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1. Unearthing the Dragon
$55.00 $52.59
2. On the Origin of Phyla
$96.99 list($270.00)
3. Evolution of the Vertebrates:
$122.95 $95.99
4. Encyclopedia of Dinosaurs
$18.45 $16.24 list($27.95)
5. Climate Crash: Abrupt Climate
$14.96 $13.99 list($22.00)
6. The Great Human Diasporas: The
$300.00 $221.88
7. Paleoecology: Concepts and Applications,
$355.00 $299.94
8. Encyclopedia of Paleontology
9. The Evolution and Extinction of
$16.96 list($19.95)
10. Fossil Shark Teeth of the World
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11. The Dinosauria
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12. Bones of Contention: A Creationist
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13. Future Evolution
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14. The Crucible of Creation: The
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15. When Life Nearly Died: The Greatest
16. Origin of Land Plants
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17. The Ape in the Tree : An Intellectual
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18. The Human Fossil Record, Brain
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19. Bones, Stones and Molecules :
20. The Carnivorous Dinosaurs (Life

1. Unearthing the Dragon
by Mark A. Norell, Mick Ellison
list price: $30.00
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Asin: 0131862669
Catlog: Book (2005-06-03)
Publisher: Pi Press
Sales Rank: 26402
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2. On the Origin of Phyla
by James W. Valentine
list price: $55.00
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Asin: 0226845486
Catlog: Book (2004-06-18)
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
Sales Rank: 159606
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Book Description

Owing its inspiration and title to On the Origin of Phlya, James W. Valentine's ambitious book synthesizes and applies the vast treasury of theory and research collected in the century and a half since Darwin's time. By investigating the origins of life's diversity, Valentine unlocks the mystery of the origin of phyla.

One of the twentieth century's most distinguished paleobiologists, Valentine here integrates data from molecular genetics, evolutionary developmental biology, embryology, comparative morphology, and paleontology into an analysis of interest to scholars from any of these fields. He begins by examining the sorts of evidence that can be gleaned from fossils, molecules, and morphology, then reviews and compares the basic morphology and development of animal phyla, emphasizing the important design elements found in the bodyplans of both living and extinct phyla. Finally, Valentine undertakes the monumental task of developing models to explain the origin and early diversification of animal phyla, as well as their later evolutionary patterns.

Truly a magnum opus, On the Origin of Phyla will take its place as one of the classic scientific texts of the twentieth century, affecting the work of paleontologists, morphologists, and developmental, molecular, and evolutionary biologists for decades to come.

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3. Evolution of the Vertebrates: A History of the Backboned Animals Through Time
by Edwin Harris Colbert, Michael Morales
list price: $270.00
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Asin: 0471850748
Catlog: Book (1991-03)
Publisher: Wiley-Liss
Sales Rank: 578737
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Book Description

An investigation of the evolution of backboned animals (vertebrates), now appearing in its Fourth Edition. Traces the history of each major vertebrate group from its origin to its extinction or the emergence of the next, more advanced group. Contains drawings and illustrations depicting lifelike renderings of these creatures of the past. ... Read more

4. Encyclopedia of Dinosaurs
by Kevin Padian, Philip J. Currie
list price: $122.95
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Asin: 0122268105
Catlog: Book (1997-09-17)
Publisher: Academic Press
Sales Rank: 274149
Average Customer Review: 4.67 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

This book is the most authoritative encyclopedia ever prepared on dinosaurs and dinosaur science. In addition to entries on specific animals such as Tyrannosaurus, Triceratops, and Velociraptor, the Encyclopedia of Dinosaurs covers reproduction, behavior, physiology, and extinction. The book is generously illustrated with many detailed drawings and photographs, and includes color pictures and illustrations that feature interpretations of the best known and most important animals. All alphabetical entries are cross-referenced internally, as well as at the end of each entry. The Encyclopedia includes up-to-date references that encourage the reader to investigate personal interests.

Key Features
*The most authoritative encyclopedia ever prepared on dinosaurs
*Includes many detailed drawings, photographs and illustrations in both color and black-and-white
*Contains comprehensively cross-referenced alphabetical entries with internal references, as well as references at the conclusion of each entry
*Provides in-depth references, allowing readers to pursue independent interests
*Includes sixteen plates and 35 color illustrations
... Read more

Reviews (6)

5-0 out of 5 stars Great Book
This is a great book, considering how huge it is. Being written in 1998, this book has all the current knowledge. There's more info on the actual era and the technical asspects of dinosaurs than the actual dinosaurs. Despite the price, this book is worth it.

5-0 out of 5 stars Questions about dinosaurs that go deeper than the surface?
If so, then this is the book for you! The Encyclopedia of Dinosaurs is a wonderful, up-to-date book that covers most, if not all, topics concerned with dinosaurs. Well put-together, beautifully illustrated, and written by today's top paleontologists, the Encyclopedia is well worth the price. Although it doesn't get too technical, this book is not for the uninformed. A must have for any serious dino-enthusiast - believe me, it will answer your questions, and lead you to ask more! 5 stars may not be enough for this one! (Plus it's massive enough to knock some sense into the not-so-dino-loving loved one or associate in your life!)

5-0 out of 5 stars This definitely belongs on the shelf of any dino-lover.
When I first received this book for Christmas, I was shocked! The book was the size and weight of a telephone book! It's packed with skeletal drawings, cladograms, paintings... You name it, it's in the text.

4-0 out of 5 stars Nice work!
This is really a good book, with much nice information and artwork (although more art plates may have been a good idea). The numerous articles are written by specialists and that makes the book more up-to-date and interesting than many others. However, articles are very short, so that people will quickly become interested to get more informations. This is possible with references given at the end of each entry.

However, I think this book is a bit too technical for the basal concepts it describes; the style *The Complete Dinosaur* is, I think, more approprite.

5-0 out of 5 stars Finally, up to date information on dinosaurs!
We've all read the bylines: the public loves dinosaurs. And it's true. But we're also not all that discriminating. As a result, many dinosaur books are very out of date. The Encyclopedia of Dinosaurs is a notable exception to this. Each topic is written not only by a paleontologist, but by a dinosaur paleontologist who specializes in that particular subject. The result? A compendium of information that could otherwise be obtained only by attending perfessional meetings for years. And of course, at professional meetings technical laguage is the norm. Anyone want to decipher "the relevance of the arctometatarsilian pes to the phylogenetic analysis of coelurosaurian theropods"..? The Encyclopedia of Dinosaurs is written plainly and clearly. Any interested adult or teenager could master the knowledge within much easier than, say, highschool algerbra. As a student of paleontology, and someone who has attended numerous professional meetings, I can say with confidence that this book will equip any aspiring paleontologist with the knowledge needed to reach the "next leve" of understanding of the dinosaurs. ... Read more

5. Climate Crash: Abrupt Climate Change And What It Means For Our Future
by John D. Cox
list price: $27.95
our price: $18.45
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Asin: 0309093120
Catlog: Book (2005-04-01)
Publisher: Joseph Henry Press
Sales Rank: 22689
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Book Description

Watch out for natural climate change. From warm to cold, wet to dry, it doesn't behave the way scientists thought it did. A drastic climate shift more sudden and troublesome than we'd ever imagined could already be underway.

As scientists carefully search for clues in the sun and storm patterns from our distant past, they are gradually writing a new history of Earth's climate. Layers extracted from cores drilled into glaciers and ice sheets, sediments collected from the shores of lakes and oceans, and growth rings exposed in ancient corals and trees all tell the same surprising story.

It is now apparent that alterations in our climate can happen quickly and dramatically. Physical evidence reveals that centuries of slow, creeping climate variations have actually been punctuated by far more rapid changes. While this new paradigm represents a significant shift in our picture of Earth's past, the real question is what it means for our future.

Many researchers are now quietly abandoning the traditional vision of a long, slow waltz of slumbering ice ages and more temperate periods of interglacial warming. While they've long recognized the threats posed by global warming, they must now consider that the natural behavior of our climate is perhaps a greater threat than we'd imagined. And though there is no need for immediate alarm, the fact that changes in our climate can happen much more quickly than we'd originally thought—perhaps in the course of a human lifetime—makes it clear that science has a lot of questions to answer in this area.

