Horseshoe Crabs and Velvet Worms

Horseshoe Crabs and Velvet Worms

The Story of the Animals and Plants That Time Has Left Behind

Book - 2012
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Former Natural History Museum (London) paleontologist Fortey gives us the stories of those plants, animals, and other creatures that have survived from Earth's early days--the planet's "true marathon runners."
Publisher: New York : Alfred A. Knopf, 2012
Edition: First American edition
ISBN: 9780307263612
Branch Call Number: 595 FORTE
Characteristics: xv, 332 pages, 24 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations ; 25 cm
Notes: Includes index
"Originally published as Survivors in Great Britain by HarperPress, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, London."


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May 03, 2017

Richard Fortey is a scientist who writes; more to the point, he is a writer who does science. In this entertaining book, he mixed personal anecdotes with paleontology and biology to discuss various “living fossils”, from horseshoe crabs to cyanobacteria, from liverworts to lungfish. He peppers the entire narrative with trivia and dry wit. He occasionally gets some of the science wrong if it’s not actually in his expertise (i.e. he perpetuates the myth that Sanskrit is the mother of the Indo-European languages rather than an elder daughter) but he balances this by presenting the arguments from both sides when there is ambiguity about the biology (i.e. the relation of the ginkgo tree to other extinct and living plants) and lets the reader draw their own conclusions. All in all this is a fascinating book.

Rachelene Oct 27, 2012

A fine book about the history of life and those species that have survived mass extinction events to stay on this world up to the present. Richard Forthey brings us wonderful insights about the origins of life, and why some species make it thru the eons relatively unchanged, and why some (most?) don't.

His writing style can be objectionable to some, but his ability as a vulgarisator in not to be denied. A worthy and enlightening read!


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