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The Story of Life in 25 Fossils: Tales of Intrepid Fossil Hunters and the Wonders of Evolution

The Story of Life in 25 Fossils: Tales of Intrepid Fossil Hunters and the Wonders of Evolution

by Donald R. Prothero

Paperback(Reprint)

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Overview

Every fossil tells a story. Best-selling paleontology author Donald R. Prothero describes twenty-five famous, beautifully preserved fossils in a gripping scientific history of life on Earth. Recounting the adventures behind the discovery of these objects and fully interpreting their significance within the larger fossil record, Prothero creates a riveting history of life on our planet.

The twenty-five fossils portrayed in this book catch animals in their evolutionary splendor as they transition from one kind of organism to another. We witness extinct plants and animals of microscopic and immense size and thrilling diversity. We learn about fantastic land and sea creatures that have no match in nature today. Along the way, we encounter such fascinating fossils as the earliest trilobite, Olenellus; the giant shark Carcharocles; the "fishibian" Tiktaalik; the "Frogamander" and the "Turtle on the Half-Shell"; enormous marine reptiles and the biggest dinosaurs known; the first bird, Archaeopteryx; the walking whale Ambulocetus; the gigantic hornless rhinoceros Paraceratherium, the largest land mammal that ever lived; and the Australopithecus nicknamed "Lucy," the oldest human skeleton. We meet the scientists and adventurers who pioneered paleontology and learn about the larger intellectual and social contexts in which their discoveries were made. Finally, we find out where to see these splendid fossils in the world's great museums.

Ideal for all who love prehistoric landscapes and delight in the history of science, this book makes a treasured addition to any bookshelf, stoking curiosity in the evolution of life on Earth.


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780231171915
Publisher: Columbia University Press
Publication date: 03/20/2018
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 408
Sales rank: 314,831
Product dimensions: 5.60(w) x 8.70(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Donald R. Prothero is a Research Associate in Vertebrate Paleontology at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. He has taught college geology and paleontology for 40 years at institutions such as Columbia University, Vassar College, Knox College, and Pierce College, and currently at Cal Poly Pomona. For 27 years, he was Professor of Geology at Occidental College in Los Angeles and Lecturer in Geobiology at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. He earned his M.A., M.Phil., and Ph.D. degrees in geological sciences from Columbia University. He is the author of over 300 scientific papers published in leading journals and over 30 titles in geology, paleontology and evolutionary biology.

Table of Contents

Preface
Acknowledgments
1. Planet of the Scum: The First Fossils (Cryptozoon)
2. Garden of Ediacara: The First Multicellular Life (Charnia)
3. "Little Shellies": The First Shells (Cloudina)
4. Oh, Give Me a Home, When the Trilobites Roamed: The First Large Shelled Animals (Olenellus)
5. Is It a Worm or an Arthropod? The Origin of Arthropods (Hallucigenia)
6. Is It a Worm or a Mollusc? The Origin of Molluscs (Pilina)
7. Growing from the Sea: The Origin of Land Plants (Cooksonia)
8. A Fishy Tale: The Origin of Vertebrates (Haikouichthys)
9. Mega-Jaws: The Largest Fish (Carcharocles)
10. Fish out of Water: The Origin of Amphibians (Tiktaalik)
11. "Frogamander": The Origin of Frogs (Gerobatrachus)
12. Turtle on the Half-Shell: The Origin of Turtles (Odontochelys)
13. Walking Serpents: The Origin of Snakes (Haasiophis)
14. King of the Fish-Lizards: The Largest Marine Reptile (Shonisaurus)
15. Terror of the Seas: The Largest Sea Monster (Kronosaurus)
16. Monster Flesh-Eater: The Largest Predator (Giganotosaurus)
17. Land of the Giants: The Largest Land Animal (Argentinosaurus)
18. A Feather in Stone: The First Bird (Archaeopteryx)
19. Not Quite a Mammal: The Origin of Mammals (Thrinaxodon)
20. Walking Into the Water: The Origin of Whales (Ambulocetus)
21. Walking Manatees: The Origin of Sirenians (Pezosiren)
22. Dawn Horses: The Origin of Horses (Eohippus)
23. Rhinoceros Giants: The Largest Land Mammal (Paraceratherium)
24. The Ape's Reflection? The Oldest Human Fossil (Sahelanthropus)
25. Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds: The Oldest Human Skeleton (Australopithecus afarensis)
Appendix: The Best Natural History Museums
Index

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