What are the mechanisms for triggering a significant climate change? In what ways should we expect this change to manifest itself? When will it likely happen? Climate Crash seeks to answer these questions, breaking the story of rapid climate change to a general public that is already intensely curious about what science has to say on the topic. ... Read more

6. The Great Human Diasporas: The History of Diversity and Evolution (Helix Books)
by Luigi Luca Cavalli-Sforza, Francesco Cavalli-Sforza, Sarah Thorne
list price: $22.00
our price: $14.96
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Asin: 0201442310
Catlog: Book (1996-10-01)
Publisher: Addison Wesley Publishing Company
Sales Rank: 50440
Average Customer Review: 4.24 out of 5 stars
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The title The Great Human Diasporas implies that this book is a history of human migration, but it is much more. It is a readable, accessible summary of the lifework of Luca Cavalli-Sforza, who has done more than anyone else to reveal the genetic makeup of human populations. Originally written in Italian with Cavalli-Sforza's filmmaker son Francesco, it maintains some qualities of an interview: The Great Human Diasporas is full of anecdotes about the Pygmies with whom Cavalli-Sforza works, the text is frequently personal yet not self-serving, and it clearly shows how he helped tie together population genetics, linguistics, and anthropology to offer a new, non-racist view of human diversity. ... Read more

Reviews (17)

5-0 out of 5 stars genes, languages, prehistoric human migrations
The most rewarding part of this popular science book is the middle, fifth to seventh chapters, in which Luigi Luca Cavalli-Sforza, Professor of Genetics at Stanford Medical School, draws on scientific research in human population genetics, in which he has been a well respected pioneer, to describe the migration of human populations beginning about 100,000 years ago out of Africa until recent times. Because patterns of genetic and linguistic evolution exhibit high intercorrelations--even though their respective elements and mechanics differ--he also cites linguistic evidence for this account of migratory prehistory.

The most valuable contribution of this book to popular understanding is that population genetics provides possibly the best though not sole scientific basis on which to construct the prehistory of human "races." By this evidence, we learn, for example, about the migration of modern Homo sapiens to Southeast Asia and Australia approximately 55,000 to 60,000 years ago or about the spread of Neolithic farmer-cultivators from the Middle East into Europe beginning about 9,000 to 10,000 years ago. I suspect that readers unfamiliar with modern human evolution will find the genetic tree of the world's populations on page 119 intriguing. The diagram shows, for example, that Northeast Asians are more closely related to Europeans than Northeast Asians are to Southeast Asians.

For as rapidly advancing a science as human population genetics, it should not be surprising that some findings are dated. Recent evidence suggests, for instance, that North Asians descended from both southern China populations that gradually migrated northward as well as Caucasian populations that migrated eastward, so that some genetic mixing all across North Asia took place and is the source of the observed racial connections between North Asians and Caucasians.

In other chapters, Cavalli-Sforza tackles related topics somewhat unevenly. His anecdotes about the African pygmies are light and sympathetic. While his description of the hominid line is accurate for the time of publication, there are more insightful not to mention updated accounts now in print. His discussion of the links between genes and culture is engaging and humane but from the standpoint of science, no better than educated. His rejoinder to the controversial The Bell Curve (1994) is scientifically persuasive.

I very much enjoyed reading this book, the first I purchased at

2-0 out of 5 stars Wandering through human nature
This collaboration between one of the great population geneticists and his filmmaker son promises much but lets down on delivery. The style and content of the book are uneven. Some topics are told in detail and with compelling narrative, particularly the account of L. L. Cavalli-Sforza's work since the 1960s to establish correlations among genetic, linguistic, and archaeological evidence for the history and relationships of the major human groups. Much weaker, however, is his grasp of cultural anthropology, whether in details or in methods. He attempts to convey an impression of the hunter-gatherer lifestyle (predominant through almost all of human history until the last 10,000 years) through extended references to his field research among African pygmies.

Unfortunately, though he is quite sympathetic to the pygmies and their way of life, much of the effect is lost in empty generalities (p. 16: "The forest may look gloomy to us but pygmies feel entirely at home and safe there. It is a place where little that is untoward can happen to them, where danger is limited and life very pleasant."), and his cross-cultural examples come almost exclusively from pygmies or from his personal experience of various Western Europeans. Some points of history, used as examples, are in error (Bede was an English monk who lived from 672 or 673 to 735; not a "sixth-century Irish monk" p. 80).

Cavalli-Sforza also seems to have little knowledge of modern cultural anthropology. Chapter 8 "Cultural legacies, genetic legacies" is particularly weak, treating a number of topics in a very superficial way, showing no knowledge of the huge body of literature on, among others, marriage patterns and the incest taboo, national character, or "cultural evolution". Some of the problems with this book undoubtedly rest with the translator, who seems to have chosen occasionally awkward or confusing phrasings in English.

The book is best when it recounts Cavalli-Sforza's personal experiences and the quest for a unified picture of the relations among human groups. His anecdotes and observations add a human and historical perspective to the story of population genetics, and the technical matters are explained in a comprehensible and even entertaining way. He makes a strong case that differences among human "races" are only skin deep, reflecting adaptation to different climates over the last sixty thousand years, and tells some of his own part in the battle over the IQ and race debate (recently re-ignited with the publication of _The Bell Curve_). One suspects that he would be a great conversationalist at a dinner party, and the portrait of the author (along with his substantial knowledge of human genetics and historical linguistics) is what keeps one reading.

5-0 out of 5 stars good account of human history
Great Huaman Diaspporas covers the history of humanity from its origins in Africa and how it spread through different parts of the world. It goes into homo saphiens forefathers and how homo saphiens forefathers evolved into modern man. It also deals with how gene environments influenced genes. It also deals with how language language and race developed.

Overall, a account of how humanity developed it in terms of genes, race and langage.

4-0 out of 5 stars Good, but no clear objective.
Much interesting material, and some difficult concepts explained clearly for the general lay person. However, the book has no clear objective. It is best read as a supplement to the Pulitzer Prize winning book by Jared Diamond, "Guns, Germs and Steel".

5-0 out of 5 stars Really good, I Recommend it
Ok, this will be a short one. The book is really good, I recommend it vastly. As a molecular biologist I am impressed with the expertise of L. L. Cavalli-Sforza in varios areas of science. He does not only manage to comunicate in an easy manner the complexities of genetics and molecular biology (related to this subject), but also accomplishes to clarify lots of linguistic information gathered through his life studies. This last topic was the hardest for me to understand, though I believe language studies are not easy. So, as said in the beginning, this book is highly recommended. ... Read more

7. Paleoecology: Concepts and Applications, 2nd Edition
by James R. Dodd, Robert J. Stanton
list price: $300.00
our price: $300.00
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Asin: 0471857114
Catlog: Book (1990-03-07)
Publisher: Wiley-Interscience
Sales Rank: 809393
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Book Description

Revised and updated, it reflects the recent developments and changing emphasis in the field of paleoecology. While the basic organization remains the same as the original edition, there are several major changes, including an extensive reorganization and shortening of Chapter 2, focusing now on environmental parameters rather than individual taxonomic groups; greater use of tables with references to pertinent literature; inclusion of a new chapter on taphonomy; elimination of the chapter on skeletons as sedimentary particles; removal of many of the recurring examples from the Neogene of the Kettlemen Hills; and inclusion of new references on all topics. Older references have been kept and will serve to blend the historical and important milestones in the development of paleoecology with the most current research. ... Read more

8. Encyclopedia of Paleontology
list price: $355.00
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Asin: 1884964966
Catlog: Book (2000-01)
Publisher: Fitzroy Dearborn Publishers
Sales Rank: 692005
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Book Description

The Encyclopedia of Paleontology is designed to address the shortage of general reference works on both vertebrate and invertebrate paleontology and to serve the needs of students and lay persons interested in the field. As the encyclopedia aims to provide basic information, the majority of the 350 entries are devoted to explanations of paleontological concepts and techniques, examinations of the evolutionary development of particular organisms and biological features, profiles of major discoveries, and biographies of leading scientists. Each entry includes an essay and a further reading list. An international team of 200 leading experts in the field has prepared the illustrations and the essays, which range from concise descriptions to comprehensive discussions. ... Read more

9. The Evolution and Extinction of the Dinosaurs
by David E. Fastovsky, David B. Weishampel
list price: $120.00
our price: $120.00
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Asin: 0521811724
Catlog: Book (2005-01-31)
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Sales Rank: 1170825
Average Customer Review: 4.14 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Written for non-specialists, this detailed survey of dinosaur origins, diversity, and extinction is designed as a series of successive essays covering important and timely topics in dinosaur paleobiology, such as "warm-bloodedness," birds as living dinosaurs, the new, non-flying feathered dinosaurs, dinosaur functional morphology, and cladistic methods in systematics. Its explicitly phylogenetic approach to the group is that taken by dinosaur specialists. The book is not an edited compilation of the works of many individuals, but a unique, cohesive perspective on Dinosauria. Lavishly illustrated with hundreds of new, specially commissioned illustrations by John Sibbick, world-famous illustrator of dinosaurs, the volume includes multi-page drawings as well as sketches and diagrams.First edition Hb (1996): 0-521-44496-9David E. Fastovsky is Professor of Geosciences at the University of Rhode Island. Fastovsky, the author of numerous scientific publications dealing with Mesozoic vertebrate faunas and their ancient environments, is also scientific co-Editor of Geology. He has undertaken extensive fieldwork studying dinosaurs and their environments in Montana, North Dakota, Arizona, Mexico, and Mongolia.David B. Weishampel is a professor at the Center for Functional Anatomy and Evolution at Johns Hopkins University, School of Medicine. Weishampel is best known for discovering, researching, and naming several rare European dinosaur species. During the 1980s Weishampel gained fame for his work with American paleontologist Jack Horner and later named the famous plant-eating, egg-laying Orodromeus, Horner. Now, a decade after his pioneering studies with Horner, Weishampel is most widely known for his current work on the Romanian dinosaur fauna. He is the author and co-author of many titles, including The Dinosaur Papers, 1676-1906 (Norton, 2003); The Dinosauria, (University of California, 1990); and Dinosaurs of the East Coast, (Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996). ... Read more

Reviews (7)

4-0 out of 5 stars The Evolution and Extinction of the Dinosaurs
The Evolution and Extinction of the Dinosaurs written by David E. Fastovsky and David B. Weishampel is primarily designed as a textbook. Although very readable this text can be used as a resource, the chapters build sequentially reflecting the nature our the science.

