on 28 June 2013
This is a book I really wanted to like and it has much to recommend it. However, it is riddled with both typos and relatively minor mistakes in the diagrams. For instance, Figure 4.4 groups the Hemichordata together with the Protostomia. It is clear from the main text that the authors have no intention of making such an outrageous claim, but in this age where students scan and copy source material without a moment's reflection, we should perhaps take extra care in preparing our diagrams. Before you know it, this turns up on Wikipedia as a "truth." Figure 4.13 labels the ectoderm as mesenchyme; again manifestly an oversight, and not intended as a shocking reinvention of anatomical terminology. I could go on, but you get the idea: the writers were in a hurry to get the book out, and, one guesses from the general behaviour of prominent academics, spending too much time on being important and too little on old-fashioned scholarship.
on 16 May 2016
This book covers exactly what I wanted to know - the context of the Ediacaran fauna and the Cambrian Explosion, what the Ediacaran fauna was and how things changed in the Cambrian, the effect of the Explosion on biodiversity etc. It is a high quality book with excellent illustrations.
Unfortunately for me, the book is clearly aimed at college/university students studying biology or palaeontology, and is full of jargon. "Crown deuterostomes have radial cleavage and are eucoelomic, with mesoderm typically arising from cells along the archenteron and coelomic space captured from the enterocoely." If this is your level of knowledge you will find this an excellent book. For me, a lot of it was over my head.
on 25 May 2015
I know nothing (sort of) about how life came about and why it came in waves. It does suggest that life can emerge in hostile environments easily and more often than once. This suggests it ought to be widely spread throughout the universe, and likely says we are not alone. And if we are not alone, what evolutionary trajectories are possible, other than the one that led to humans and world we see around us?
The Cambrian explosion is the era when the fauna dice were rolled and lots of diversity emerged. The book is technical but accessible but then good books tend to bite back a bit. As other reviewers have said it is really well illustrated and this adds to the books ability to build understanding in the reader. I commend the authors for thinking of a potentially much wider audience.
The authors note that we owe a lot to sponges. I thought, well that explains politicians and bankers! The often breezy style is refreshing and adds to the enjoyment.