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Wonderful Life: The Burgess Shale and the Nature of History
by Stephen Jay Gould | Science
Registered by monado of Toronto, Ontario Canada on 8/17/2003
Average 10 star rating by BookCrossing Members 

status (set by monado): permanent collection

1 journaler for this copy...

Journal Entry 1 by monado from Toronto, Ontario Canada on Sunday, August 17, 2003

10 out of 10

This book is amazing. After many long years, scientists have re-examined the fossils of the Burgess Shale in the Canadian Rockies. This is one of the best sites in the world for fossils: the fossils are from just after the Cambrian explosion of forms and conditions were right to preserve even soft-bodied creatures.

The re-examination found varied organisms so diverse that most of them do not fit into our remaining phyla. Gould does a masterful job of explaining what this means and why it is so. The radical re-evaluation was a huge improvement in our understanding of evolution as a process of diversifying and then pruning or "shaking out."

Gould makes the point that if one were to "re-wind the tape" to that point in history and then play it again, the chance that chordates (those with spinal cords) would survive to evolve again would be small; and the chances of human evolution would be vanishingly small.

Books by Stephen Jay Gould:
- Wonderful Life: The Burgess Shale and the Nature of History
- An Urchin in the Storm: Essays about Books and Ideas
- Leonardo's Mountain of Clams & the Diet of Worms: Essays on Natural History
- The Mismeasure of Man
- Bully for Brontosaurus
- Ever Since Darwin
- The Panda's Thumb
- The Flamingo's Smile
- Hen's Teeth and Horse's Toes
- Eight Little Piggies
- Dinosaur in a Haystack
- I Have Landed: The End of a Beginning in Natural History

Books by Lewis Thomas:
- The Lives of a Cell: Notes of a Biology Watcher
- The Medusa and the Snail More Notes of a Biology Watcher
- The Fragile Species
- The Youngest Science: Notes of a Medicine Watcher
- Late Night Thoughts on Listening to Mahler's Ninth Symphony

Other books:
- Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard
- The Origin of Species by Charles Darwin
- Ocean Life in Colour by Norman Bertram 

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