The idea within this text is simple: to use dinosaurs as an attractive vehicle to understand aspects of natural history. The dinosaurs are presented here in a phylogenetic context. The prose of phylogenetic systematics, however, can be rather vexing. For this reason, chapters in which the great groups of dinosaurs are discussed individually -in particular, Chapters 6 through 12- are organized in consistant fashion, making it easier for skimming the descriptions and systematic paleontology by going to the "Paleobiology and Paleoecology sections in the above chapters.

This text presents dinosaurs as professionals understand them... the study of dinosaurs has much to do with the history of life and of the earth, with the nature of nature, and with who we are. There are several photographs provided by museums and institutions giving the book greatly needed illustration.

Because dinosaurs have been known since 1818, a good deal is understood; by the same token, a 20-year-old revolution in methods of studying them has only in the last 10 really begun to overturn long-held ideas about them and their 160-million-year history on earth.

This textbook is divided into four parts where each part has subsequent chapters and is very well organized. The parts are:

Part 1: Setting the Stage... here we have five chapters, The introduction; The Mesozoic Era: Back to the Past; Discovering Order in the Natural World; Interrelationships of the Vertebrates; and The Origin of Dinosauria.

Part 2: Ornithischia... here we have five chapters, Stegosauria: Hot Plates; Ankylosauria: Mass and Gas;
Pachycephalosauria: Head-To-Head, with malice aforethought; Ceratopsia: Horns, Frills, and Slice-And-Dice; Ornithopoda: The Tuskers, Antelopes, and the Mightly Ducks of the Mesozoic

Part 3: Saurischia... here we have three chapters, Sauropodomorpha: The Big, The Bizarre, and The Majestic; Theropoda I: Nature Red in Tooth and Claw; and Theropoda II: The Origins of Birds.

Part 4: Endothermy, Environments, and Extinction where there are four chapters, Dinosaur Endothermy: Some Like it Hot; Dinosaurs in Space and Time; Reconstructing Extinctions: The Art of Science; and The Cretaceous-Tertiary Extinction: The Frill is Gone.

There is an extensive glossary, taxonomic index of genera, and subject index helping to reader along and for further information. If you treat this book as a textbook you can use the information found in this book to further your knowledge in the realm of dinosauria.

This is a solid 4 star book filled with information. It may read dryly at times but the information contained within its pages is invaluable.

4-0 out of 5 stars While a Good Book, I Agree It Is Unnecessarily Dry
After reading this book---not for a class---as well as all the reviews below, I also agree with the reviewer from Albuquerque that this text could have been better written. Mr. Brackett, in his criticisms of this reviewer's comments seems to assume much about the reviewer's character and comments based upon the reviewer's status as a student, without really addressing the reviewer's comments. This book DOES err in overly emphasizing the technical at the expense of descriptive or a vivid reconstruction of a natural history of dinosaurs, and cladisitic studies, while necessary and appropriate, do dominate the text. While this is perhaps to be expected, based upon the context, subject and background of the authors, there is little question that a work such as this could offer far more if it were written with a broader emphasis upon a recreation of its subject, while at the same time including the technical data necessary for a full comprehension of the subject. Technical and academic writers often tend to write to their own peer group, without considering or being aware of the extent of their potential audience. Mr Brackett's blithe dismissal of a "student's" criticism of the text based entirely upon his or her status as a student reflects at best an attitude more exclusionary than inclusive, and does not meaningfully respond to the student's criticisms of this text. While this book remains the benchmark of texts upon the subject, there is little question that it could be written with greater verve and expression of the interest that the subject should inherently generate. After all, an introductory text should reach out to stimulate interest in its subject to a wide audience, and the study of dinosaurs certainly possesses no dearth of potential interest. I feel that this can be accomplished with the commensurate amount of technical detail without becoming the artifact of Pop culture Mr. Brackett seems so afraid of.

5-0 out of 5 stars Best Book Out There About Dinosaurs For Educated Dino-Fans
I cannot say enough good things about this text! It covers the bulk of the dinosaur research up to the time that writing of the book ended and does so in a fairly unjudgmental fashion. It makes a point to show the multiple views of the arguments found within its covers. The authors' writing is also in a style that encourages the reader to continue reading, and is quite lively in places which gives new "spring" to the reader's "steps" as they journey through.

This book starts by introducing the reader to fossils and their collecting. It then sets the stage of "when" the book is speaking of so as to aid the reader's understanding of the subject. In setting this "when" the book discusses subjects like plate tectonics, stratigraphy and climatology. It then explains about how paleontology classifies creatures and a bit about organic evolution. After this the book talks of the relationships between the various animals out in the world which have backbones, collectively called vertebrates. This is the first four chapters and 94 pages setting the stage for the reader. Some may describe this as "boring" but it is necessary for a greater understanding of the dinosaur section of the text. In chapter five we are introduced to the origin of dinosaurs both as animals in the Mesozoic Time and in modern science in the 19th Century. This ends Part I of the text.

Parts II & III, 8 chapters and 216 pages, are where all the dinosaur lovers want to be - the parts that actually discuss the various types of dinosaurs. Part II talks of Ornithischia or "bird-hipped" dinosaurs while Part III is about Saurischia or "lizard-hipped" dinosaurs. What is absolutely inspired is the structure of each of the dinosaur chapters. Each chapter starts speaking of the history of the discoveries of that type of dinosaur's fossils. It then defines that general type of dinosaur and proceeds with talking about the diversity of that type and its evolutionary path. After that the book takes the reader into the Paleobiology and Paleoecology on that dinosaur type - the FUN STUFF! Why is it the FUN STUFF? Because most of these sections of each of these chapters is educated dreaming or speculation. The authors speak on a variety of matters such as the feeding, reproductive and social habits of these animals and they do so credibly without resorting to uncontrolled flights of fancy.

Part IV carries the learning experience on through some final serious issues concerning dinosaurs. Were they endothermic or "warm-blooded"? How were they distributed through the Mesozoic Era? What is an extinction? Lastly, what is and caused the Cretaceous-Tertiary Extinction where dinosaurs disappeared? What is commendable is that the authors describe all of the possible theories for the dinosaurs' extinction.

Some prior reviewers have made disparaging comments on the illustrations and diagrams found herein. I, too, wish there were more illustrations and diagrams, especially artwork and illustrations from some of the leading artisans in the PaleoArt field. BUT I have purchased enough textbooks in my college career to realize that the authors have made some financial considerations for those who would be buying this book. If they had acquired what could be considered a dreamy-level of quality illustrations for this book, my experience dictates that this volume would have been as much as 75% more expensive, thereby being almost useless to its main target audience, "Intro to Paleo" students. Why? Because no college faculty member would expect ones students to spend such an outrageous amount on an intro text. Simply, lots of high quality art is nice, but is extremely expensive because the artists and their work are worth a goodly sum.

In closing, I must comment on a prior reviewer's review. The reviewer had several complaints. Too much cladistics, too many chronologies, too much on evolutionary relationships, laughable illustrations and poor writing to only name a few of them. I feel that the reviewer should not have reviewed this book. Why? Because all the reviewer is doing is whining about how this book (and most likely the reviewer's Intro-to-Paleo professor) did not spoon-feed the reviewer enough. The reviewer wanted an introductory hard science class to be of the hand-feeding sort that a documentary for general-public consumption can be, and that expectation is unreasonable, but unfortunately typical in this day and age. I am not saying that "Walking With Dinosaurs" was a documentary series with poor science in it. I am saying that anyone who has the expectation that a hard science book and class, even an introductory one, is going to be written like "pop" TV needs to have another look at reality. If someone wants a dinosaur book of the entertainment-only variety, I would direct them to any of the quality children's-level volumes from DK publishing. If those are still not entertaining enough, then the only stop left of any quality would be The Magic Schoolbus series for elementary/primary school children. Otherwise, if you, the reader, can handle some science and like dinosaurs, this book by Fastovsky and Weishampel is the book to springboard you into the exciting and challenging area called Dinosaur Vertebrate Paleontology!

