ‘Dry Store Room No 1’:
‘This book is worthy of the place it tells us about, and that is a pretty lofty chunk of praise.’ The Times
‘In this loving survey of his life at the museum, Fortey…is never less than enthused by all the museum's collections.’ Financial Times
‘Fortey…in his affectionate portrayal of the institution in which he spent his working life … sneaks us behind the scenes with all the glee of a small child seeing for the first time the museum's iconic Diplodocus skeleton … always authoritative … the beauty of the book is that - just like a museum - you can visit the different sections in any order you choose, lingering in the places that most take your fancy … and there is plenty of solid science to enjoy, elucidated with brilliant flair.’ Sunday TimesSee all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
Trilobites, he continually reminds us, lasted far longer than the dinosaurs - nearly 300 million years, compared to the saurians' 120 million. Their persistence, Fortey explains, is due to their adaptability. They were so efficient at finding and filling ecological niches they are sometimes referred to as "the beetles of the Paleozoic". Fortey shows how various species inhabited deep oceans, shallow seas or glided through the mid-depths of the seas. The only niche left uninvaded, Fortey ponders ruefully, was fresh water streams and lakes. Had they done so, he muses, they might have persisted to modern times. Whether that step might have precluded our evolution, Fortey sets aside for others to consider.
We learn the anatomy of these lost arthropods, how the structure of the legs was discovered, how they grow from minuscule diatomic forms to more than lobster-sized. The most engaging aspect of trilobites was the variety and form of the eyes. Unlike the squishy, liquid-filled sensitive orbs we carry, trilobites "learned" enough chemistry to form eyes of calcite crystals.Read more ›
It wasn't difficult to startle and amaze me with trilobite facts as I knew almost nothing about them.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
An excellent little book. Richard Fortey has a very easy writing skill that makes reading his books a pleasure.Published 3 months ago by D J Webb
This book is simply stunning. Beautifully written - worth reading just for that alone. The passion fairly flows off the page. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Dr Murray
You just can't go wrong with Richard Fortey. Trilobites are his speciality and nobody knows more than him about these beasties.Published 5 months ago by Paul Ballantyne
Trilobite! The book's title says it all really. A remarkable piece of popular science writing on all things Trilobite told with passion and erudition told by one of the world's... Read morePublished 6 months ago by Sir Barnabas
Was a present for my mother - she loved it. Came earlier than expected too!Published 13 months ago by Lauren
Amazing book. This is the third copy I've sent to friends. Prompt deliveryPublished 18 months ago by s m osborne