2-0 out of 5 stars Dry and Overly Devoted to Cladistic Studies
This was the required text for a class I recently attended. Despite earlier reviewers' accolades, I found this work exceedingly dry, with pages upon pages devoted to morphology, philogeny and cladograms, in some cases the bulk of individual chapters. While all of this is obviously important, little is present descriptively in terms of what individual species may have looked like, beyond their bone structure, the environments they inhabited, or the natural history of their lives. Instead, pages upon pages are devoted to chronologies of when individual species were first discovered and where, as well as cladograms diagramming where evolutionarily each species and family exists. The former, when occupying much of the book, is tiresome, and the latter, while helpful, without further descriptive and narrative substance exists only as a sterile evolutionary chronology. And, I agree, the illustrations are rather laughable in terms of skill of rendering.

If this is the best that is available, as some reviewers have asserted, then the state of paleontological writing is very poor indeed. Someone who can actually write, beyond the technical, needs desperately to be found who can infuse some descriptive life into these reading. While the actual subjects may long be dead, there is no reason for the readings to be, as is evidenced in the recent and largely excellent, if at times speculative, Discovery series "Walking with Dinosaurs." And teachers need to be aware that while they may salivate over the technical details of their particular subject or area of interest, the average student will hardly find such dry detail by itself particularly captivating.

5-0 out of 5 stars outstanding
As an avid dinosaur buff, this undergraduate level textbook is a mandatory part of one's collection. The text is very readable yet complete, filling a void between child-oriented dinosaur books and books written for professional paleontologists. I must confess I could not put the book down. Although it is several hundred pages in length, I read the book in less than a week. Topics range from basic dinosaur paleontology to special subjects such as the evolutionary relationship between dinosaurs and birds. If you are a dino-phile, this textbook is a must-read.

Brett J. Guinn, MD ... Read more

10. Fossil Shark Teeth of the World
by Joe Cocke
list price: $19.95
our price: $16.96
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0971538131
Catlog: Book (2002-02-06)
Publisher: Lamna Books
Sales Rank: 31310
Average Customer Review: 4.71 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

An easy to understand book on fossil shark tooth identification. Clear photos and simple terminology. This book is a must for any fossil collector. ... Read more

Reviews (7)

5-0 out of 5 stars Fossil Shark Teeth of the World
This book has many things going for it: the design, the amazing amount of reference photos, the portable size and it's beauty, all delivered in an easy readable and understandable format. I gave many copies to my nieces & nephews living in Virginia where there are a lot of fossils to be found.

5-0 out of 5 stars Jaws uncovered
Being an amateur fossil collector I grabbed Joe Cocke's book to learn more about fossil shark teeth. I found the guide well organized and easy to use. You'll find pictures, the different accepted names used (scientific and common), a detailed description along with references to similar teeth and of course the age. Discovering what kind of tooth you actually found is a lot of fun. This is definitively a great guide.

5-0 out of 5 stars A must for any fossil collector
The book "Fossil Shark Teeth of the World" by Joe Cocke is a very concise and well organized guide. The photos are clear and the descriptions of the teeth will help anyone identify their find.

3-0 out of 5 stars One of the Better Guides, but not Comprehensive Enough
In this short booklet on fossil shark teeth of the world, author Joe Cocke has compiled a fairly detailed and descriptive guide for identifying shark's teeth. Well illustrated, this book a great beginner's guide for anyone interested in trying their hand at identifying those teeth they keep finding on the beach. Unfortunately for the professional, this guide just isn't quite comprehensive enough in that it does not provide a good set of photographs showing the range of variation in the teeth from each species, nor does it compare and contrast similar looking teeth from different species so that the layman can be sure to get them right. In all, however, this booklet is a wonderful guide worthy of study by both kids and adults

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent Guide to Fossil Shark Teeth
Finally a very comprehensive shark tooth identification book that covers over 85 species and covers them correctly. I found very few mistakes of any kind in this book when it comes to ID, nicknames, ages, localities, etc. which is almost never done! Each identified species shows accompanying photos (several of each species showing different positions usually) and is written in plain English so it can be easily understood by amateurs. Plus it's small size will enable it to be well-utilized in the field unlike most ID books. ... Read more

11. The Dinosauria
by David B. Weishampel, Peter Dodson, Halszka Osmlska
list price: $95.00
our price: $64.60
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0520242092
Catlog: Book (2004-12-01)
Publisher: University of California Press
Sales Rank: 22549
Average Customer Review: 4.67 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

When the The Dinosauria was first published more than a decade ago, it was hailed as "the best scholarly reference work available on dinosaurs" and "an historically unparalleled compendium of information." This second, fully revised edition continues in the same vein as the first but encompasses the recent spectacular discoveries that have continued to revolutionize the field. A state-of-the-science view of current world research, the volume includes comprehensive coverage of dinosaur systematics, reproduction, and life history strategies, biogeography, taphonomy, paleoecology, thermoregulation, and extinction. Its internationally renowned authors-forty-four specialists on the various members of the Dinosauria-contribute definitive descriptions and illustrations of these magnificent Mesozoic beasts.The first section of The Dinosauria begins with the origin of the great clade of these fascinating reptiles, followed by separate coverage of each major dinosaur taxon, including the Mesozoic radiation of birds. The second part of the volume navigates through broad areas of interest. Here we find comprehensive documentation of dinosaur distribution through time and space, discussion of the interface between geology and biology, and the paleoecological inferences that can be made through this link.Illustrations: 330 line illustrations, 28 tables ... Read more

Reviews (3)

5-0 out of 5 stars All It Is Cracked Up To Be And More!
What more can I say for this book than has already been said? The first book of it's kind (that I know of), The Dinosauria is the perfect introduction into SERIOUS paleontology. If you want to know more about dinosaurs than you learn from Jurassic Park, this is the place to start. Be warned though, a basic knowledge of the science of paleontology is needed as the book does go deeper into the realm of true science than in other popular books. The Dinosauria layed the foundation for works that would follow, and again this is the perfect introduction for someone who wants to get more serious about the real science of the Dinosauria.

4-0 out of 5 stars A professional reference book
This work was a bit tedious, as any book of this magnitude can be, especially to someone without a PHD, like me. If, however you are aspiring for that PHD, or are a very serious amateur paleontologist, this book is great. It is the most in-depth book I have ever found on the subject. Most books are significantly watered down, as their intended audience is often teenage or younger. This book supplies enormous quantities of information in a fairly usable format. I just wished that there had been more illustrations, perhaps some pictures of different excavation sites and more actual fossil examples, instead of mere drawings. Perhaps this was done for cost effectiveness, as this book is very expensive for someone on a budget. The bone anatomy is very well shown though, and can be studied with the help of this book. I would recommend it for anyone who is serious about paleontology, but please, if you are not, check out another book, as this one may be a dissapointment with a! big price tag.

5-0 out of 5 stars An outstanding reference book on dinosaurs.
Since this book represents a first synthesis ever of dinosaur biology and evolution, it is inveluable reference source for any professional vertebrate paleontologist, geologist, student and interested amateur.
The recent explosion of knowledge based on the more and more spectacular finds of dinosaurs throughout the world has been channelled into this book and revized in full scale. Dinosaur taxonomy has been trimmed by elimination of more than 250 genera and almost 500 species making the data usable for further research purposes.
Each of the world's experts on dinosaurs, write on its on speciality and a group of dinosaurs.
The book is very detailed, comprehensive, with a lot of illustrations (there might have been more) and a massive bibliography containing more than 2,500 entries.
This book is a "must" for every expert and dinophile as well ... Read more

12. Bones of Contention: A Creationist Assessment of the Human Fossils
by Marvin L. Lubenow
list price: $18.99
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0801056772
Catlog: Book (1992-12-01)
Publisher: Baker Books
Sales Rank: 218045
Average Customer Review: 3.93 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (42)

5-0 out of 5 stars The best scientific study of human origins
The book presents a refreshing and honest approach to human origins. For a change it is nice to be able to read all the evidence without having information censored out because it does not agree with evolution. It by far is the most indepth book on the human fossil evidence and cleary and scientifically demonstrates the shabby work done to promote evolution.

5-0 out of 5 stars Blessed by God, hated by God's enemies
While some religious evolutionist extremist scoffers have said such things:

"I wish I could give this less than one star This book is horrifying. I am continually amazed at the misinformation so many insist upon spreading about science, especially evolutionary biology. It horrifies me that a book like this can be published and treated as if it has any scientific validity whatsoever. "Scientific" creationsim is not science, it is merely thinly veiled religious dogma. This book distorts the writings of real scientists to support its beliefs and ignores scientific evidence when it does not suit the author's purpose. This book is fundamentalist Christianity disguised in scientific clothing for ulterior religious motives. As a Christian, and a scientist, I hope that everyone who reads this book will read it with St. Thomas Aquinas' words in mind, "The truth of our faith becomes a matter of ridicule among the infidels if any Christian, not gifted with the necessary scientific learning, presents as dogma what scientific scrutiny shows to be false.",

I, a former hardcore atheist/evolutionist, found the book to be extremely honest, excellent in its scholarship, extremely well documented with references from original sources and with enough documentation for anyone who is really and truly scientifically objective to actually research it and see if it is true or not, which indicates that the author is not interested in his own opinion, but rather the facts of science as they are laid out on the table for all who are interested to see, without interpretation.

Which is why evolutionists hate it. Exposition and education are not exactly what evolutionists like.

5-0 out of 5 stars In summary, human evolution never occurred.
Lubenow is obviously a true scientist, he has really researched his topic adamently, and the deception involved in anthropology becomes brilliantly clear. He uses composite charts to show that all the so called human ancestors were contemporaneous with each other as well as modern homo sapiens. He also shows the morphological interpretations made and how anthropologists use thier magic wands to switch taxons when the dates don't fit, or the dates when the taxons dont fit correctly whith thier preconcieved theory, and also uses only respectable anthropologist and evolutionist quotes to support his interpretations of the taxon's being well within the morphological spectra of modern humans. This is all done on the evolutionist's own time scale, so if you are an old earth creationist it wil still be of use to you, although you may reconsider your position in light of his appendix on the "Dating Game" in reference to skull 1470 revealing the true adherance radioisotope dating has to its master, evolution. It is truly amazing the great lengths men have gone to in order to decieve the public about origins. When an anthropologist makes claims about the extreme rarity of human ancestral fossils or fossil hominids, as Lubenow shows, they simply mean the ones that will fit the theory of human evolution are extremely rare, or non existant! I am grateful for honest intellectuals like Lubenow. Not only does he show that the fossil record is in complete compliance with the idea that humans were created but he shows how the current fossils effectively falsify the theory of human evolution. This is a great book for anyone taking anthropology, or desiring clear intellegent interpretations of data that completely falsify the theory of human evolution.

5-0 out of 5 stars evolution turned on evolutionists
If highschool general science class left alot of questions for you, this book will answer many of them. Excellent account of human fossil history, written for a layman like me. Plenty of definitions when reqired. Instead of just producing his own theories on the subject matter, he very effectively uses evolutionists' own arguements, findings, and quotes against them. For example: rather than argue over young earth creation vs billions of years in evolution, he accepts their dates to base effective arguements from.
In depth discussions in every chapter on all of our favorite science text book characters (Java man, Lucy, Nearderthal, etc). Lubenow provides quite a bit of information on a wide variety of topics in under 300 pgs. He also exposes evolutionists' dangerous circular reasoning of letting bones prove theory while using theory to fit bones.
This book aswered alot of my questions regarding human fossils and left me with this overall thought. Maybe we should let the fossil record speak for itself, istead of trying to make the bones fit a preexisting theory. Every highschool student should read this book as a prerequiset to science class.

3-0 out of 5 stars Informative book
(I am from Iceland, so if there are some spelling errors it is because english is not my native language, and I am to lazy to search in a dictionnary.)

I read this book about 5-years ago for the first time, and I have read it all in all about three times.

I have not read any other creationist book with as much information about the humans now extinct like cro-magnon and neardelthal etc. It explains that creatures like "Lucy" and others are simply apes.

It is interesting to read about how a fossil can change from one kind of hominid to antoher in the mind of the paleoanthroplogist, just to fit what is currently believed in his field, and than change again when the doctrine changes. The fossil can become old, young again, and then old again even though no new information have been atained about him and he has been dated by the carbon II method only once etc.

What I dislike: 1. Lubenow believes in a young earth, I don't.
2. Sometimes the text in the book is not written very well, and is a bit boring.

One negative reviewer said this:
The stratigraphic "evidence" is selectively presented in a distortive, inaccurate fashion, so as to suit conclusions previously reached.

I ask: if you have read the book, why do you not even try to refute any of it's arguments?? ... Read more

13. Future Evolution
by Peter Ward
list price: $35.00
our price: $23.10
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0716734966
Catlog: Book (2001-11)
Publisher: W.H. Freeman & Company
Sales Rank: 55191
Average Customer Review: 3.67 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Everyone wonders what tomorrow holds, but what will the real future look like? Not decades or even hundreds of years from now, but thousands or millions of years into the future.Will our species change radically?Or will we become builders of the next dominant intelligence on Earth- the machine?

These and other seemingly fantastic scenarios are the very possible realities explored in Peter Ward's Future Evolution, a penetrating look at what might come next in the history of the planet.Looking to the past forclues about the future, Ward describes how the main catalyst for evolutionary change has historically been mass extinction.While many scientist direly predict that humanity will eventually create such a situation, Ward argues that one is already well underway--the extinction of large mammals--and that a new Age of Humanity is coming that will radically revise the diversity of life on Earth.Finally, Ward examines the question of human extinction and reaches the startling conclusion that the likeliest scenario is not our imminent demise but long term survival--perhaps reaching as far as the death of the Sun!

Full of Alexis Rockman's breathtaking color images of what animals, plants and other organisms might look like thousands and millions of years from now, Future Evolution takes readers on an incredible journey through time from the deep past into the far future.
... Read more

Reviews (12)

5-0 out of 5 stars Put Away Your Shades, The Future May Not Be That Bright
Danger awaits those who declare the existence of patterns based on paltry data, but I feel like living dangerously. I think I have discovered a relationship between the study of mollusks and the writing of great nonfiction on evolution. Exhibit A: Stephen J. Gould studies gastropods [snails for the layperson, or, as we called them in college, ghastly-pods] and writes books on evolution from the highest peak of the adaptive landscape of evolution writers. Exhibit B: Peter Ward studies living and fossil shelled cephalopods [relatives of squids and octopi] and writes books on evolution that have a mother-of-pearl beauty and a filling of tasty meat. Future Evolution is not the book that I'd recommend to first time Ward readers; in my opinion, first timers should start with Time Machines [1998] or Rivers in Time [2000, an updated version of The End Of Evolution (1994)]. But readers of books on evolution should make it a point to put Future Evolution [and Rare Earth (2000, co-written with D. Brownlee)] on their reading list.

Future Evolution is a beautiful book visually, making the hardback a must and worth the price. Paintings by Alexis Rockman compliment and illuminate the text by Ward. Future Evolution is a thought provoking book. Even though the book is grounded in our extensive knowledge of evolution and mass extinctions, any book about the future must extrapolate from the data of the past and this is dangerous in the historical sciences. Future Evolution is not a cheery book. Folks who want to hear that humans will save the Earth from themselves [or that humans will go extinct and leave the Earth to continue happily without us] wiil probably not be supportive of many of Ward's conclusions. For readers who want to THINK about evolution, Future Evolution is a must.

I highly recommend Future Evolution to any reader of good books on science and especially to people interested in evolution, mass extinctions, conservation, and the future of life on the Earth.

5-0 out of 5 stars The best book of its kind
In this very readable and very enlightening book, paleontologist Peter Ward explores the possibilities of evolution in the near and far future. At the start, Ward first takes us into the past to see how mass extinctions have affected species diversity and the processes of evolution. He then brings us into the present and argues that the human-caused mass extinction may now be in its final phases, rather than just beginning.

Taking a cue from H.G. Wells's _The Time Machine_, the best parts of this book concern the future. Will there evolve a new species diversity with more big mammals, for example? Highly unlikely, says Dr. Ward, because there will simply not be the room for them to develop. More likely, the "pests" and "weeds" of our modern world--rodents, dandelions, cockroaches, crows, etc.--will form the leading front in the next wave of evolution.

And what of humanity? Will we stay as we are, or will we develop into new species as a result of genetic engineering or space colonization? Or will we merge with (or be replaced by) intelligent machines? Or might we simply just go extinct ourselves? Dr. Ward provides an excellent examination of these questions, and comes to some rather surprising conclusions.

I was expecting a good book, because I thoroughly enjoyed _Rare Earth: Why Complex Life is Uncommon in the Universe_, co-authored by Dr. Ward (along with Dr. Donald Brownlee). I am pleased to report that my expectations were surpassed. If you want to read one outstanding book on where we may be going as a species and as a major force in the biosphere, you can do no better than taking in _Future Evolution_.

3-0 out of 5 stars Interesting, but Incomplete
Who has not wondered what the world will be like in the far future? Will humans
evolve into something new? Will rabbits evolve into giant herborives to fill the niche
left behind by the bison and elephants? Will the oceans of the future have new monsters that put the giant squid and blue whale to shame? In Future Evolutuin Peter Ward makes a series of educated guesses at what the future holds in store for life on Earth. One may agree or disagree with his conclusions, but he raised several points that can not be easily dismissed.

Ward's starts by describing the mass extinctions that ended the Permian and
Cretaceous periods and then discusses the evidence that we are currently in the middle of a mass extinction of our own devising. He points out similarities and
differences between the past and present mass extinctions and comes to the conclusion that there will be no new blooming of the tree of life in the future, as
there was after the the Permian and Cretaceous mass extinctions. He argues that
humans have fundementally altered the channels that are available to evolution
and that humans will dominate the Earth's ecology until we go extinct. This is a reasonable assumption. After all, it is very unlikely that we will ever allow a species
to evolve that represents a thread to us, such as a large predator.

Peter Ward's more contraversial assumption is that humans are immune to extinction. He argues that we have enough control over our environment that
only a planet-wide disaster such as a large asteroid impact, or wide-spread trap
vulcanism can pose a serious threat to our survival. This assumption that humans
will be around for as long as there in as Earth is the bedrock that the rest of his
predictions for the future of evolution are based upon.

Future Evolution is an interesting and thought provoking book, even if you
disagree with some of the assumptions that the authorr makes. My main reason
for only giving it a medium rating is that the book was choppy and parts of it
felt rushed. For example, I would have preferred to have been given more detail on the similarities and differences between the present and past mass extinctions.
I would also have liked to see Mr Ward explore more scenarios for the future.
All in all I recommend this book, not as a description of what the future will be
like, but as a starting point for pondering what the future may hold for the Earth
and its ecosystem.

4-0 out of 5 stars Imaginative.
There seems to be four main topics on which professional scientists write for the general reading public: the origin of the universe category, the origin of life category, the origin of consciousness category, and the future of the planet category. Peter Ward's book Future of Evolution falls into the latter. While his book Rare Earth is much more specific and thorough with respect to origins and fates, this book is probably a little more approachable for the reader who has yet to delve into the subject. Like others of its kind, it is a cautionary tale.

The author is a colorful writer who is able to capture the concepts of scientific data in brilliant word-pictures for the non-scientist. He also brings his work and that of others into focus by reflecting on his own experiences in the field, which for those who enjoy adventure stories might well capture the imagination. One of the most poignant stories is that of the death of a close friend during a diving accident (p. 171).

Like many in the scientific community Ward is inclined to see the impacts of human activity on the planet as posing a major and irreversible threat to the continued existence of much of the biota with which we share the planet. Unlike others, however, he believes that much of the worst damage has already been done, namely the demise of the mega fauna of the glacial and post-glacial world and the introduction of domestic cultivars into the floral domain. As a paleontologist he is aware that after each major extinction event in the past, whether a broad spectrum or a narrower one, it takes almost 10 million years for the world's living community to recover. Even if our species lives the usual two million years, it will not live to see that recovery, which is a sobering fact.

While he, like one of my former professors, believes that the human species is almost extinction resistant--barring another asteroid impact like that which put "paid" to the dinosaur--he does believe that the world that our descendants inherit will be vastly different from the one bequeathed to us by our ancestors. He would look to the "weeds" of the living world for the future radiation into vacated niches, animals like rats, insects, and snakes, and plants like the dandelion. He also believes that domesticated animals may give rise to new species.

In the last chapters Ward also gives some thought to the fate of our own species, examining what he calls "unnatural selection." He discusses the apparent increase in behavior disorders in modern society, the possibility of artificial genetic modification of the species, the possibility of merging with machines, the possibility that machines will actually be our only "descendants," the possibility that we will be reduced by an asteroid impact, by nuclear war, or by catastrophic climate change.

A very imaginative book.

2-0 out of 5 stars Blah....
I give this book two stars, because the premiss is interesting. Unfortuantly, I did not feel that this was a good book. It gave me the same feeling that Carl Sagan's books did of a man with a certain nihilistic view of life. He seems utterly convinced that humanity is going to wander down the path of what basically amounts to biological damnation. He does not take into acount that there are people all over tbe world that are struggling to save the natural world, though they are sometimes few in number. I was throughly disapointed by this book. I am a realist at the core of my being, but this book seems to have a rather cynical bent to it, though I agree with the author that we as a species will most likely not go the way of the do do and the passanger pigieon. Anyway, there are my two cents. ... Read more

14. The Crucible of Creation: The Burgess Shale and the Rise of Animals
by Simon Conway Morris
list price: $16.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0192862022
Catlog: Book (1999-12-01)
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Sales Rank: 320535
Average Customer Review: 4.18 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

In The Crucible of Creation, paleontologist Simon Conway Morris describes the marvelous finds of the Burgess Shale--a fantastically rich deposit of Cambrian fossils discovered in Western Canada.One of the few paleontologists ever to explore the Burgess Shale, he provides a complete overview of this remarkable find, ranging from a fascinating description of the painstaking on-site scientific work to an informative discussion of the origins of life on earth.

At the heart of the book, Conway Morris takes the reader on imaginative trip in a time machine back to the Cambrian seas, bringing the fossilized creatures to life as they existed then. And perhaps most important, he applies the revelations of the Burgess Shale to modern evolutionary thinking. In particular, he lays out a critique of Stephen Jay Gould's ideas, drawing quite different conclusions from Gould on the nature of evolution. This finely illustrated volume takes the reader to the forefront of paleontology as it provides fresh insights into the nature of evolution and of life on earth. ... Read more

Reviews (22)

5-0 out of 5 stars A Fascinating Look at the Burgess Shale Organisms
Having read and loved Professor Gould's book, Wonderful Life, I have always wanted to read and learn more about the Cambrian fauna.This book was just what I was looking for. It provides information about other organisms from other Cambrian fossil localities and ties these into the Burgess Shale story. I appreciate the way Conway-Morris brings the organisms to life in his time-travel scenario. And the photographs of the fossils are beautiful! Obviously a great deal of care went into taking these unretouched photos. His disagreements with Gould are also illuminating and add depth to the book, providing another way of looking at these organisms. Conway-Morris's account of how Wiwaxia and the halkieriids tie together the Annelids, the Mollusca and the Brachiopods is particularly fascinating.

5-0 out of 5 stars Conway Morris (and lots of reviewers of his book). . .
take potshots at Stephen Gould's extended speculation on contingency. This is unfortunate because it is all a waste of words-- "contingency", as used by Gould, cannot be science because it is not possible to devise a test of falsifiability (ref: Karl Popper.) What Gould's book is about is the context of science within its culture--why Walcott made his "big mistake". (If you are possibly wondering if Charles Walcott was some amateur rockhound then disabuse yourself with Ellis Yochelson's recent biography.)

What Simon Conway Morris's book is about is an ecological approach to the Cambrian menagerie.

What *all* the Burgess books are about is a celebration of the most important animals fossils yet discovered. (You get your best look [apart from the museums] with Chip Clark's excellent photographs in Derek Briggs's "Fossils of the Burgess Shale".)

5-0 out of 5 stars Five-eyed arthropods.
A reviewer of this book explains that Opabinia could not possibly be related to the arthropods, because it has five eyes. This most erudite person seems to ignore that many present-day arthropods have, in fact, five eyes. They are called insects! Many insects have two composite eyes and three small simple eyes. Now 2+3=5, so many insects, like the cicada, etc. do have five eyes. Since insects are arthropods, five-eyed arthropods are not unheard of, and are in fact very common.

5-0 out of 5 stars A much better book on the Burgess Shale fossils than Gould's
This is a very good book on the Burgess Shale fossils, written by one of the people who ACTUALLY did the work that Gould uses in his "Wonderful Life". It shows that Gould's interpretation is biased toward his peculiar view of "Evolution without Progress". It also shows that many of Gould's main arguments are based on simple mistakes, like the upside-down Hallucinogenia. While Gould present a fringe view of evolution, Morris presents the standard neo-Darwinian picture.

He shows that most of the Burgess Shale fossils fit in ordinary phyla, after all. Or are clearly related to ancestors of the present phyla. Mysterious animals like the halkieriids are shown to be intermediate between the annelida and the brachiopoda, while wiwaxia is probably a stem lineage annelid. Just as Darwin would have expected! While some details can still be wrong, the overall picture fits well with ordinary ideas of how evolution works.

It is amusing to see a Christian (Morris) defend orthodox neo-Darwinism against a materialist (Gould). In fact, compared to Morris, Gould looks like a creationist! This book is not just better science than Gould's, it is also better philosophy.

The book is much more than a polemic against Gould. It tells a story of hunting fossils from Greenland to China: a most satisfying story to read. Unfortunately, I am sure than far fewer copies of this informative and up-to-date book have been sold than of the misleading "Wonderful Life". What a pity!

5-0 out of 5 stars Superb study on the Burgess Shale
Morris, one of two contemporary specialists on the Burgess Shale, has produced an exceedingly well-written survey of the Burgess shale fauna and their meaning for evolutionary biology. The book is loaded with scores of B/W photos, 4 color drawings, a 13-page glossary of terms for the uninitiated, an imaginative underwater excursis with time-travelling paleontologists to the middle Cambrian, and a chapter on developmental evolutionary genetics (wherein he argues that many Burgess forms *are* related to contemporary forms). Stephen Jay Gould's view of the significance of the Burgess Shale is that the bizarre life-forms seen then demonstrate the historical contingency of evolution--rewind the tape and let it play out again, and things would turn out differently (a la Jimmy Stewart's "Wonderful Life"). Morris's thesis is that Gould's tape-player metaphor is misleading, overemphasizing contingency at the cost of ignoring the powerful role played by ecology . One need only consider the evolution of convergent traits in insular life-forms (e.g., Australian marsupial cat-like predators) to get the point. (I should point out that I am suspicious of monolithic theories from either pole of the necessity-chance spectrum.) I find it unfortunate that Gould never discussed Bradley Efron's Bootstrap, a technique used widely in evolutionary and population genetics, or cellular automata, a la Stuart Kauffman, which give rise to the same recurrent patterns with astonishing regularity.) Morris is an adaptationist senstive to the power of ecology to shape evolution, who sees Burgess forms not as deviant freaks that accidentally went extinct but as ancestral to contemporary animals. As usual, there is likely to be truth to both positions; indeed, in some ways, their different views turn on different understandings of probability. For anyone with more than a passing interest in evolutionary biology and paleontology, who finds Gould's incessant digressions distracting, or wonders about the hypertrophy of contingency, this book should not be missed. ... Read more

15. When Life Nearly Died: The Greatest Mass Extinction of All Time
by M. J. Benton, Michael J. Benton, Michael Benton
list price: $29.95
our price: $19.77
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 050005116X
Catlog: Book (2003-05)
Publisher: Thames & Hudson
Sales Rank: 44840
Average Customer Review: 4.11 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Today it is common knowledge that the dinosaurs were wiped out by a meteorite impact 65 million years ago that killed half of all species then living. Far less well-known is a much greater catastrophe that took place at the end of the Permian period 251 million years ago: 90 percent of life was destroyed, including saber-toothed reptiles and their rhinoceros-sized prey on land, as well as vast numbers of fish and other species in the sea.

This book documents not only what happened during this gigantic mass extinction but also the recent rekindling of the idea of catastrophism. Was the end-Permian event caused by the impact of a huge meteorite or comet, or by prolonged volcanic eruption in Siberia? The evidence has been accumulating through the 1990s and into the new millennium, and Michael Benton gives his verdict at the very end.

From field camps in Greenland and Russia to the laboratory bench, When Life Nearly Died involves geologists, paleontologists, environmental modelers, geochemists, astronomers, and experts on biodiversity and conservation. Their working methods are vividly described and explained, and the current disputes are revealed. The implications of our understanding of crises in the past for the current biodiversity crisis are also presented in detail. 46 b/w illustrations. ... Read more

Reviews (9)

5-0 out of 5 stars A fabulous flatulence!
The public is being subjected to a litany of accounts of how life can, and has been, eliminated en masse. After learning ice ages may have swept away numerous creatures, we discovered dinosaurs may have been wiped out by the Big Rock. While trying to comprehend the amount of life an asteroid can dispose of, Michael Benton demonstrates the numbers pale in comparison to what a Big Burp can achieve. Combining his own field work with the research from numerous others, Benton skilfully builds a scenario of real mass destruction. His fine prose style keeps this book a compelling read throughout.

Sharply criticising Darwin's contemporaries and successors for clinging too resolutely to the notion that Nature's forces merely creep along, Benton notes the persistence of one theme. The "uniformitarians", he says, blinded scholars to the evidence - evidence that suggested life could end suddenly. Charles Lyell, one of Charles Darwin's inspirations, argued that what is seen today typifies the entire, and lengthy, history of our world. Slow, gradual change on today's surface is but the most recent example of the panorama of millions of years. Sudden change, "catastrophism", promoted by Baron Cuvier in France, was false. In life, Darwin's evolution by natural selection reflected the gradualist theme.

Benton dismisses Lyell and his adherents as overcommitted to gradualism. He contends they shut their eyes to contrary evidence. He admits the data was less than readily apparent, but argues some questions should have been raised long before now. New research, sometimes in places already once observed, finally brought reassessment. The Ural Mountains in Russia offered the first clues. Roderick Murchison toured there in the 1840s, naming the "Permian System" of rocks. Wars and revolutions interrupted the surveys and geologists and paleontologists peered at new ground. The Great Karoo of South Africa, China and other sites provided new information. A gradually emerging picture revealed a massive die-off 251 million years ago. What had happened?

After a long introduction of chapters recounting the researchers and their findings around the planet, Benton dismisses the notion of a bolide impact. This idea, fostered by the discovery that the Dinosaur Era had likely been concluded by the impact of a 10 kilometre asteroid, wasn't matched by the evidence. While the Permian Extinction may have been accompanied by darkened skies and deluges of rain, the real killer was something else. The dinosaur extinction wasn't typified by massive intrusions of poisonous gases, but the Permian was another matter. Benton surmises that 251 million years ago a series of volcanic fissures spewed immense waves of lava over the land near the North Pole. This area, now known as Siberia, is still covered by the remnants of the outburst. With the lava came noxious gas, mostly carbon dioxide and sulfur dioxide. These "greenhouse" gases warmed the seas, releasing life-killing methane. The catastrophe may have killed off up to 96% of all living things.

This is not simply an arcane analysis of events in the ancient past. It's a book that should gain a wide readership, since the events of all those millions of years ago have implications for today. Benton notes the sediments at the bottom of our seas contain a build-up of methane equalling or exceeding that of the Permian. Today's human-spurred global warming may be leading to the same scenario. Extinction, Benton reminds us, isn't limited to dinosaurs or other ancient life. It is clear that we must learn how these mechanisms work to make rational decisions about our dealings with the biosphere. [stephen a. haines - Ottawa, Canada]

5-0 out of 5 stars A great long overdue book on the Permian mass extinction
Distinguished vertebrate paleontologist Michael J. Benton's latest book, "When Life Nearly Died: The Greatest Mass Extinction Of All Time", is a long overdue popular account of the worst mass extinction in Earth's history, the end Permian extinction of approximately 251 million years ago. Other customers have complained that this book only devotes less than a quarter of its text to the Permian extinction. However, Benton does an elegant job describing the rise of a uniformitarian view of geology in the 19th Century (One major omission is not citing Scottish geologist James Hutton, who can be regarded correctly as Charles Lyell's intellectual precursor with respect to uniformitarianism.) which was eloquent expressed and defended by Charles Lyell in "Principles of Geology", his influential text on geology which helped shaped the careers of other distinguished scientists, most notably Charles Darwin. Next Benton gives a mesmerizing account of the career of Scottish geologist Roderick Murchison, who coined the name Permian for a suite of rocks found in the Ural Mountains of Russia. These lengthy digressions are important - and will become apparent to the astute reader - once Benton describes the Permian mass extinction.

The second third of the book discusses the nature of mass extinctions, describing why paleontologists were inclined originally to think of mass extinctions as the result of apparent bias in sampling of the fossil record, not as real events denoting substantial loss of the Earth's biodiversity. Benton devotes much space to discussing possible scenarios for the end Cretaceous mass extinction, noting that that the asteroid impact theory proposed by Luis Alvarez, his son Walter, and their colleagues at Berkeley is the one accepted now by scientists. And he notes how ecosystems recover following a mass extinction, noting some of the important work done by ecologists and paleontologists in their analyses of recent ecological data as well as the fossil record.

In the final chapters Benton describes what he thinks did happen at the end Permian mass extinction, offering a plausible scenario for this event (However, he dismisses a probable impact scenario which may be more likely in light of current understanding of planetary impacts, most notably the work done by the Alvarez team and others for the terminal Cretaceous impact.). And he gives a thorough overview of man's negative impact on current biodiversity, noting that this could be yet another important extinction in Earth's history. Students of paleontology, historians of science and the general public will find this fine book a splendid overview of mass extinctions, especially the Permian extinction. It is one of the best recent books on the history of geology and paleontology that I have come across lately.

5-0 out of 5 stars Mistitled book.
There was only one chapter donated to this subject, while the rest of the book dealt with the beginnings of paleoentology and the people who were promanent in this science. A lot of history and extraneous geological information. This is a good read and I managed to read the book in one and one half days. I could not put it down. I recommend this book for its history contents alone.

5-0 out of 5 stars A superb review of the science of extinction of species
Dr. Michael Benton, an eminent vertebrate paleontologist, has authored many books on the subject. This is one of his finest.
In this book, Dr. Benton addresses the multiple quandaries underlying mass extinctions, and ever-continuing, sometimes controversial, even acrimonious, effort to solve them. As per his high standards, Dr. Benton's text is highly readable, even though complex problems are being analyzed. He introduces the reader to alien or new concepts capably, and the text forms a seamless web along which any reader having a limited exposure to scientific disciplines may proceed without strenuous effort.

NOTE: Although the book's title appears to indicate a rather exclusive discussion about the largest mass extinction, the Permian-Triassic event, which ended the Paleozoic Era and ushered in the Mesozoic, the actual scope of the book is more broad. This is a pleasant, and very helpful, surprise.

Dr. Benton begins with the discovery of dinosaurs, and the history of the mapping of Europe's stratigraphy, before moving into the area of mass extinctions. Without this preliminary discussion, it would be far more difficult to understand how the concept and science of these events developed. I view this as a positive aspect of the book, since the concept of catastrophic events affecting the course of life's progress was most difficult for pioneers in the field to accept. The text admirably demonstrates that science is, after all, a human endeavor, complete with feuds, rivalries, and disputes. Indeed, much scientific progress has been achieved via disagreements and attempt to disprove the opponent's theories. I recommend this discussion to the students of ANY scientific discipline, not just paleontology.

The book moves to an examination of the five largest mass extinction events, with special emphasis being placed on the Mesozoic-ending extinction of the dinosaurs and the Permian-Triassic event. Smaller events are also addressed, such as the loss of species at the end of the Eocene epoch in our era. Dr.
Benton observes that the very large extinction episode at the end of the Cretaceous Period is almost universally accepted to have been the result of a colossal asteroid collision. He very properly notes that as one moves backward in time, the problem of causation of extictions becomes much more difficult to solve owing to plate movements, erosion and sedimentation, and diminution of appropriate outcrops of rocks.

Addressing the book's titled subject, Dr. Benton reviews the various claims that have been advanced for the cause of this "Mother of Extinctions". These include another huge collision with an extraterrestrial body, great climate change, enormous volcanic eruptions in what is now Siberia, a gigantic release of methyl hydrate gases in the oceans, a large drop in oceanic water levels, the uniting of all land masses into a single continent, the explosion of a nearby supernova, and on and on. Though he is taken to task by some reviewers, Dr. Benton reaches no categorical conclusion as to which of these events, singly or in combintion, offers the best explanation of the wiping out of over 90% of Earth's species of life. His best guess, phrased largely as such, is that the removal of so many lifeforms was a combination of large volcanic eruptions, only one land mass, and the freeing of enormous amount of carbon dioxide into Earth's atmosphere by the breakdown of methane hydrates in the oceans of that time.

NOTE: This writer disagrees, preferring the theory that an enormous impact event in the Falkland Island Basin caused antipodal supervolcnic Siberian lava flows, and that the combination of these two events almost destroyed the Earth's atmosphere, and its life. But am I right, or is the far more qualified Dr. Benton right? Or are we both wrong? The answer awaits further data and analysis of it. And coming full circle, this how the body of scientific knowledge grows.

In closing, this is one of the very best books I have ever read on science and its processes of growth. I recommend this book to one and all, and very, very highly. It is a true feast for the mind.

5-0 out of 5 stars Great story of science, scientists an scientific method
I found the detective story and the scientific method (and biases) it revealed to be engrossing. Apparently there weren't enough fireworks and special effects for the other reviewers, but I found the book hard to put down.

Do yourself a favor and read the book. ... Read more

16. Origin of Land Plants
by Linda E.Graham
list price: $225.00
our price: $225.00
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Asin: 0471615277
Catlog: Book (1993-08-16)
Publisher: Wiley
Sales Rank: 700797
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Book Description

A critical, synthetic and comprehensive account offering discussion of early environments, the history of thought on land plant origins, various approaches used to study early plant evolution and the characteristics of green algae. Includes new ideas regarding evolution, comparative studies of fossil plants and carbon availability. Features abundant illustrations and an extensive bibliography. ... Read more

17. The Ape in the Tree : An Intellectual and Natural History of
by Alan Walker, Pat Shipman
list price: $26.95
our price: $17.79
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Asin: 0674016750
Catlog: Book (2005-04-15)
Publisher: Belknap Press
Sales Rank: 125728
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Book Description

This book offers a unique insider's perspective on the unfolding discovery of a crucial link in our evolution: Proconsul, a fossil ape named whimsically after a performing chimpanzee called Consul.

The Ape in the Tree is written in the voice of Alan Walker, whose involvement with Proconsul began when his graduate supervisor analyzed the tree-climbing adaptations in the arm and hand of this extinct creature. Today, Proconsul is the best-known fossil ape in the world.

The history of ideas is set against the vivid adventures of Walker's fossil-hunting expeditions in remote regions of Africa, where the team met with violent thunderstorms, dangerous wildlife, and people isolated from the Western world. Analysis of the thousands of new Proconsul specimens they recovered provides revealing glimpses of the life of this last common ancestor between apes and humans.

The attributes of Proconsul/ have profound implications for the very definition of humanness. This book speaks not only of an ape in a tree but also of the ape in our tree.

... Read more

18. The Human Fossil Record, Brain Endocasts: The Paleoneurological Evidence, Volume 3
by Ralph L.Holloway, Douglas C.Broadfield, Michael S.Yuan, Jeffrey H.Schwartz, IanTattersall
list price: $195.00
our price: $195.00
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Asin: 0471418234
Catlog: Book (2004-05-14)
Publisher: Wiley-Liss
Sales Rank: 660604
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Book Description

Some of the most important clues indicating human brain evolution come from the cranial cavities of ancient skulls. Endocasts of these crania provide excellent three-dimensional models that yield information regarding the size, surface features, and asymmetry patterns of hominid brains. Looked at as a group, these endocasts provide essential information regarding the human brain’s overall development.

Brain Endocasts, Volume Three of The Human Fossil Record, is the only comprehensive, single-volume work dealing exclusively and uniformly with fossil hominid brain endocasts. Never-before-published photographs come together with easily accessible, coherent descriptions to create a detailed reference on the paleoneurological evidence for human evolution.

Each entry offers essential information related to the location, dating, associations, and morphology of a given endocast. The text also covers the latest methodologies and techniques available for studying endocasts. In addition, a concise summary shows how these fossil records contribute to our understanding of human evolution and behavior.

Written by some of the foremost authorities on the subject, Brain Endocasts is an invaluable resource for advanced students, researchers, and instructors in paleoanthropology, neurology, and evolutionary biology. ... Read more

19. Bones, Stones and Molecules : "Out of Africa" and Human Origins
by David W. Cameron, Colin P. Groves
list price: $34.95
our price: $34.95
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Asin: 0121569330
Catlog: Book (2004-05-20)
Publisher: Academic Press
Sales Rank: 94847
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Book Description

Bones, Stones and Molecules provides some of the best evidence for resolving the debate between the two hypotheses of human origins.The debate between the 'Out of Africa' model and the 'Multiregional' hypothesis is examined through the functional and developmental processes associated with the evolution of the human skull and face and focuses on the significance of the Australian record.The book analyzes important new discoveries that have occurred recently and examines evidence that is not available elsewhere.Cameron and Groves argue that the existing evidence supports a recent origin for modern humans from Africa. They also specifically relate these two theories to interpretations of the origins of the first Australians.The book provides an up-to-date interpretation of the fossil, archaeological and the molecular evidence, specifically as it relates to Asia, and Australia in particular.

* Readily accessible to the layperson and professional
* Provides concise coverage of current scientific evidence
* Presents a robust computer-generated model of human speciation over the last 7 million years
* Well illustrated with figures and photographs of important fossil specimens
* Presents a synthesis of great ape and human evolution
... Read more

20. The Carnivorous Dinosaurs (Life of the Past)
list price: $49.95
our price: $49.95
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Asin: 0253345391
Catlog: Book (2005-07-01)
Publisher: Indiana University Press
Sales Rank: 198924
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Book Description

The meat-eating dinosaurs, or Theropoda, include some of the fiercest predators that ever lived. Some of the group’s members survive to this day—as birds. The theropod/bird connection has been explored in several recent works, but this book presents 17 papers on a variety of other topics. It is organized into three parts. Part I explores morphological details that are important for understanding theropod systematics. Part II focuses on specific regions of theropod anatomy and biomechanics. Part III examines various lines of evidence that reveal something about theropods as living creatures.

The contributors are Ronan Allain, Rinchen Barsbold, Kenneth Carpenter, Karen Cloward, Rodolfo A. Coria, Philip J. Currie, Peter M. Galton, Robert Gay, Donald M. Henderson, Dong Huang, James I. Kirkland, Yoshitsugu Kobayashi, Eva B. Koppelhus, Peter Larson, Junchang Lü, Lorrie A. McWhinney, Clifford Miles, Ralph E. Molnar, N. Murphy, John H. Ostrom, Gregory S. Paul, Licheng Qiu,J. Keith Rigby, Jr., Bruce Rothschild, Christopher B. Ruff, Leonardo Salgado, Frank Sanders, Julia T. Sankey, Judith A. Schiebout, David K. Smith, Barbara R. Standhardt, Kathy Stokosa, Darren H. Tanke, François Therrien, David Trexler, Kelly Wicks, Douglas G. Wolfe, and Lowell Wood. ... Read more

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